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California

Coronavirus cases in L.A. County rise to 11: Here is what you need to know

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Los Angeles County now has 11 coronavirus cases, with the announcement of four new cases Thursday.

A breakdown

• Seven cases involve a group of travelers who visited northern Italy, where coronavirus has cause widespread outbreaks.

• Two are connected to close contact to a coronavirus patient.

• One is a Los Angeles International Airport worker.

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• One is a patient who lived in Wuhan, China.

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How it’s spreading

Even with these new cases, testing still hasn’t shown any community spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, officials said.

In the case of the LAX worker, officials have tested others who came in contact with him and have not found any more cases so far.

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This is a key detail because other parts of California and the nation have already seen new cases arise through community spread.

San Francisco, for example, announced its first two cases. The patients are not related to each other and have no travel history to areas where the coronavirus has appeared, officials said.

“We do not know at this point how they were exposed to the virus, which suggests it is spreading in the community,” Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s director of health, said in a statement.

Santa Clara and Solano counties also have reported community spread cases.

Impacts

Los Angeles County and the cities of Pasadena and Long Beach declared health emergencies Wednesday. An emergency declaration gives cities and counties the ability to ask the state or other counties for aid if their local resources are exhausted. The declarations have been preparation-based, not because an outbreak currently exists, officials say.

L.A. County will increase its capacity for virus testing at its public health laboratory, officials said. Daily public radio briefings will be held, and health officials will post new guidelines for schools and colleges. In addition, “technical assistance teams” will be sent over the next week to inspect temporary housing facilities, including homeless shelters.

Coronavirus concerns have also resulted in conferences and other professional gatherings being canceled and some employees working from home.

It also became an issue in the Robert Durst murder trial just underway in L.A. County Superior Court.

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“I’d like you to all stay healthy,” Judge Mark E. Windham told the 12 jurors and 11 alternates chosen for the case. He advised jurors to wash their hands “briskly and often,” cover their coughs and sneezes with tissue and use provided hand sanitizer.

“You must stay home if you are sick,” Windham said.

One juror lifted a hand sanitizer bottle on the railing of the jury box.

“Call us when you are sick,” Windham added.

Windham made the announcement during the prosecution’s opening statements Thursday afternoon.


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