The number of deaths from L.A. County coronaviruses over the weekend

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In the past two days, Los Angeles County officials have announced 81 new deaths from coronaviruses, the highest total reported on a weekend in more than a month.Authorities also reported 3,000 new cases on Saturday and Sunday. The highest total deaths recorded over the weekend had already been reported from April 18 to 19, when 105 deaths were reported.

When officials announced that the county would more fully reopen businesses and outdoor sites, such as beaches and parks – even though the number of cases and death rates continued to increase – they reiterated countless repeated messages times in previous weeks: the virus has not changed; the only change was in people’s behavior and commitment to social distancing.

Now, two weeks after Memorial Day weekend, crowds have gathered on the recently reopened beaches and just over a week since restaurants and most businesses received the green light to resume operations, officials have reported that the rate of transmission of the virus appears to have increased, an expected reality as activity increases.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of health services for L.A. County, said Friday that the effective transmission rate is now over 1 and gaining ground.

“Although it is not yet clear how reopening and recovery activities will affect the transmission of COVID-19,” said Ghaly, the transmission rate “now appears to be above 1 and slightly upward.”

Authorities announced on Monday 10 more deaths and 823 new cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections to 64,644 on Monday. Figures are generally lower on Monday due to fewer reports over the weekend.

The increase in the number of cases cannot be immediately linked to the thousands of people who took to the streets last week to protest the death of George Floyd and racial inequality. The incubation period for the virus is around 14 days, so the figures currently reported reflect actions from previous weeks, officials said.

This is not to say that activities at the protests will not affect the number of cases in the coming days.

Officials continued to praise peaceful protesters for exercising their rights to the 1st Amendment, while reminding them to remain cautious.

Director of public health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, compared the risk of exposure during protests to other public places, including shopping malls or restaurants, on Monday. In each case, the contact tracers would not be in contact with people who could have been exposed to the virus in a public space.

“Nobody knows you were there. No one will call you. ”

Ferrer encouraged the protesters on Monday to be proactive and get tested for the virus, while reminding protesters that it could take up to two weeks for the virus to appear in someone’s system.

“A negative test result does not mean that you cannot be infected during the 14-day incubation period. ”

Those who came into contact with someone who was not wearing a face mask or who had a known case of exposure should self-quarantine during the incubation period.

“The risk is still there. Even if it’s not a huge risk, it’s a sufficient risk for everyone to take these universal precautions, “she said.

While most wore face covers during protests, it is almost impossible to maintain a six-foot separation when crowds surround themselves. Various state officials and health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning protesters to get tested because they fear the protests will cause another spike in cases.

“These people who participated in these peaceful demonstrations or who demonstrated, and in particular if they are in metropolitan areas which really did not control the epidemic … we really want these people to strongly consider being assessed and to get tested, “CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a congressional hearing last week.

Citing concerns over the violence that had erupted during early protests, L.A. County officials closed or changed the hours of operation of several test sites last week. The decision concerned experts, because tests and social distancing practices remain the only real weapons against the fight against the virus in the absence of vaccine and medical therapy.

The virus remained on the minds of protesters, who broke through quarantine for months to express their outrage at Floyd’s death last month at the hands of police. In addition to the free food and water that the volunteers distributed during the protests, there was a large amount of hand sanitizer distributed.

A group of about 50 nurses and healthcare workers who fought the coronavirus on the front line at UCLA Ronald Reagan and Santa Monica medical centers, USC Keck medical center, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Kaiser Permanente joined Saturday’s protest outside Los Angeles. Hall with bags full of disinfectant.

“Racism is a public health crisis,” said Delilah Garcia, 24, explaining why she attended the protests despite the risk of COVID-19, which disproportionately affected black communities. ” Enough is enough. “

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