LOS ANGELES, CA — Los Angeles health officials announced the first coronavirus death of a child in the county as confirmed cases continue to skyrocket across the Southland. Over the last 24 hours, Los Angeles County Public Health Department officials confirmed 128 new cases of coronavirus and another four deaths. The county now has 669 cases, including 11 where the patient died.
The young person who died from the coronavirus was from the Lancaster area, 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.”
Officials did not release additional details about the first person under 18 to die from COVID-19 in Los Angeles. It is unclear if the youth suffered from underlying health problems.
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.
She 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.
Authorities announced the quarantine of eight Los Angeles Police Department officers and one civilian employee Monday who contracted the coronavirus after a sickened officer reportedly continued working while awaiting coronavirus test results, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“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.
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For days, health officials have been warning residents to prepare for the outbreak to spike. On Monday, officials also announced 128 additional cases despite countywide “safer at home” orders, cautioning residents to stay home and avoid gatherings. It also closed nonessential businesses. However, many Angelenos failed to heed the orders, crowding beaches and parks. The situation forced Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to announce further public area closures — including the Venice Beach Boardwalk.
Garcetti also told people not to take risks with their health.
“Don’t mess around,” he said. “This is too important.”
Garcetti also said the city will launch a portal to be rolled out in the next couple of days designed to test the most vulnerable Angelenos — 65 and over with underlying health conditions, who are showing coronavirus symptoms.
These residents will be prioritized to be tested, and will need to be able to prove identification to get those tests.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
- Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
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City News Service contributed to this report.