County ramps up COVID-19 testing, number of cases tops 500

Los Angeles County Seal.

Los Angeles County officials announced Monday they’re making COVID-19 coronavirus testing available to high-risk residents countywide who are showing symptoms, as 10 million residents enter day four of the “Safer at Home” order, and total cases reach 536. 

First responders and medical personnel will be the first to get tested, said county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th district covers the Santa Clarita Valley. 

“Our first responders and healthcare provider workers are on the front line of this crisis. We want to ensure their safety and must safeguard against any further transmission of this virus,” said Barger during a live Facebook report. “In addition to first responders, and health care workers, we will continue to test high-risk individuals.” 

The move comes after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s announcement Sunday the city is ramping up testing for those most at risk, such as individuals 65 and older, people with underlying chronic health conditions and those who have been exposed to a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

The roll-out for testing is expected to happen in four phases, starting with the first one next week for first responders and health care providers. 

Phase two will be ensuring access for vulnerable patient populations, such as at homeless shelters and skilled nursing facilities. The third phase will be to ensure that doctors treating individuals at home have access to testing for their at-home patients in order to alleviate hospitals. The last phase is planned for widespread public access to testing. 

As of Friday, an estimated 25,200 tests have been conducted across California, with about 2,400 completed tests in the county. With $1.25 million in county funds, an additional 20,000 tests will roll out countywide, said David Ryu, a Los Angeles city councilman representing District 4. 

“With increased testing, we’ll most likely come up with an increase in the number of reported infections,” he said. “As epidemiologists and public health officials alike will tell you, this does not necessarily mean we are having an outbreak of new infections. Rather, testing is helping us identify our current problem so that our public health officials can better isolate and treat the problem.”

New cases

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials confirmed additional cases of the novel coronavirus and two new deaths Monday, bringing the total count to 536 cases and seven deaths.

As of 12:30 p.m. Monday, Public Health identified 128 new cases, while the Santa Clarita Valley has had nine cases since Sunday. No new ones were reported in the SCV, as of Monday morning. 

Of the cases reported, 80% of people with the virus are between the ages of 18 and 65, and 45% of individuals were of ages 18 through 40. 

“This virus can, in fact, affect people across the board, and all people need to be vigilant and practice every directive, that’s been issued at the state, county, and local level,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health. 

Stricter orders: no gatherings, no open trails

In an effort to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the county strengthened its “Safer at Home” order over the weekend to mirror Gov. Gavin Newsom’s stay-at-home directive by prohibiting all gatherings and events of any size, both public and private. 

The revised order also included a directive to close playgrounds, golf courses, barbershops and nail salons. All county hiking trails will also close, including those operated by the Mountains Recreation and Conservations Authority, such as the Ed Davis Park in Towsley Canyon, Newhall Pass Trailhead, Pico Canyon and the Michael D. Antonovich Open Space area. 

In the city of Santa Clarita, officials announced Monday the following would close as of Tuesday as a result of people not practicing social distancing: 

  • Basketball courts
  • Tennis and pickleball courts
  • Dog parks
  • Park restrooms

“It was disappointing to see the number of people who were not following the social distancing orders that are in place to protect our community,” said Mayor Cameron Smyth in a statement. “In order to stop the group recreation that many have witnessed at our City parks, it is necessary to add these additional restrictions.”

Residents countywide, including those in the SCV, are ordered to stay at home except when visiting a business deemed essential, such as a clinic, bank or pharmacy; engaging in necessary activities, including going to a grocery store or laundromat; or participating in an individual or family outdoor activity. 

Related To This Story

Latest NEWS