Two people in Manhattan Beach are among LA County's 32 confirmed cases suffering from the novel coronavirus according to a statement from the city released late Thursday.
One of those individuals spoke to a member of city staff late Wednesday, saying they had tested positive through the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and that they, and another infected person, were self-quarantined. The two individuals had been traveling overseas together with a larger group when they became ill, according to the release.
The individual has been separated from family for the past 23 days. It is not clear if the two infected individuals are related.
"The city had no idea," said Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery by phone on Thursday. "We were completely blindsided by it."
Montgomery said the city reached out to the county health department to ask why they were not notified when cases were confirmed. Manhattan Beach was told, he said, that due to HIPAA and state and federal privacy laws, local agencies are only notified if there is known public exposure, if an event needs to be cancelled or a facility closed.
The two confirmed cases did not meet this criteria. But Montgomery thinks that needs to change.
"Our current LA County Department of Health is hindering as opposed to helping communities be aware that someone has tested positively in that community," Montgomery said. "For the greater good of that community, we should be notified when anyone has tested positively for the virus."
Montgomery, and many others in the South Bay, learned of a potential Manhattan Beach COVID-19 case from a morning newscast.
Christina Pascucci of KTLA reported Thursday, March 12 that she personally knew a man who had tested positive for COVID-19 on March 2. It is unclear whether it is the same man who reported his and one other case of the diagnosis to the city on Wednesday, March 11.
The man sent her text messages, Pascucci said in a phone conversation with Southern California News Group, confirming that he and one other person contracted COVID-19 during a trip to Italy with 12 others, nine of whom also live in Southern California.
"He told me they all self-quarantined in Manhattan Beach," Pascucci said.
The group returned to the U.S. on March 1, she said of the text messages, and the man has not been in physical contact with anyone, including his children, since Feb. 20. They did not make any stops between the airport arrival, to one of the travelers' homes and to their own self-quarantines.
The man was first tested at a small clinic in Pacoima, Pascucci said of the texts, and a second time at a larger clinic in Downtown L.A. After quarantining himself at home, his symptoms worsened and he went to a hospital in Torrance, she added per the texts.
County health officials have been monitoring the case and calling the affected man and the other patient twice a day, the man told her via text messages.
—Lisa Jacobs contributed