As the number of coronavirus cases continued to surge across Los Angeles County, the county health officer issued an order Wednesday requiring all individuals who are presumed positive or have tested positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate, and for all close contacts of such individuals to self-quarantine.
L.A. County confirmed three additional deaths linked to the coronavirus Wednesday but is no longer including a Lancaster teenager whose death was reported Tuesday in its count.
“We’ve asked the CDC to complete an investigation on that case,” L.A. County Public Health Department Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Officials confirmed 138 new cases of the virus, bringing the county’s total to 799.
So far, more than 6,300 people have been tested in the county for the virus, Ferrer said. Of those, 11% have tested positive.
Ferrer said 160 people who tested positive have been hospitalized at some point. There are currently 44 hospitalized individuals, including four who are in their 30s.
The total death count in the county, excluding the Lancaster teen, is 13.
Ferrer said that 1% of those who have tested positive in the county have died. The United States’ rate is 1.5%, a higher rate than with the flu.
Officials are also working to find additional hospital beds for non-COVID-19 patients, including the use of the Navy ship Mercy, which will provide more than 1,000 spaces. Pentagon Press Sec. Alyssa Farah said the Mercy will arrive in Los Angeles on Friday — earlier than expected.
With coronavirus-related deaths in California now over 60, state officials are warning that the worst is still to come as the virus continues to spread.
San Mateo County reported three more deaths Wednesday, bringing the total there to five.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned Tuesday that residents should be prepared for more loss of life as the pandemic expands.
Garcetti said L.A. could be six to 12 days from seeing similar numbers to the outbreak in New York City, where the death toll has dramatically increased in recent days.
“It’s coming,” Garcetti said. “The peak is not here yet. The peak will be bad. People will lose their lives.”
The mayor also rebuffed President Trump’s earlier comments that he wanted to quickly ease restrictions and said that Angelenos should be “prepared for a couple months like this.”
“I know that everybody is hopeful, and some are putting out that hope of us being back in churches by Easter or synagogues by Passover or restarting the economy in a couple weeks,” Garcetti said. “I think we owe it to everybody to be straightforward and honest. We will not be back to … that level of normal in that short period of time.”
Ferrer reiterated that message Wednesday, pointing to the rapid growth in cases in New York and in Italy.
“We would be foolish to not prepare for a similar scenario in L.A. County,” she said. “We talk about numbers, but these aren’t numbers — these are people’s lives.”
Shortly after L.A. County initiated its quarantine order, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) announced she was awaiting test results for the coronavirus after developing a fever over the weekend.
“I will remain in self-quarantine until I have the test results back and until directed by my doctor that it is safe for me to leave my home,” she said.
Coronavirus infection cases in the state have surpassed 2,800. But that number is expected to dramatically rise as more testing occurs. New York has recorded more than 200 deaths and 26,000 total cases.
California officials think they also will see major spikes in the coming days and weeks.
San Francisco officials said earlier this week that a surge in coronavirus infection is expected to come within a week or two.
“The worst is yet to come,” San Francisco Director of Health Dr. Grant Colfax said at a news conference Monday. “Every community where the virus has taken hold has seen a surge in the number of coronavirus patients who need to be hospitalized. We expect that to happen in San Francisco soon, in a week or two, or perhaps even less.”
On Tuesday, San Francisco reported its first death linked to the coronavirus. The man who died was in his 40s and had multiple underlying health conditions. The city has confirmed at least 152 cases of COVID-19, roughly three weeks after reporting its first.
The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which oversees the transit, streets and taxi services of the city, confirmed Wednesday that one of its employees tested positive for the virus. The news follows the L.A. Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s confirmation that three employees connected to the agency had been infected with the coronavirus.
As confirmed cases continue to grow throughout the state, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Trump’s remarks did not reflect reality in California.
“April for California would be sooner than any of the experts that I talked to believe is possible,” Newsom said.
Newsom now expects California will need 50,000 hospital beds to deal with COVID-19 patients, more than double what his administration forecast last week. He said the state’s 416 hospitals will execute “surge plans” to create 30,000 new beds.
Newsom also ordered a halt to the intake and transfer of inmates at the state’s 35 prisons and four youth correctional facilities. He said British billionaire Richard Branson will donate medical gear to help healthcare workers, joining efforts by Tesla and Apple executives.
Officials on Tuesday said coronavirus may have claimed the life of a Lancaster teenager, possibly the nation’s first death of a person under 18 related to the virus.
Ferrer called it “a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages.” But in a statement late Tuesday, public health officials noted that although “early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation” besides the coronavirus for the death.
As officials try to determine the exact cause of death for the youth, it’s possible that the coronavirus and bacterial infection are correlated, one expert said. Ferrer said Wednesday the county has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the case.