LANCASTER — The reported death of a youth in Lancaster this week is under further investigation as there may have been more than one diagnosis, including COVID-19, public health officials said Wednesday.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles County Public Health Department officials said an individual under the age of 18 in Lancaster had died from COVID-19. However, under further investigation, officials walked back the determination that the virus caused the death.
The county has asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to complete an investigation into the death to determine if COVID-19 was the cause, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Without giving specifics to the individual case, in the interest of protecting privacy, Ferrer said a patient may receive one diagnosis when first at the hospital, but the virus could also be a factor discovered later.
The death made national news as this new virus was thought to be of less danger to young people, with seniors facing the greater risk of a severe case and possibly death.
The youth’s death is no longer reported as part of the overall COVID-19 tally for the county.
The county death toll continues to rise, however, with three more reported Wednesday by public health officials, bringing the county total to 13.
Of the most recent reported deaths, all three were over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions, officials said.
Wednesday’s report saw 138 new cases reported countywide, bringing the total to 799. This includes 28 cases in Long Beach and seven in Pasadena, cities with their own public health departments.
Lancaster now has 13 confirmed cases reported and Palmdale remains at two, according to information released by the Los Angeles County Public Health Department Wednesday.
Of the patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, 160 have been hospitalized at some point, or 20% of the confirmed cases.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 44 people countywide were currently hospitalized with the virus, and 77% of these patients were in intensive care, Ferrer said. Of those in intensive care, 60% are over the age of 60.
“The people who are hospitalized are often very sick and they need to use intensive services in our hospitals,” she said.
About 1% of those diagnosed with the virus have died in Los Angeles County, Ferrer said, while nationwide that figure is about 1.5%.
“This is a higher rate than what we experience annually for influenza,” she said.
As of Tuesday, more than 6,300 people were tested in the county, with about 11% of the tests positive for COVID-19.
“While we’re not seeing the same rate of acceleration in cases as New York City, this does not mean that we won’t see many more cases and that we won’t in fact experience an acceleration once testing capacity increases,” Ferrer said.
The county still remains limited in the number of testing kits available and the ability to return results quickly, she said.
Those residents who have confirmed cases, are awaiting test results or who are presumed to be positive based on medical advice but without a test are required to isolate themselves from others for seven days, with three days free of fever.
People who have been in close contact with someone who is positive for COVID-19 are required to quarantine themselves for a full 14 days, the virus incubation period.
“We’re asking every single resident in L.A. County to be prepared to isolate and/or to quarantine,” Ferrer said. “That means to have your plans in place, because when you’re quarantined or isolated, you can not go to the grocery store, you can not go to the pharmacy. We ask that you have plans in place, that you ask for help if you need help from others, your friends, your neighbors, your family.”
Also on Wednesday, Kern County reported 15 confirmed cases among its residents, but none have been reported in the mountains or deserts on the eastern side of the county. This includes the communities of Rosamond, Mojave, California City and Tehachapi.