Los Angeles County reported 816 new cases of COVID-19 and 11 more deaths Sunday, bringing the county's totals to 253,985 cases and 6,208 fatalities.
Officials said the relatively lower case and death counts reflect a reporting lag over the weekend.
The number of people hospitalized in the county due to the virus continues to fall sharply, dropping from 877 Saturday to 793, with 35% of those people in intensive care, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
The daily hospitalization numbers were over 1,000 just a couple weeks ago, and have declined to levels not seen since the early days of the pandemic in April.
"I send my deepest condolences to the families and friends who are grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. "We will get to a place where we are reopening more business sectors and schools, but in order to do so we still need everyone to do their part to minimize spreading COVID-19 to other people. Each of us has an opportunity and responsibility to save lives and to protect our vulnerable residents who are likely to have severe consequences if infected with COVID-19."
Officials noted earlier this weekend that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control advised in a new report that eating and drinking at places that offer on-site dining is one of the riskiest activities for COVID-19 transmission.
"We wish healing and peace to our families and friends who are mourning their loved one lost to COVID-19,'' "We need the help of our younger county residents to slow the spread even more than we are doing now, so that we can move into lower tiers that allow for the reopening of more business sectors and schools," Ferrer said.
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"This is not the time for non-essential activities and social gatherings, but a time for distancing and avoiding close contact with people you don't live with."
Meanwhile, the county announced that some COVID-19 testing centers would be closed through the weekend due to health concerns stemming from unhealthy air quality caused by the Bobcat Fire.
Testing sites at East L.A. College in Monterey Park, the Pomona Fairplex and San Gabriel Valley Airport in El Monte were closed Saturday and Sunday, while the site at College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita will be closed Sunday.
Ferrer held conference calls with local education officials last week, telling them it's unlikely K-12 schools will be authorized to reopen for in-person instruction before November. Schools have been authorized to begin small in-person classes for students with specialized needs or individual learning plans or who are learning to speak English.
Ferrer reiterated that the county would not be offering waivers that were once on the table for individual schools to seek a return to in-person instruction, based on the virus situation in their particular community.
LA County is in the highest tier for danger from the pandemic, which means a general reopening of schools is not currently permitted under state orders.
Long Beach Unified, the county's second-largest school system, told parents Thursday that the district would continue online-only instruction through the winter break to provide instructional stability.