L.A. County Confirms 1 Additional Case, 5 Cases Confirmed in Orange County


Health officials in Los Angeles County confirmed an additional case of the novel coronavirus, known as COVID-19 today.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the head of the county health department, said the person was taken directly from Los Angeles International Airport to a hospital on Monday, but should now be at home, in self-isolation. This case brings the total number of cases being overseen by the L.A. County Health Department to 17

No other details about the patient were released at this time.

Long Beach, which has a separate health department from the county, confirmed three cases of the virus, bringing the overall number up to 20 in L.A. County.

Ferrer noted that both Long Beach and Pasadena, which has also seen cases of the novel coronavirus, are working closely with the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

All told, the number of cases in L.A. County include:

  • Eight people who'd recently traveled to 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;
  • One person who attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference in Washington D.C.
  • A traveler from the area of Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. That person has since recovered.
  • One person who recently traveled to Japan
  • One person who could be the first case of 'community transmission' in L.A. County.

Long Beach said their three cases included two men and one woman. The test results are being considered preliminary until they are confirmed by officials with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ferrer also reiterated to the public on Tuesday that they should begin considering "limiting activities where you have a lot of exposure to the general public."

“This is particularly important for pregnant women, for older adults and for people with serious chronic medical conditions,” she said. “The reason we're talking about these three groups of people is they are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. It's not that they're necessarily at higher risk for getting sick, but if they were to get sick, unlike the vast majority of people who will probably experience mild or moderate illness, folks who are pregnant or older adults or who have chronic medical conditions may in fact experience more serious illness.”

Ferrer added that public health teams have been visiting interim housing facilities - including homeless shelters - to check their ability on responding to a possible outbreak in the city's homeless population. Teams are visiting homeless shelters on Tuesday and on Wednesday, the teams will begin visiting nursing homes and long-term car facilities.

Ferrer says they are doing this to make 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.”

Meanwhile, health officials in Orange County told the OC Board of Supervisors that five people have tested positive for COVID-19. Two of them have been confirmed and three are "presumptive" cases in which officials are still waiting for the official word from federal authorities. Four of the new cases contracted the disease through travel-related activities, while one person got it from "person-to-person" contact from someone who was ill.

Three are male, one is female; two are between 18 and 49 years old, one is between 50 and 64, and one is older than 65. At least one patient who contacted the virus has fully recovered.

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner questioned the level of concern.

“I'm trying to put the real risk to some perspective,” Wagner said. “I'm hearing from chambers of commerce in my district that businesses are cutting back on travel to Orange County. We're seeing tourism down. We're seeing conventions get canceled, and I guess my question is from a public health standpoint, is that an appropriate response?”

Wagner said it appears some people go undiagnosed because it feels as if they have a cold only.

“Is this a disaster in waiting?” Wagner asked.

University officials at Cal State Long Beach said 10 students there are currently self-quarantined after they attended a "large event in Washington, D.C., at which three people subsequently tested positive for COVID- 19." Officials did not elaborate whether the students had recently attended the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference that was also attended by a coronavirus patient and two other people who have since tested positive.

“CSUN has contacted each student to assist with these efforts and arrange for alternative learning options,” Harrison wrote in a message to the campus community.

Travelers who are returning from Italy, South Korea, mainland China or Iran are being asked to "self-quarantine themselves for 14 days upon their return to the United States."

So far, there have been 28 deaths from coronavirus in the United States, while more than 4,000 people have died worldwide.

Photo: Getty Images

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