LANCASTER — Reports of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the Antelope Valley on Monday may have been an error.
For the first time, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health released a listing of locations of the confirmed cases so far, while stressing that no one area was any safer than another.
The listing, released late Monday afternoon, showed one case in Lancaster. No details were provided other than the geographic location of each of the confirmed cases.
However, the most recent list, showing 144 confirmed cases in Los Angeles County, no longer showed a case in Lancaster when it was released late Tuesday afternoon.
Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health did not respond to questions regarding the changed status by deadline, Tuesday.
In the 24 hours between the two lists being made public, it was unclear where the alleged Lancaster patient was tested or treated.
Antelope Valley Hospital officials said earlier Tuesday, the facility has not had anybody test positive for COVID-19.
As of Monday, “This patient is not housed at Palmdale Regional,” according to Palmdale Regional Medical Center Spokeswoman Julie Montague.
Dr. Jonathan Truong, an infectious disease specialist who has been brought on as a deputy mayor to advise the city of Lancaster, said Tuesday morning that it did not appear the patient was treated locally.
“We heard of one case in Lancaster, but it is not in any of our hospitals,” he said during Lancaster’s virtual town hall meeting, Tuesday. “It is not at AV Hospital, it is not at Palmdale Regional and it is not at our Kaiser facilities. So I believe it is someone that is not in our system that we know of immediately.
Truong said if a patient lives in Lancaster and has a Lancaster ZIP code but is admitted elsewhere, it could bounce back to the city.
“I reached out to my colleagues in infectious disease in the community and they all said they have not seen or been consulted on to see a COVID-19 patient,” he said.
Truong said it takes about five days to get Coronavirus test results back at Palmdale Regional Medical Center and five to seven days at Antelope Valley Hospital.
“L.A. County Department of Health is overwhelmed,” he said. “They cannot help us very much.”
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said they are seeing a significant increase in cases and evidence of community spread, as more testing occurs.
“We are implementing more social distancing requirements and we expect everyone to do their part,” she said.
It is unlikely the Antelope Valley will remain clear of COVID-19 cases, as testing for the virus still lags.
“Our evidence today suggests that there are people in every community who are positive (for COVID-19),” Ferrer said Tuesday. “They don’t know they’re positive and we don’t know they’re positive. We may not have enough testing for a very long time for every single person to get tested.”
She said in the absence of that, what people have to assume is that there are others in the community that don’t know they are positive and have the capacity to infect others.
“That’s why we ask for all the social distancing,” Ferrer said.
The official count provided by the Department of Public Health also may lag behind reports from commercial laboratories, information on positive tests that may be released before it is reported to the Department she said.
The official numbers of verified, laboratory-confirmed cases are those reported on the Department’s website.
In light of changing conditions and recommendations, Palmdale Regional Medical Center, on Tuesday, suspended allowing visitors to see patients, with limited critical exceptions.
Valley Press Staff Writer Julie Drake contributed to this report.