The overall number of coronavirus cases in L.A. County stood at 231 Friday – out of a state total of 675 – and a second person in the county has died from the virus.
Relatives of the second fatality resulting from the virus in L.A. County told the celebrity news website TMZ.com that he was 34-year old Jeffrey Ghazarian of Glendora. The family said he became sick during a trip to Orlando, Florida, where he visited Disney World and Universal Studios.
The man died Thursday at Huntington Hospital after spending a week on a ventilator. The Los Angeles Times quoted medical and government sources as saying he had underlying medical conditions, including asthma and bronchitis.
“I want to express my deepest condolences to the family and friends of the person who’s deceased,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director Thursday. “I’m so sorry for your loss and I hope you know that we as a community are mourning with you.”
The family posted on his Facebook page, “Our sweet, loving, fun Jeffrey went to be with Jesus this morning. He suffered a lot and put up a good fight. We will miss our Jeff every day but we are thankful for all the fun happy memories of the times we had together.”
According to Facebook posts by the family, Ghazarian tested positive for coronavirus on March 13 and was admitted to a hospital the next day.
Ferrer Thursday reported 40 additional cases in the county, while Long Beach officials reported two more cases. The countywide total now stands at 231 cases, according to the Department of Public Health. Of those cases, 12 are in the city of Long Beach and two are in Pasadena — both of which maintain their own health departments.
Long Beach officials said three of that city’s 12 patients have already recovered.
Ferrer stressed that the county is going to see continued increases in cases over the next four to 12 weeks.
“But that doesn’t mean that the important actions that you’re all taking to combat this virus are not working,” she said. “Social distancing is critical and we implore you to take seriously everyone’s obligation to limit their exposures to others and to limit others from being exposed to you. This is the one way that we can all be serious about what it means to try to slow down the increasing number of cases here in the county.”
Ferrer also issued an ominous warning, saying, “As a general rule of thumb, you should assume that you may be infected and that others around you may be infected.”
“Therefore, act accordingly, ” she said. “Take every precaution possible to avoid infecting others and to avoid becoming infected. That’s the goal of social distancing.”
She noted the number of cases will continue to rise in part because of the increased availability of testing, with seven labs operating with multiple sites. But she stressed that while lab availability is increasing, it remains limited.
According to Ferrer, about 21 percent of people tested at the county lab wind up being positive for coronavirus, while the rate in commercial labs is running about 10 percent.
She said she understands the public desire for “universal testing,” but said people need to talk to their doctor, and the doctor will determine if a test is warranted. She said limited testing availability should be reserved for those who most need it.
“Even if you’re identified as a person who had close contact with a confirmed case, and you have no symptoms, you don’t need to be tested,” Ferrer said. “If you’re the contact of a person who is a close case, you have to quarantine for 14 days. You have to. It’s a mandatory order.”
On Wednesday, Dr. Christina Ghaly, who runs the county hospital system, echoed the point that some infected individuals — who may be asymptomatic — are walking around unaware they have the virus.
Ghaly on Thursday again noted a critical shortage of blood supplies, encouraging people to donate. She said there is no clinical evidence that the coronavirus can be spread through the blood.
Ferrer also issued a stern warning to younger residents to heed the warnings against public gatherings, saying this is not the time to “have a party at your house” or gather with a group of people at the beach.
“This virus has infected thousands and thousands of people all across the world, and a large number of them are people that are young,” she said.
Ferrer said anyone who is feeling “stressed and overwhelmed” can call a 24-hour support hotline operated by the county Department of Mental Health at 800-854-7771.
On Thursday morning, the California Department of Public Health reported a total of 675 cases statewide and 16 deaths.