1st coronavirus death reported in L.A. County; another case of community spread suspected

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Los Angeles County reported its first coronavirus-related death on Wednesday and announced six new cases, including one suspected of being community-acquired.

The person who died was a woman over 60 who had underlying health conditions and had recently traveled extensively over the past month, including having a long layover in South Korea, L.A. County Department of Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said at news conference Wednesday.

The woman wasn’t a resident and was in the county visiting friends before she was hospitalized.

County officials reported six additional cases, the city of Pasadena confirmed its first case and the city of Long Beach confirmed its fourth case, bringing the total number of cases up to 29 in L.A. county. Pasadena and Long Beach both have their own public health departments.

Three of the new reported cases were people who were in the same household as a previously identified coronavirus case in the county. One of those people is hospitalized.

One case involves a person who had traveled to France and returned home sick and another involves someone who had traveled to a religious conference in another state and came in contact with an infected person.

Ferrer said one of the new cases is believed to be L.A. County’s second case of community-acquired infection. That person is hospitalized.

Pasadena’s first case involves a resident who had close contact with an infected person outside the city and has been in quarantine since being exposed, City of Pasadena Public Health Department  announced Wednesday.

“We’re likely to see more deaths,” Ferrer said.

L.A. County’s coronavirus-related death brings the state’s total up to four. Three other deaths have been reported in Placer, Sacramento and Santa Clara counties.

“We all know that there are more cases in our community that have yet to be diagnosed and we need everyone to help us try to slow the spread of this infection,” Ferrer said.

In neighboring Orange County, officials announced Wednesday two new confirmed patients, bringing the county’s total to four. Two of the patients are age 50 or older, while the other two are between 18 and 49.

O.C. is monitoring another two presumptive cases, health authorities said.

L.A. County officials said that in the absence of a vaccine, social distancing is “the next best tool” to slow down the spread of an infectious disease.

“We will get to a point, unfortunately here in L.A. County, where we will be asking for events to close. But we’re not there yet,” Ferrer said.

The health department asked event organizers to consider postponing or cancelling non-essential community events.

Officials said that those over 65 years old, those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women should avoid nonessential travel, public gatherings, theaters, concerts and sporting events.

The department also urged the public to abstain from all cruise ship travel and stay home if they’re sick.

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