UPDATED, 1:15 PM: Los Angeles County saw 11 more coronavirus deaths in the past 24 hours, more than any other single day during the outbreak. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director. said during her daily update that 65 county residents now have died from the disease.
She added that there were 513 new cases of COVID-19 reported in L.A. County since Tuesday, bringing the total number to 3,618 — including more than 1,000 in the past 24 hours. Ferrer also said 345 coronavirus patients are in hospitals today, with three-quarters of those having no documented underlying health conditions. Of those hospitalized, 20% are in intensive care, including four patients who are younger than 35.
Ferrer also said that more than 21,000 L.A. County residents have been tested for the virus.
She also stressed the need for people to continue to practice social distancing and other CDC-recommended ways to mitigate the disease. “There’s increasing evidence … that there are people who are infected with COVID-19 that don’t have any symptoms,” Ferrer said. “And for some of these people, there’s also evidence they’re able to spread infection. They don’t feel sick, they don’t think they’re sick, they have no signs of symptoms of respiratory illness — when they’re tested, they end up being positive, and it ends up that they’ve also tranmitted, even though they’re asymptomatic, to other people.”
PREVIOUSLY, March 31: Los Angeles County has seen its number of residents testing positive for coronavirus triple in less than a week, local health officials said today. They also reported 10 deaths and 548 new cases in the past 24 hours. That brings the county’s death toll to 54, with 3,011 new cases.
“These aren’t just numbers,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director. “These are real people, and they’re being mourned by their family and friends.”
She noted that one of the people who died since Monday was a health care worker — the first in Los Angeles County to succumb to COVIC-19.
During her daily update that was streamed on Facebook, Ferrer noted that the Centers for Disease Control has released new guidance about coronavirus “close contact.” She said the CDC now says anyone who has tested positive or is presumed positive could have infected others up to 48 hours earlier.
Elsewhere in Los Angeles today, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center said it has joined an international effort to test an experimental drug as a potential COVID-19 treatment. It expects to have its first clinical trial patient by week’s end. Sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of the National Institutes of Health, the trial is for remdesivir, a drug developed by Northern California-based Gilead Sciences.
“We need randomized, controlled studies to verify that remdesivir is both safe and effective,” Dr. Victor Tapson of Cedars-Sinai said. “That is why this clinical trial is so important.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci of the White House Coronavirus Task Force also stressed the trial’s importance. In a release from the National Institutes of Health release today, he said: “We urgently need a safe and effective treatment for COVID-19. Although remdesivir has been administered to some patients with COVID-19, we do not have solid data to indicate it can improve clinical outcomes. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial is the gold standard for determining if an experimental treatment can benefit patients.”
The drug has shown promise in animal testing, officials said.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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