Another LAX screener tests positive for coronavirus as L.A. County cases rise to 13

Coronavirus

Health officials announced two new coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County Friday, including a second Los Angeles International Airport screener.

The number of COVID-19 cases confirmed in the county climbed to 13, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The LAX screener worked in the quarantine station at the same time as another screener who tested positive for the virus on Tuesday and was said to have mild symptoms.

The two employees are likely to have had the same exposure, L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a news conference Friday.

Workers at LAX were tested after the first medical screener at the airport tested positive for the virus. The Department of Homeland Security, which contracted them, said that the screener had all the right protective equipment while on the job checking passengers on incoming flights from China and nearby countries.

The other COVID-19 case announced Friday is a person who traveled to northern Italy with a group that included seven other people in L.A. County who all tested positive for the virus over the past few days.

All patients are being isolated, officials said.

Ferrer said there’s no known signs of community transmission associated with any of the county’s 13 cases, and the risk of transmission for the general public remains low.

From the 13 cases in the county, one person has fully recovered. That person was a traveler from Wuhan, China.

Other cases in the county include two family members who were infected by another relative who doesn’t live in the county.

“The primary message for everyone is to stay home when you’re sick … particularly, don’t go to schools and don’t go into work,” Ferrer said.

While L.A. County previously only had one lab capable of testing for coronavirus, another has recently opened in Los Angeles and a third will be capable of running tests next week.

This means that more tests can be processed each day, allowing for more residents to get tested for the virus, according to Ferrer.

Ferrer said that having only one lab presented a bigger limitation than the number of testing kits available, and the department had to limit who they can test.

Hospitals will now be able to choose which samples need to be tested based on the person’s symptoms and exposure history, and then send them to a lab.

“Most of the lab specimens we test are still negative… So we urge people, if you hear some people were tested, please don’t assume that they’re positive,” Ferrer said.

At a news conference Friday, Justin Erbacci Interim CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, said LAX officials are working closely with county health officials, the CDC and other local, state and federal officials to combat the spread of coronavirus.

He urged travelers to visit LAX’s website to find out details about their efforts.

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