LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County recorded its first confirmed death from coronavirus Wednesday — a woman in her 60s who lives elsewhere but was visiting friends in the area — while the county health director also announced six more confirmed cases of the illness.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the county Department of Public Health, said the woman who died had underlying health conditions and had traveled extensively over the past month, including a “long layover in South Korea.”
No other specifics about the woman were released, including an exact location of the hospital where she died.
Of the six additional confirmed cases, three were “household contacts” of a previously announced patient, one person recently traveled to France and came home ill, one person traveled to a religious conference in another state and one person has no known travel or exposure history — making that patient the county’s second instance of “community transmission” of the illness.
The new cases bring to 24 the number of cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, that have been reported and are being overseen by the county Department of Public Health.
Long Beach, which operates its own health department, announced its fourth case, although the city was still awaiting confirmation of test results from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The patient was described only as a man who traveled “to an international area of community transmission.”
Pasadena, which also has its own health department, announced its first case, described only as a person who had known contact with a coronavirus patient outside Pasadena. City officials said the person has been in quarantine since the exposure occurred, and is “recovering.”
The new cases bring the overall number of cases in the county to 29.
In addition to the new cases announced Wednesday, the other patients reported by the county Department of Public Health are:
— one person who recently returned from a trip to Iran;
— eight people who were in a travel group to northern Italy;
— two contract employees who were conducting coronavirus medical screenings of arriving passengers at Los Angeles International Airport;
— two relatives of a person who lives outside the county and was also confirmed with the virus; and
— a person who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference in Washington, D.C.;
— a person with a known history of travel to Japan;
— a person who contracted the illness from an unknown source, becoming the county’s first case of “community transmission” of the disease; and
— a traveler from the area of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. That person, the county’s first patient, has since recovered.
The other Long Beach cases are two men and one woman. Two of the patients had recently traveled internationally to an area of “community transmission,” while the other traveled domestically to such an area.
Two of the Long Beach patients are isolated at home, while the third is hospitalized at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, city officials said Monday.
Los Angeles County public health teams began visiting nursing home and long-term care facilities Wednesday to ensure all steps are being taken to protect against the coronavirus.
Ferrer said the teams over the past week had been visiting interim housing facilities, including homeless shelters, to check their ability to respond to a possible case of the illness.
Those teams will now focus on the nursing and long-term care facilities, an effort she said is “really both making sure that they’re able to adequately enforce all of their infectious disease control protocols, but just as importantly, we’d like to help them move to changing some common practices that may happen at their residences.”
Those practices include large community events that may occur at nursing homes, “activities that involve large (numbers of) people getting together,” and allowing visitors to enter facilities without first being checked to see if they are free of illness.
Health officials said people who are elderly, pregnant or have underlying health conditions should particularly engage in such “social distancing,” since they are at a heightened danger of becoming more seriously ill.