LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County Public Defender, Ricardo Garcia, announced Thursday that a Los Angeles County deputy public defender from the West Covina branch office died Tuesday, less than ten days after testing positive for COVID-19.
Garcia did not name the individual but did note that the attorney had been self-quarantined at home since May 16 and had tested positive for the virus on May 19.
“Two co-workers who worked with the individual were immediately notified and quarantined upon receipt of the positive test,” Garcia said in a statement released to the media. “The loss of this deputy public defender is a tragedy, and our hearts reach out to family, friends, and the entire public defender’s office who lost a cherished colleague and friend.”
A spokesperson for Garcia’s office told the Los Angeles Blade that eight other staffers from the Public Defenders have also tested positive. The news comes as the court system across California gears up to reopen and ease current restrictions.
The death of the Deputy Public Defender comes on a day that The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) confirmed 48 new deaths and 1,094 new cases of COVID-19 representing an increase of 161 new cases recording positive within a twenty-four hour period for the county. Six deaths were reported by the City of Long Beach. To date, Public Health has identified 49,774 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 2,241 deaths.
In a press conference broadcast on Facebook Live Thursday evening, Los Angeles City Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the first shipment of thousands of N95 masks purchased by the city had arrived. Speaking from the warehouse where the masks are stored until disbursed, the mayor said that the first 100,000 thousand is destined for hospitals and medical services with 10,00 to be set aside for first responders and emergency services personnel.
The deal cut by the city is to acquire 24 million N95 masks, which in turn will be sold at the city’s cost of 79 cents each plus tax to those needing them. Garcetti said that another shipment of 200,000 is due to arrive in June followed by another 500,000 in July. The mayor noted that it is the goal to have monthly delivery of over 1.2 million per month by December.
The medical-grade masks are being produced by Honeywell at the company’s Ontario plant, Garcetti said.
A popular natural attraction in Thousand Oaks, Paradise Falls, will be closed to the public indefinitely beginning Friday after large crowds trashed the area with litter and human waste, KTLA reported. The scenic waterfall, located in Wildwood Regional Park, had reopened for weekend use just two weeks ago.
The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency released a statement that detailed its decision, made Wednesday, closing access to the falls after the area attracted record crowds who left behind multiple truckloads of trash despite trash cans being available throughout the area.
“While Paradise Falls has traditionally been a simple scenic stop on a hike through the park, recent crowds arrived by the hundreds with plans to spend hours at this sensitive spot. This resulted in environmental impacts to the land that is not sustainable,” the statement read.
Trash wasn’t the only problem in the area, though KTLA noted. Officials said people were using the creek as a makeshift toilet, littering the water with human waste, which created sanitation problems. Hikers also tramped the wetland vegetation.
“COSCA has worked diligently to encourage visitors to be respectful of the environment and fellow visitors, and to obey posted rules, but many have not answered these calls,” the statement said.
“The closure will give the area a chance to recover,” officials said.