los angeles county sheriff's department car
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Car. Photo by John Schreiber.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva Thursday said three department employees and other first responders were “in the proximity” of a woman whose death was the first confirmed fatality from coronavirus in the county.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department later acknowledged it had personnel also exposed to the patient, and that those individuals are “currently symptom-free and being reviewed regularly for any developing symptoms.”

The woman, in her 60s, lived elsewhere but was visiting friends in the Los Angeles area. She died on Wednesday.

“We are deeply saddened by the untimely passing of Los Angeles County’s first confirmed victim of the COVID-19 virus, and our thoughts are with the decedent’s loved ones and family in the aftermath of this tragic event,” Villanueva said in a statement.

“Like much of the world, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is adapting to the challenges caused by the recent outbreak of COVID-19. On March 12, 2020, we were made aware that three LASD personnel and other first responders were in the proximity of a COVID-19 victim who had since expired during a call for service on March 9, 2020,” Villanueva said.

“As we received the potential exposure notification two days after the incident, we immediately made contact with the involved department members. Out of an abundance of caution, and even though our personnel were asymptomatic, they were sent home to follow self-quarantine procedures as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” he continued.

“We are working with our Department of Public Health partners to assess if COVID-19 testing of department personnel is required. We are monitoring our personnel for signs and symptoms of flu and distributed personal protection equipment,” Villanueva said. “We are encouraging personnel and the public to stay at home if they feel ill. We are working closely with community members and healthcare partners to ensure the safety of all our residents.”

The woman was treated at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center, which released a statement Thursday.

“The patient presented to the hospital’s Emergency Department by ambulance in full cardiac arrest and staff immediately provided lifesaving care to stabilize her condition,” hospital officials said. “Upon arrival of the patient’s family member, who disclosed the patient’s travel status, and evaluation of the patient’s symptoms, staff followed all infection control protocols set forth by LACDPH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The patient was immediately placed in isolation and LACDPH was notified of the potential case. With approval from LACDPH, samples were submitted to the public health lab for COVID-19 testing. Unfortunately, the patient died shortly after admission due to complications from their illness.

“Our highly trained staff followed all appropriate infection control protocols and took every precaution in caring for this patient, who tragically succumbed to their complications,” said Dr. Daniel Gluckstein, director of Infectious Disease at PVHMC.

“… The hospital has identified all staff who came into contact with the patient while providing care and is following all LACDPH guidelines regarding healthcare worker exposure.

“We understand people are feeling anxious about potential exposure to coronavirus, but we want to reassure our patients and their families that the risk of exposure from this case is low. PVHMC remains a safe, high-quality facility to seek medical care.”

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