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Confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported in the Antelope Valley jumped by 21 Wednesday to 138 people, according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department.

The latest information shows 73 cases in Lancaster and 65 in Palmdale, as well as a handful in surrounding unincorporated communities.

These are a small portion of the 7,530 cases reported countywide by officials Wednesday, with 620 new cases reported since Tuesday.

The county’s mortality rate continued to creep upward, to 2.6%, as an additional 29 deaths were reported, bringing the county total to 198, officials said.

Of the most recent deaths, 17 were in people ages 65 or older and all but one with underlying health conditions; seven were in people ages 41 to 65, five of those with underlying health conditions; and one was a person age 18 to 40.

There was no information on the remaining four people, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.

Of the more than 7,500 who have tested positive for the virus, 1,714 people, or 23%, have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

Of the 1,033 currently hospitalized, 44% are older than age 65, and 17% are younger than 45%, “a stark reminder that everyone can not only become positive for COVID-19, but actually can become ill enough to require a hospitalization,” Ferrer said.

Testing capacity is increasing, although it has not yet reached the 10,000 people per day goal. With increased testing comes increased numbers of reported cases, officials said.

As of Tuesday, 36,500 people countywide have been tested, with 15% reporting positive results.

Ferrer cautioned that there is a lag time in reporting as testing increases, as the numbers reported are for the results, which take a few days.

Testing is still limited to those who are showing symptoms of COVID-19, is by appointment-only and only for eligible patients.

Visit to register for testing in Lancaster or Palmdale.

For those without computer access, call the Los Angeles County information number at 211 and tell the community resource officer that you need to register for testing.

Ferrer highlighted the dedication of health care workers during this crisis, who are themselves at great risk of contracting the virus.

“They’re the front line of the pandemic and we all owe them an enormous debt of gratitude,” she said.

Public health officials have documented 324 health care workers who have tested positive for COVID-19, and two have died, she said.

Of these, 58% work in hospitals, 16% work in outpatient medical facilities and 6% are emergency medical services.

Nurses are the category of health care workers most likely to test positive, followed by physicians, emergency medical services, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, Ferrer said.

“To me, the words ‘thank you’ don’t really convey the gratitude I feel to all of the front line health care workers,” she said. “You’re heroes, and we appreciate your commitment to continuing to take excellent care of all of us, while we know you’re facing the impossible task of juggling caring for your families while showing up every single day on the front lines.”

As of Wednesday, there were a reported 265 confirmed cases in residents and six in non-residents, according to Kern County Public Health Services Department officials.

Two residents have died due to the virus, officials said, a tally that has not changed since April 3.

The majority of the county’s cases are in the most heavily populated areas in and around Bakersfield.

Six cases have been reported in the desert region on the county’s eastern side, which includes the communities of Mojave, California City and Ridgecrest.

Additionally, eight have been reported in the mountains, which includes Tehachapi and extends to Rosamond on the southern border.

More specific locations other than region are not provided by officials.

Similar to the statistics in Los Angeles County, the vast majority of those who have tested positive for the virus are between 18 to 64; only 38 of the 265 cases reported Monday were in people age 65 and older and only 10 were below the age of 18.

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