L.A. County confirms 61 new coronavirus cases, says median age among all patients is 47

Friday - 20/03/2020 21:10
Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times
Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times
The new cases brings L.A. County’s total to 292. The update comes one day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced extraordinary measures directing all Californians to stay at home.


One day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced extraordinary measures directing all Californians to stay at home amid the coronavirus outbreak, Los Angeles County confirmed 61 new coronavirus cases, including 12 people in Long Beach and two in Pasadena. The new cases bring the county’s total to 292 amid the growing outbreak. 

The median age for the total of those who have been infected is 47, county Public Health Department Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said. There are 138 people between the ages of 18 and 65 who have tested positive.

“The risk is spread across everyone,” Ferrer said at a briefing Friday.

So far, about 2,400 people have been tested in L.A. County. Roughly 10% of those have tested positive, health officials said. 

Asked why someone would be denied testing for the coronavirus and who ultimately makes the decision in L.A. County, Ferrer said an individual would need to go to a medical provider, who would then authorize a test.

“Don’t go to a hospital to get tested,” she said.

Officials also announced that the Sheraton Fairplex in Pomona will serve those who need to be quarantined. More than 200 rooms will be available for people who will be provided space on a first-come, first-served basis. Individuals who have tested positive for the virus, are showing symptoms or have been exposed to someone with the virus will be given priority.

Additional deaths were reported Friday across the state. Contra Costa County announced its first death related to the virus: a person in their 70s who had an underlying medical condition and had recently traveled to Europe. The patient died Thursday in an undisclosed hospital.

And Riverside County reported its fourth death, the 21st in California since the coronavirus outbreak began. Information about the person who died wasn’t immediately available.

Santa Clara County announced two additional deaths from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total to eight. 

The number of reported cases continues to rise across the state. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation confirmed Friday that an employee at California State Prison in Sacramento and an employee at San Quentin State Prison have both tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus. But the agency said there are no confirmed cases among inmates. 

Some 1,800 prisoners at San Quentin have been on lockdown most of the week after several inmates developed flu-like symptoms. The Corrections Department has not released the results of testing of those, or any other, prison inmates.

In Irvine, a firefighter at Station 4 tested positive for the coronavirus, leading the Orange County Fire Authority to place 24 additional firefighters with whom he had contact in self-isolation.

The firefighter had no known contact with a positive individual and is already feeling better, Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said.

Having 25 firefighters out could impact the department, but should not have a huge effect on a department of 1,100, Fennessy said.

A veteran tested positive at the West Los Angeles Veterans Affairs Medical Center on Wednesday. The person, who was admitted after coming into the emergency room, is being cared for in isolation, and the risk of transmission to other patients and staff is low, said Steve Ruh, chief of communications for the VA Greater L.A. Healthcare System. The VA is screening veterans and staffers and isolating those found to be at risk, Ruh said.

In San Diego County, a third cluster of COVID-19 patients was announced Thursday, as the local count of virus cases jumped from 80 to 105 and efforts to house vulnerable people in local hotels progressed.

To deal with a possible surge in coronavirus patients, the state plans to lease beds at a Northern California hospital and skilled nursing facility that were facing closure. California will lease the 357-bed Seton Medical Center in Daly City and 116-bed Seton Coastside in Moss Beach, the National Union of Healthcare Workers said in a news release.

In the meantime, Yosemite National Park shut down to all visitors on Friday. No access to the park will be permitted until further notice.

Amid the continuing spread, Newsom on Thursday ordered Californians to stay at home, marking the first mandatory restrictions placed on the lives of all 40 million residents in the state’s fight against the novel coronavirus.

Top federal officials applauded the decision at a White House press briefing Friday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that he “strongly” supported the move by Newsom, as well as a similar directive by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and urged residents of the two hard-hit states to heed the new orders.

President Trump also praised Newsom and Cuomo, saying, “I applaud them” for “taking very bold steps” to limit activities in their states.

Newsom’s action comes at a critical time in California, where more than 1,000 people have tested positive for the disease, and it appeared to be the most far-reaching directive of any issued by states battling the epidemic.

The mandatory order allows Californians to continue to visit gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores, farmers markets, food banks, convenience stores, takeout and delivery restaurants, banks and laundromats. People can leave their homes to care for a relative or a friend or seek healthcare services.

It exempts workers in 16 federal critical infrastructure sectors, including food and agriculture, healthcare, transportation, energy, financial services, emergency response and others.

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