More than 60 new coronavirus deaths were reported Friday by Los Angeles County health officials, who also confirmed another 2,651 cases.
The county Department of Public Health announced 69 fatalities, but seven of those deaths were actually reported Thursday by Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own health departments. Long Beach announced one additional death Friday, while Pasadena reported two.
The new deaths increased the countywide death toll since the start of the pandemic to 4,624.
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Long Beach and Pasadena also combined to announced 60 new coronavirus cases Friday. Added to the new cases announced by the county Department of Public Health, the countywide total of cases from throughout the pandemic rose to 188,541.
County health officials noted that daily death figures reported over the past week have been unusually high -- including a one-day record high of 91 fatalities. The average number of daily deaths reported last week was about 38, according to the county.
Health officials have been warning about an anticipated increase in deaths, following a sharp increase in hospitalizations that began in mid-July, roughly two weeks after the Fourth of July weekend that is being blamed for prompting numerous public gatherings despite health restrictions banning them.
Hospital admissions have been leveling off over the past week, but the number of people hospitalized still remains high, with 2,002 confirmed patients as of Friday. That number topped 2,200 for several days earlier this month, the highest level of the pandemic.
"As we are seeing increases these past few days in the numbers of people dying from COVID-19, the reality of the devastation cannot be ignored,'' county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. "Nor can we ignore the reality that there are actions each person can take to prevent these tragic outcomes.
How Coronavirus Has Grown in Each State — in 1 Chart
This chart shows the cumulative number of cases per state by number of days since the 50th case.
Source: The COVID Tracking Project
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC
"Together, we can slow the spread of this deadly virus with simple acts of respect and kindness -- wear a face covering, avoid gathering with people you don't live with, stay home as much as possible and practice hand hygiene,'' she said. "Together, we can heal.''
The county again reminded businesses owners of their responsibility to adhere to public health protocols for operating, including the requirement to report to the county any outbreaks of three or more cases.
The county's health officer, Dr. Muntu Davis, told reporters Thursday that three food-processing plants that were recently shuttered by the county due to large-scale outbreaks failed to report the cases to the county. All of them had at least 40 confirmed cases of the virus, but the county only learned of the outbreaks through an anonymous tipline.
Those outbreaks occurred at Golden State Foods Corp. in Industry, S&S Foods in Azusa and Mission Foods in Commerce. While the companies have reopened, Davis said an investigation is continuing into two deaths of Mission Food employees that may have due to the virus.
Relatives of one of those employees, 67-year-old Jose Roberto Alvarez Mena, have complained that his death could have been prevented, saying employees at Mission Foods were never notified about an outbreak of the illness.
A Mission Foods' executive told the station in a statement that the facility was closed for only one day, during which it worked with county officials to ensure the company was in full compliance with health guidelines.