Los Angeles County health officials announced 29 more deaths from COVID-19 and 694 newly confirmed cases Sunday, bringing the county's totals to 1,821 deaths and 37,974 cases.
Ninety-two percent of the people who died had underlying health conditions, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
As of Sunday, 5,816 people -- or 16% of positive cases -- have been hospitalized, officials said. Of the 1,648 people currently hospitalized, 26% are in intensive care and 19% are on ventilators.
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Testing capacity continues to increase in the county, with results available for more than 309,000 individuals and 11% of people testing positive.
"To the many people experiencing the profound sadness of losing someone they love to COVID-19, we are deeply sorry," said Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director. "... More people will be out of their homes now that we are in the early stages of our recovery journey, and this means there will be more chances of coming in contact with asymptomatic people who are infected with COVID-19. If you have an underlying health condition -- like chronic lung disease, asthma, a serious heart condition, HIV, or another condition that affects your immune system -- it is so important that you continue to do your best to stay home as much as possible, avoid close contact with others, and if you begin to feel sick contact your provider immediately.
"It's also a good idea to talk to employers and friends and let them know you are at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19."
Despite the ever-increasing numbers, Ferrer has stressed that the rate of the virus' spread has been slowed by the county's Safer At Home orders mandating face masks, social distancing and asking people to remain home as much as possible.
Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county's health services director, said Thursday that if social distancing and other restrictions had not been imposed, the coronavirus outbreak would be far worse.
"If everyone across Los Angeles County had not honored the Safer At Home health officer order, then we would be in the midst of a public health disaster the likes of which none of us would like to be experiencing, and that would be difficult to imagine," she said.
Recreational facilities in the county such as equestrian centers, tennis and pickleball courts and community gardens were allowed to reopen Friday, with restrictions including face coverings, social distancing and limits on numbers of visitors. The county last week also authorized all retail businesses to reopen for curbside or door-side pickups, with the exception of retailers inside enclosed shopping malls.
Face coverings and social distancing is also required at the retail businesses, with no customers permitted inside stores.
Ferrer on Friday also clarified differing orders imposed by Los Angeles city and the county regarding face coverings. The city of Los Angeles announced an order Wednesday that requires residents to wear face coverings whenever they are outside their homes.
The county order, however, is not as strict, requiring only that residents wear face coverings in proximity to others who are not members of their households. Ferrer also issued a warning to people engaging in rigorous exercise while wearing a mask.
"If you're out in hot weather and you're exerting yourself ... if you are going to be around a lot of other people, you have to take a lot of care because it can be dangerous if you're running hard, for example, if you have that cloth face covering over your mouth and your nose because it does make it more difficult for you to breathe.
"We encourage people who want to do exertion that's going to task their lungs to please do that in a solitary way. Go for a solitary run so that you're not around other people.''