LOS ANGELES COUNTY (KTLA) — Los Angeles County declared a local health emergency Wednesday during a news conference in which officials confirmed six new cases of coronavirus.
“We’ve confirmed these cases as of last night with positive lab results,” Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
All six cases are linked to an “assumed known exposure source,” she said. All of the patients either had a travel history to an area with an outbreak, were exposed to travelers from an area with an outbreak, or had close contact with a confirmed case.
No further details were given on the patients who tested positive.
Declaring a local health emergency will help mobilize needed resources and partnerships, support preparedness efforts and enhance continuity operations, “all in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said.
The declaration will also enhance the county’s ability to seek future reimbursement from state and federal governments should funding become available.
The public was encouraged to incorporate more public distancing practices. Individuals should stay home if they are sick. “Sick people make other people sick,” she said.
Washing hands for 20 seconds, covering coughs and keeping 6 feet distance from people you don’t know were also recommended.
Ferrer pointed out that taking precautions can help slow the spread of the virus. “As of today we still don’t have known cases of community transmission,” she said.
In addition to personal preparation, Ferrer asked the public to ready their home with the supplies they would need in a natural disaster situation.
Plans should also be made for how to handle the possibility of school, business or work closures.
The public should be on guard for scam artists attempting to make a profit on the situation by selling unproven products.
“There are no specific medication treatments or vaccinations approved,” Ferrer said.
Although flu shots do not prevent a person from contracting the virus, Ferrer asked people to get them in order to help reduce stress on the health care system.
The news comes a day after county health officials confirmed Kaiser Permanente was already treating one coronavirus patient.
The patient was in self-isolation and being treated on an outpatient basis, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Information on new coronavirus cases and how to protect yourself against the virus can be found on publichealth.lacounty.gov.