Public Health Department: COVID-19 death toll in SCV at 17

COVID-19. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.
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The L.A. County Public Health Department has reported a total of 17 deaths related to COVID-19 for the Santa Clarita Valley area, nine more than were previously known to the public. 

The tally shows a total of 15 deaths in the city of Santa Clarita, one in Acton and one in Castaic, according to Public Health’s reports as of Friday morning. 

Previously, only eight deaths were publicly known for the SCV area, with seven of them having taken place at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, according to hospital officials. Information on any of the deceased, including age, residency and past medical history, was not provided by the hospital due to patient privacy policy. 

Public Health reported that nine deaths were attributed to the Oakmont retirement community, with four at its Santa Clarita location and five at its Valencia location. Oakmont officials declined to confirm the tally. 

“Out of respect for the medical privacy of our staff and residents, we are not going to discuss these numbers,” Nathan Ballard, spokesman for Oakmont, said via email. 

The new total of 17 deaths does not mean the local death toll increased by nine in a single day. Previous totals reported in The Signal have been based on other sources of information because the county initially was not providing a geographic breakdown of the countywide death toll. 

None of the 17 deaths are attributed as custody deaths at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic, according to communications officials with Public Health via email on Friday. Any custody deaths that would occur at Pitchess would be added to the total for Castaic. 

The updated death toll comes as Los Angeles County amends its health officer order, allowing all retail businesses and some outdoor spaces, such as beaches and trails, to reopen but with continued safety measures, such as the requirement to wear face masks and practice physical distancing. 

The Santa Clarita City Council has also taken steps to reopen the city quicker than other local government, saying its rate of infection remains “very low” compared to other areas of the county, according to a recent letter of opposition to the Board of Supervisors regarding any new extensions of the county’s Safer at Home order. 

“With this information provided and the active efforts to ‘slow the spread’ and “flatten the curve,’ the City Council believes this request for flexibility is justified for the cities in the North County region to begin the economic recovery process,” read the letter. 

A breakdown of deaths in the regions reported by Public Health is below, as of Friday: 

City of Santa Clarita: 15

Unincorporated – Acton: 1

Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 0

Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 0

Unincorporated – Castaic: 1 

Unincorporated – Saugus: 0

Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 0

Unincorporated – Val Verde: 0

Unincorporated – Valencia: 0

For all local coronavirus-related stories, visit: signalscv.com/2020/03/covid-19-coverage-summary.

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