Los Angeles County passes 25,000 COVID-19 deaths as new mask rules aim to slow spread

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County surpassed 25,000 deaths from COVID-19 this week as health officials grow increasingly worried about the upcoming winter.

The county reported 35 additional deaths linked to the coronavirus on Thursday, bringing the total since the start of the pandemic to 25,002 deaths. The county also reported 3,239 new cases. There are 1,790 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, with 23% of them in the ICU.

The state of California has reported nearly 4.1 million cases since the start of the pandemic, with more than 64,000 deaths.

Health officials are hoping new mask mandates for outdoor events, even for those who have been vaccinated, will help slow the case count.

In addition, by Sept. 20 the White House says national distribution of COVID-19 vaccine booster shots will begin.

Right now, the third shot is available only to those who have compromised immune systems.

"The CDC and FDA recommended it on Friday and I went and got my booster on Sunday," said 28-year-old Christine Smith.

With vaccination rates still lower than health officials had hoped for, there is growing concern about a continuing rise in COVID-19 in upcoming months.

"Winter is often associated with increases in viral spread," said county health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. "So yes we're worried about the winter. We'd feel a lot better about the winter if our vaccination numbers go way up."

The county and local cities have increased mask requirements for large gatherings.

Fans at next month's Grand Prix of Long Beach will be wearing masks as they watch the fast cars speed by on downtown streets.

Long Beach's new health order kicked in this week, requiring that everyone regardless of vaccination status wear a face covering while attending large outdoor events with crowds of more than 10,000. That includes the Grand Prix as well as concerts, sporting events and festivals.

Los Angeles County's health department has also passed a similar order.

And with college football season fast approaching, the city of Pasadena is letting everyone know they'll need to mask up at the Rose Bowl.

UCLA's first home game is more than a week away, but the city's mega-event masking rules kick in Friday.

This happens as the first cruise ship in nearly a year and a half gets ready to set sail from the Port of Long Beach.

Carnival's Panorama will depart Saturday on a seven-day Mexican Riviera cruise.
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