The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Los Angeles County continued to rise on Friday, March 20, as health officials announced 61 new cases, making a total of 292 confirmed cases in the county overall. That’s 101 new confirmed cases in the past 48 hours.
There have been two deaths related to COVID-19 in LA County so far. The latest fatality was reported on Thursday when a man in his 30s with underlying health conditions died in the Pasadena area.
LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said the list of confirmed cases included 138 people between the ages of 18 and 65.
“Younger people, while they might have a better outcome, are in fact one of the largest groups of people we have tested who are positive for COVID-19,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer said about 2,400 people have been tested so far at both public and commercial labs with roughly 10 percent testing positive.
“When we look at wheat’s happening in other cities and states we know that we need to be prepared for many more cases,” Ferrer said.
LA County also announced that the Sheraton Fairplex Hotel & Convention in Pomona will become a quarantine center beginning Monday, March 23. The county has reserved 244 rooms until at least May 31, according to Supervisor Hilda Solis, District 1.
The Office of Emergency Management was still looking for additional places to house individuals either diagnosed with COVID-19 or those still waiting test results. The first location announced was at Dockweiler Beach in Playa Del Rey where motor homes this week appeared ready and waiting for occupants.
“I know there are many people who due to their circumstances are unable to self isolate,” Solis said. “We are putting others who reside in that home for exposure to the virus.”
Miguel Santana, president and CEO of the 500-acre Fairplex, said the hotel had also partnered with a local food bank to make its parking lot available as a drive-thru food pantry beginning April 1, and the hotel’s childcare center will be offered to first responders.
“We are here to help and do our part and we encourage others to do the same,” Santana said.
The numbers of confirmed cases so far most definitely does not represent the total number of people infected, according to Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. Because of limited testing and a delay in confirming cases by the county, the actual number of people infected could be assumed to be much higher, Ferrer has said. Experts predict the number of confirmed cases will double roughly every three days.
The goal at this point, according to Ferrer, is to slow the spread of the disease so that the hospitals are not overrun with patients like what happened in Wuhan, China and now Italy.
The most recent tallies come a day after the Los Angeles area and the rest of the state were placed under new and more stringent “stay at home” orders where all non-essential businesses were ordered closed. Residents could still go outside for walks and exercise or to pick up groceries or pickup from restaurants. Parks and beaches remained open, but gatherings of more than 10 were prohibited and where there were less than 10, health officials still are recommending social distancing by staying at least six feet apart.
County officials alongside LA Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement about the new orders Thursday evening, March 19, followed by a similar order issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom, though the county and city orders were a bit more stringent. Ferrer said these measures will likely last four to eight weeks and to prepared for even longer.
“Where social distancing has been done well and where public health officials have been able to identify who is infected, they have had success in slowing the spread and diminishing the number of people each day who are infected,” Ferrer said.
The latest numbers in LA County included 12 cases confirmed in Long Beach and two in Pasadena. While there was not yet a confirmed case among jail inmates or an individual experiencing homelessness, Ferrer said it was “just a matter of time.”
As Los Angeles County numbers continued to grow, so did those in neighboring counties. In Riverside County, where there have been four deaths, 22 people were confirmed with COVID-19 as of Friday. Orange County had 53 cases with zero deaths, as of Thursday. San Bernardino had five cases as of Thursday.
The California Department of Health, as of Thursday, reported 1,006 confirmed cases, not including the Grand Princess, and 19 deaths. About a fourth of the cases were community acquired. Nationally, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Friday reported 15,219 total US cases, 201 deaths, more than doubling in both categories since Wednesday.
Globally, the World Health Organization, as of March Thursday, confirmed 209,839 cases and 8,778 deaths worldwide.
Source: Orange County Register