LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Health officials Monday pleaded with Los Angeles County's elderly population and those with underlying health conditions to stay home as the number of coronavirus cases continued to rise at a startling rate.
L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported 420 new cases and 15 deaths Monday, bringing the countywide total to 6,360 cases and 147 deaths.
Of the 15 who died, 12 were over the age of 65. Seven of those 12 had underlying health conditions.
The other three were between the ages of 41 and 65. Only one of those had underlying conditions.
Ferrer noted that the mortality rate for the disease had grown to a sobering 2.3 percent, up from 1.9 percent last week.
Of the 147 people who have died so far, 83 percent had underlying conditions and 76 percent were over the age of 65.
Twenty six of those who died were residents in skilled nursing or assisted living facilities.
"If you're elderly, or you have an underlying health condition, you stay home, except to go to medical appointments," Ferrer said. "When you're out and about, even for essential services, you're putting yourself at risk for becoming infected with COVID-19 and becoming seriously ill."
Ferrer also asked area stores to provide seniors with free delivery services for groceries and medications.
"We want to encourage grocery stores and pharmacies to offer free delivery services wherever possible to those at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19," she said. "
She requested that Angelenos step up and help their elderly neighbors and friends.
"And if you have a friend, or you are a friend, neighbor or family member of somebody who is elderly, or somebody that has underlying health conditions: please, please, help them get their food, their medications, and the essentials that they need, so they can safely stay home," Ferrer said.
Over the weekend, President Donald Trump cautioned Americans that this could be "the toughest week" of the outbreak so far, with Ferrer confirming that prediction.
"This would be the week to skip shopping all together," she said.
On Friday, Ferrer warned L.A. County could soon see 1,000 new cases per day.
So far, a little over 32,000 coronavirus tests have been administered in L.A. County, with 14 percent coming up positive. However, Ferrer called rate "slightly inflated" because some commercial labs have yet to report their negative results.
Ferrer also acknowledged that some areas of the county are struggling to obtain tests more than others.
"Testing scarcity still exists in some places more than it does in others...As the week goes by you will see increased capacity that reflects that desire to make sure getting tested is not a barrier because of where you live or where you work," she said.
There are now also 12 cases among the county's homeless population.
Ferrer followed up on last week's recommendation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and local officials that everyone wear cloth face coverings when outside their homes.
"We saw a lot of people over this weekend using cloth face coverings while you were out and about," Ferrer said. "And thank you for taking this additional step to slow the spread of COVID-19."
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