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3 New Deaths In LA County; Total Confirmed Cases Now Tops 660

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Three more people ill with the new coronavirus have died in Los Angeles County, and one of them was a Lancaster resident who was younger than 18.

Barbara Ferrer, who heads L.A. County's Public Health Department, said those three cases are in addition to one new death reported in Long Beach yesterday. That brings the total coronavirus-related deaths to 11 in L.A. County.

One of the people who died was elderly and had underlying health conditions, but the death of a minor was a grim reminder that COVID-19, though it has tended to be more severe in older patients, can infect anyone, Ferrer said:

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"These are difficult numbers to report, because behind these numbers are families and friends who are experiencing terrible loss. We, the entire L.A. County community, keep you in our thoughts and our prayers."

The total number of confirmed cases in the county is now 662, Ferrer said. Of those, 128 are being newly reported today, and in the past 48 hours there have been 256 new confirmed cases. The new cases include 21 reported by Long Beach and six reported by Pasadena.

The new numbers came during the daily briefing on the county's response to the coronavirus pandemic. Here's more from that briefing:


As of March 23, more than 5,700 people have been tested for COVID-19, Ferrer said. The rate of positive results among those tested has hovered around 10% since local testing began, Ferrer said.

Testing capacity is still very limited, and health officials said the county must continue to prioritize who is tested. For now, testing is "primarily for people who are symptomatic and for whom a clinical provider has determined that testing is appropriate," Ferrer said.


We're all under orders to practice social distancing — which means limiting our movements to essential trips like getting food or medicine, staying six feet or more apart from others and washing your hands frequently. For anyone who is sick or is believed to have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 more extreme measures should be taken: self-isolation and quarantine. Taking those additional steps are important public health tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Ferrer put it plainly: If you test positive for COVID-19, you are legally required to self-isolate. That means stay at home. That means don't go to work. That means do everything you can to avoid getting others sick.

Ferrer also said you shouldn't wait for a positive test result if you have good reason to suspect you may be positive.

"It's really important that folks do not wait to be notified by someone from the public health department if you've already been told by a provider that you're either positive — your test results are positive — or that you are to presume that you're positive, before you begin to isolate yourself."

She said for now she's asking for people's help on compliance, but the county will soon be issuing "blanket orders that legally will cover all of us should we get that diagnosis."
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Ferrer said there are still no known positive cases among inmates or among those who are homeless, but she said that situation could change "at any minute and we would expect in both situations that we would start seeing people who are positive just like we're seeing lots more positive people in our communities."

Ferrer said she expects to begin sharing information on potential outbreaks in institutional settings starting tomorrow. This process has been slower, she said, because families, local residents and facility staff have to be notified first.



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