LANCASTER — It appears Lancaster has a third confirmed case of COVID-19, based on the latest listing provided by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Friday.
Mayor R. Rex Parris said he had been informed of the additional confirmed case and that the patient had been seen at Antelope Valley Hospital.
The first two cases, reported Wednesday, were patients treated at the hospital.
No confirmed cases have been reported by the Public Health Department in Palmdale as of yet.
The third Lancaster case is one of the 61 new cases reported Friday countywide, bringing the overall tally to 292 confirmed cases, with two deaths, according to the county Public Health Department.
The median age of those with positive tests is 47 years old, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Although the effects may be more severe on those who are older, 138 of the cases in Los Angeles County are in people age 18 to 65, she said.
“The risk is spread across everybody who lives here,” Ferrer said.
Forty-eight people who tested positive overall have been hospitalized at some point, and three of the most recent cases are in hospitals.
As of March 18, about 2,400 people in the county have been tested, with 10% returning positive results, Ferrer said.
“We know that we need to be prepared for many, many new cases,” she said. “With many new cases, we must do everything we can to practice social distancing everywhere we are in order to not overwhelm our healthcare system.”
The continued increase in confirmed cases comes as the state and Los Angeles County on Thursday night issued public health orders closing all non-essential businesses and forbidding gatherings of more than 10 people.
These “Safer at Home” measures are intended to greatly curtail contact among people and therefore slow the spread of the virus so in order to minimize the impact on the health care system.
“Obviously, it’s causing people to make extraordinary sacrifices,” Parris said, but that not taking these steps will most likely result in a worse outcome.
“We’re doing everything we can to help people comply with it. We’re not making this an enforcement priority at all. We’re attempting to be a helping hand as much as possible,” he said.
Food-related businesses are considered essential, including grocery stores, convenience stores, supermarkets and outdoor farmers’ markets.
Restaurants may still serve food and drink, but only for take out or delivery; dining rooms must be closed.
Pharmacies, hardware stores, laundries, banks and infrastructures services such as utilities are also under the heading of essential.
The order does, however, mandate the closure of indoor shopping malls and a large number of retail outlets.
This includes the Antelope Valley Mall, which posted the temporary closure information on its doors and website.
“Nothing is more important to us than the health and well-being of our Antelope Valley Mall family and our local community. We continue to work closely with local, state and federal health officials to maintain a safe environment for our community. We are committed to providing outstanding service to our guests and look forward to welcoming them back soon,” mall management said.
“We are committed to helping flatten the curve, as they say, and slowing the spread of the Coronavirus,” Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer said. “We support the efforts of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the State of California and the CDC to as they make recommendations to keep our community safe and healthy. We encourage our residents to follow the ‘safer at home’ guidelines to maintain social distancing, while at the same time supporting our local restaurants and businesses by ordering take out and delivery options.”
Parris said he believes residents will come together and comply with increased requirements.
“What I’ve seen with people in this community is that when times get difficult, they step up,” he said. “We’ve seen that historically, time after time, and I don’t think this will be any different.”
He said the focus will shift in about a week to economic recovery.
“I’m hopeful. I’m impressed with how well the city is working together, how so many thousands of people are seeking ways to help and the toxic people seem to be not yelling as loud as they normally do,” Parris said.