UPDATE: Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris told the Los Angeles Times that the patient who died in Lancaster was a teenage boy who died of septic shock, and the boy’s father is also infected with coronavirus.
UPDATE: The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is casting doubt on the Lancaster teen’s coronavirus diagnosis. In a statement released Tuesday night, the health department said: “The juvenile fatality that the Los Angeles County Department Public Health reported earlier today will require further evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality.”
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LOS ANGELES – The death toll from coronavirus rose to 11 Tuesday in Los Angeles County, while the overall number of cases reached 662.
One of the newly announced deaths involved a person under age 18 from Lancaster, according to Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the county Department of Public Health. She called the case “a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages.”
No other information was immediately released on the other new deaths.
Ferrer also reported 128 new cases in Los Angeles County, raising the overall county total to 662 (excluding Long Beach, which maintains its own public health agency). There were seven confirmed cases in the Antelope Valley as of Monday evening, according to the city of Lancaster website.
Ferrer said that of the coronavirus cases in the county, 42% are in people aged 18-40, while 39% involve people aged 41-65. As of Monday, more than 5,700 people have been tested in the county, with about 10% coming back positive.
Ferrer has repeatedly stressed that the number of cases in the county is likely to continue rising due to the increasing availability of testing. But she said people who are tested should assume they are positive and immediately isolate themselves and notify their close contacts so those people can also go into quarantine.
“Social distancing is one very important tool that we use, but the second tool that we need to ask for your cooperation on is adhering to isolation and quarantine orders,” she said. “Isolation is required by law for anyone positive for COVID-19 or whose clinician has told them they’re likely to be positive.”
She said it can take several days for people to get their test results, and patients should assume they are positive while they’re waiting for those results.
Health officials have insisted since the outbreak began that while older people, those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women can suffer more severe consequences from contracting coronavirus, the threat of being diagnosed with the illness is spread across all age groups. And while younger patients may suffer lesser symptoms, they can still spread the illness to people who may become more severely ill.
County officials addressed the potential mental-health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying resources are available for people feeling overwhelmed.
“Please take care of yourself. You are not alone,” County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said.
The county’s mental health department has a hotline available at 800-854-7771 that offers residents support and information about available resources.
Residents of the county and across the state are under orders to remain at home as much as possible, and engage in social distancing when they’re outside the home.
The restrictions were ramped up over the weekend in response to continued large-scale gatherings of people at beaches — most notably the Venice boardwalk — and on hiking trails.
The previous order prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people, but the revised wording released over the weekend prohibits “all indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings and events.”
People who go out for shopping or essential jobs are required to remain at least six feet away from anyone else. Residents are still free to go outside for walks, hikes or bike rides, but not in large groups.
Saturday’s enhanced order also clarified that golf courses and personal grooming services — including hair and nail salons — are nonessential services and are closed. The order can be found online at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/. It requires “all indoor malls and shopping centers, all swap meets and flea markets, all indoor and outdoor playgrounds and all non-essential businesses to close.”
Businesses considered essential and permitted to remain open include hardware stores, repair shops, media outlets, banks, laundromats, dry-cleaners and pet supply stores.