Coronavirus: LA County health officials preparing for outbreak, urge public to not panic

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County may have seen just one case of coronavirus, but it is prepping for an outbreak nonetheless.

The county began testing for the disease last Thursday.

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"We have testing capacity here in L.A. County. We are one of the places in the United States that has its own lab," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of Los Angeles County Public Health.

Ferrer says even though there have been no signs of any community transmission inside the county, people need to prepare for possibly being restricted to their homes for days on end if a major outbreak hits.

Schools could be shutdown. Even businesses are being warned that they may have to close.

"If the source of exposure was in your office building, we may need to ask you to send everybody home while we ascertain how bad the exposures were," she said.

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Health officials and county leaders are asking residents to keep their fears in check, pointing out that while COVID-19 is new and has no vaccine, it still pales in comparison to the flu.

"I tell people 'do not panic.' When you look at the death rate for influenza -- far greater than coronavirus. I think what has created the hysteria is the fear of the unknown," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger.

"Flu, influenza in the United States has already caused 18,000 deaths and infected more than 35 million people. And I think we need to remember that," said Ferrer.

Health officials say Coronavirus in Los Angeles County is just a matter of time.

"Coronavirus will be here. It's probably here already," said Ferrer.
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