UPDATE 3/20/2020: As of Friday afternoon, the number of COVID-19 cases reported by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health was 292, including 12 cases in Long Beach, two in Pasadena, and two in Lancaster. However, Long Beach, which maintains its own health department, reported two more cases late Friday morning, bringing the city’s total to 14 and the countywide total to 294.
LOS ANGELES – A second person has died in Los Angeles County due to the coronavirus, the county’s public health director announced Thursday, while the overall number of cases increased by 40, bringing the total to 230.
Two of the confirmed cases are in Lancaster, according to the Lancaster City website. “At this time, both patients [are] doing well and expected to go home in a few days,” according to the city website, which was last updated on March 19.
Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the county Department of Public Health, said the person who died was between 30 and 50 years old and had an unspecified underlying health condition. The person lived in a “small community” near Pasadena.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the person who’s deceased,” Ferrer said. “I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope you know that we as a community are mourning with you.”
Ferrer did not identify the patient, but relatives told TMZ the man was 34-year old Jeffrey Ghazarian of Glendora. The family said he became sick during a trip to Orlando, Florida, where he visited Disney World and Universal Studios.
The family posted on his Facebook page, “Our sweet, loving, fun Jeffrey went to be with Jesus this morning. He suffered a lot and put up a good fight. We will miss our Jeff every day but we are thankful for all the fun happy memories of the times we had together.”
According to Facebook posts by the family, Ghazarian tested positive for coronavirus on March 13 and was admitted to a hospital the next day.
Ferrer stressed that the county is going to see continued increases in cases over the next four to 12 weeks.
“But that doesn’t mean that the important actions that you’re all taking to combat this virus are not working,” she said. “Social distancing is critical and we implore you to take seriously everyone’s obligation to limit their exposures to others and to limit others from being exposed to you. This is the one way that we can all be serious about what it means to try to slow down the increasing number of cases here in the county.”
Ferrer also gave an ominous warning, saying, “As a general rule of thumb, you should assume that you may be infected and that others around you may be infected.”
“Therefore, act accordingly, ” she said. “Take every precaution possible to avoid infecting others and to avoid becoming infected. That’s the goal of social distancing.”
She noted the number of cases will continue to rise in part because of the increased availability of testing, with seven labs operating with multiple sites.
On Wednesday, Dr. Christina Ghaly, who runs the county hospital system, echoed the point that some infected individuals — who may not have any symptoms at all — are walking around unaware they have the virus.
“People should assume that those they come into contact with might be positive for the virus,” Ghaly said.
Ghaly on Thursday again noted a critical shortage of blood supplies, encouraging people to donate. She said there is no clinical evidence that the coronavirus can be spread through the blood.