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First Child Dies of COVID-19; Numbers Climb and Business Loopholes Tighten

A title card created by the Alhambra Source from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's renderings of COVID-19.


Alhambra , CA

At Tuesday’s press briefing at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, Director Barbara Ferrer reported the updated numbers of coronavirus cases and fatalities in the county, including the death of a child.

She said this report is “a devastating reminder that COVID-19 affects people of all ages.”

The four deaths include one reported by the Long Beach health department and brought the total in L.A. County to 11. The three other deaths were the person under age 18 from Lancaster, two were aged 50-70, one with underlying health conditions who resided in the West Adams area in the city of Los Angeles and the other’s residential location is still being investigated.

Lancaster has recorded eight cases, but the youth is the first fatality there and the first under 18 in the county. It may also be the first such death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on March 18 and no deaths under the age of 19 had been reported.

As of midnight Monday, 662 cases have been confirmed or reported by private labs to the L.A. County Department of Public Health. At some point in their illness, 119 of  the 662 cases have been hospitalized. Labs are required to report cases to the Department of Public Health but there is significant lag time, Ferrer stated.

The lag time between being tested – if your symptoms were even deemed serious enough by your doctor to order it – and receiving the results could be as long as  four days. If you have a test, Ferrer said you need to act as though you are positive and notify all close contacts, caregivers and coworkers so they can begin their 14-day quarantine.

The press release from L.A. County Department of Health emailed after the briefing gave a reminder by Ferrer, “COVID-19 does not discriminate by age, race or income level, and what we are seeing in places like New York is indicative of what we should prepare to experience here.” On March 1, New York reported its first positive case; as of mid-afternoon on March 24 the state had 25,000 positive cases. For comparison, California’s reported cases are just over 2,100 as of March 24.

By law, if you are being tested or have been told by a health care provide that you might have COVID-19, you must self-isolate – remove yourself from people, and all of your contacts must quarantine, Ferrer reminded the press watching the live stream briefing.

There are many cases with mild symptoms that are positive but do not have serious enough symptoms to be tested. Everyone needs to practice social distancing.

“You know your body best,” Ferrer said, “trust yourself.” She used the example: if you don’t get fevers but rapidly develop one of 102 degrees, that’s a serious fever and is concerning as a symptom of COVID-19.

The briefing by the numbers:

  • Total cases: 662 including 21 in Long Beach and six in Pasadena
  • Cases by age group:
    • 0 to 17: 10
    • 18 to 40: 268
    • 41 to 65: 250
    • Over 65: 107
  • 11 Deaths
  • Number of cases around the West San Gabriel Valley:
    • Pasadena: 6
    • Alhambra: 5
    • East Los Angeles: 1
    • Lincoln Heights: 1
    • Monterey Park: 3
    • San Gabriel: 1
    • South Pasadena: 3
    • West Covina: 1
  • Cases under investigation: 62
  • Reminder: numbers are changing as some previously reported cases were not under L.A. County’s jurisdiction; Locations with less than 25,000 residents have been added to the nearest city or community.

L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva held his own press briefing on Tuesday to address the tightening of loopholes in orders to shut businesses and the reduction of jail population.

Gun stores, strip clubs and night clubs are non-essential businesses, Villanueva confirmed. Public and private security still need to be able to operate so the county is not banning the sale of firearms, but the panic buying of guns that create large congregations of customers needs to end.

Some of the confusion of essential and non-essential businesses comes from the slightly different orders from the state and county, he said. County officials are working to rectify that issue.

As of Monday, 1,700 nonviolent inmates of the county jail system were released. It lowered the jail population by 10%, according to Villanueva.

L.A. County Department of Mental Health Director Jonathan Sherin gave remarks at Tuesday’s briefing as well.

His advice for those who are struggling to cope with the radical changes brought about by  social distancing is they should seek help from friends, family and a mental health specialist.

With change comes the unknown and that heightens anxiety, particularly in those with disabilities or children, who require routine, Sherin said. Reach out to the county for help.

Sherin advises to keep the healthy old routines including healthy eating, sleeping and exercising, and establish new routines like picking up an old hobby. Avoid unhealthy routines that include drugs, alcohol and trolling information rife with rumors that affect mental health.

L.A. County Board of Supervisors chair Kathryn Barger said it’s OK to say you need help. Check on elderly neighbors or drop off groceries for someone. Care for others by ensuring they have resources available to them. Don’t hoard essentials.

Public Health says if you are mildly ill with any kind of sickness, you need to stay home for at least seven days, or 72 hours after you have no fever, whichever is longer.

COVID-19 symptoms include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Call a doctor if you’re experiencing these.

Emergency warning signs are difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to wake, and bluish lips or face. If you or someone you know has these, seek medical attention immediately.

Domestic violence resources are available for you or others you may know. Shelters, law enforcement and non-profits are all continuing to function, and emergency protective orders are still being enforced.

Call 800-978-3000 or go to their page.

Visit the Los Angeles County Department of Public Heath’s page.

Do not call 9-1-1 or go to an emergency room for COVID-19 testing unless you are seriously ill.

L.A. County residents can call 2-1-1, the county’s information line, for referrals to resources or help.

The California Department of Public Health’s coronavirus page is here.


For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.


Updated at 6:30 p.m.: At 5:55 p.m., 15 minutes after publication, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health sent a press release stating that the juvenile fatality reported today “will require further evaluation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Though early tests indicated a positive result for COVID-19, the case is complex and there may be an alternate explanation for this fatality. Patient privacy prevents our offering further details at this time.”

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