Four more people died from the novel coronavirus in LA County, officials announced Tuesday, March 24, including one person in Long Beach, which the city’s Health Department announced Monday.
The total number of people who have died as a result of the virus is now 11.
One of the newly reported deaths was a Lancaster resident under the age of 18, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s Public Health director.
Ferrer said the news was “a devastating reminder that COVID-19 infects people of all ages.
“These are difficult numbers to report because behind these numbers,” Ferrer added, “are families and friends who are experiencing terrible loss.”
Ferrer also reported 128 more cases have been confirmed, bringing the total countywide tally to 662.
The county’s latest tally included 21 cases in Long Beach and six in Pasadena; Long Beach officials reported Tuesday their count had grown to 28.
One of the deaths reported Tuesday was announced Monday, March 23, by Long Beach officials; that person was a woman in her 50s with underlying health conditions.
The other two were people between the ages of 50 and 70; one, who had underlying health conditions, was a West Adams resident. The residence of the other is still being investigated.
About 42% of the cases in LA County so far have been reported in people between the ages of 18 and 40, while 39% have been reported for people from the ages of 41 to 65.
Of the county’s 662 cases, 119 — or 18% — have resulted in hospitalization.
As of Monday, Ferrer said, more than 5,700 people in the county have been tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. About 10% of those people have tested positive.
Ferrer said testing remains limited in LA County, but emphasized that the county’s capacity will expand soon.
“By the end of the week, we will have the capacity to have thousands and thousands of more test kits,” she said. “So that many, many, more people, under orders from their physicians and clinicians would be able to get tested.”
For now, Ferrer said, there is typically a long lag time between someone being tested and when results are available.
LA County recommended to public health officials last week that they only test patients for COVID-19 “when a diagnostic result will change clinical management or inform public health response.”
The recommendation came as the county stopped trying to contain the virus in favor of slowing its spread.
Ferrer said Tueday that the county’s limited testing strategy meant that the only people who are tested are those who are determined to have “a good chance” of having the disease. So, she said, people who are waiting on testing results should act as if they have contracted COVID-19.
“If there’s a good chance you could be positive, you need to be isolating yourself at home,” she said, “and really keeping away from other people.”
During Tuesday’s briefing, Dr. Jonathan Sherin, the county’s Mental Health director, also emphasized the need to focus on social and emotional well-being at this moment — even as people are directed to maintain physical distance from others.
“For those in need of immediate help, it is very, very important that you reach out and express your feelings with someone you trust, whether it’s a family member. a friend or a mental health professional,” Sherin said. “We must all understand and embrace the notion that social distancing guidelines are only about physical distance.”