The number of people in Los Angeles County who have died in institutional settings, primarily nursing homes, represent 51% of all deaths in the county, officials said.
Over 800 coronavirus deaths have been reported at more than 270 LA County facilities, including at juvenile and adult detention facilities, data shows. COVID-19 cases have been reported at facilities in nearly 80 different communities across the county.
NBCLA profiled one such facility in Calabasas that has been hit hard. More than 40 cases, including three deaths, have been reported among employees and residents at Silverado Calabasas Memory Care Community.
“All of the residents at Silverado are memory-impaired and not capable of understanding they are at risk” a spokesman for the home said in a statement. “This presents us with unique challenges in caring for residents as we are unable to isolate them in their rooms, which would be considered an illegal restraint.”
At a daily briefing on Thursday, Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health, stressed the lethal nature of the coronavirus, calling it vastly more deadly than the flu.
“Last year, 125 people died from influenza, and the year before, about 300 people died,” Ferrer said. “On average, we lose about 250 lives to influenza every year, and you can understand why the mortality rate of COVID-19 is so worrisome, because it far exceeds what we’re normally used to seeing with a virus or a communicable disease.”
Ferrer also stressed that the coronavirus can be lethal to people of all age groups, particularly those with underlying health conditions. Of the people who have died in the county, 92% had underlying health conditions.
“Fully 40% of the people who have died are in fact 65 years of age or younger, which means that there are a lot of people with underlying health conditions in different age groups who … become seriously ill from COVID-19 and also lose their lives, unfortunately,” she said. “Now that many people will be out of their homes more as we’re on our recovery journey, this means there’s a likelihood more people can become infected, and that means more people can infect other people.
“So if you have a chronic health condition … please take a moment to try to make sure that you will be able to continue to stay at home as much as possible.”