LocationAlhambra , CA
Much has happened since we reported on Los Angeles County’s first six cases and California’s first death on March 4. The county of Los Angeles now has 32 cases including the four reported by Long Beach and one by Pasadena, including those who have recovered and the one death that was announced Wednesday.
The woman who died was in her 60s and had traveled extensively, including to South Korea. She was not a resident of Los Angeles County, but was visiting family in Walnut, in eastern L.A. County. She was in “full cardiac arrest,” when first responders – five L.A. County Fire Department personnel and three Sheriff’s Deputies – transported her to Pomona Valley Hospital where she was pronounced dead. The hospital followed all CDC and public health protocols, it said in their press release.
Those eight first responders are now in isolation, according to L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, but are asymptomatic at this time. The department emailed its own media advisory Thursday afternoon.
After the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s (LACDPH) inquiries, community transmission is suspected in a handful of cases. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the LACDPH, has been announcing for the last few days that as testing ramps up the county will see an uptick in the numbers of cases.
On Thursday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, City of Los Angeles and L.A. County Department of Public Health held a special press briefing to address the latest coronavirus guidances. The conference was a reminder that now is the time that social distancing is to be practiced, not just suggested.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the briefing at the downtown Hall of Administration. “Coronavirus is here.” Garcetti said then followed up urging residents to show kindness to each other.
He said we all know someone who isn’t taking the outbreak seriously, but we all know people with compromised immune systems or pregnant women or elderly and said, “it’s not just about you,” with the greater idea being it is all of our responsibility not to spread it to the vulnerable.
Ferrer echoed his remarks during the Q&A with reporters, saying if you are exposed or infected with mild symptoms, someone around you might be within a high-risk group and they could get hit hard with COVID-19. She summed it up by making the point on where we are now, “when you don’t have vaccination, you have social distancing.”
The way we can protect the greater health of all is to protect those who are the most vulnerable. Check on your elderly neighbors and help them understand the technology and terminology of COVID-19.
“The numbers will go up as more people are tested and more virus is circulating,” Ferrer said.
Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo and Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Austin Beutner said that for now, it’s appropriate for both school systems to remain open, but with modifications to their operations.
There have been no coronavirus-related cases tied to any school in Los Angeles County.
L.A. County is hoping not to cancel school but is preparing for it. There would be three PBS channels dedicated to different levels of learning. Because, as Beutner said, not every student has internet access.
Another reason officials are taking the decision to closes schools seriously and at a measured movement is that many students receive food, medical aid and social services through public schools, according to Duardo.
The county is putting plans into place for each school and working on providing pre-packaged meals if a school does close.
The San Gabriel Valley is girding itself for the coronavirus encroachment.
the Alhambra Unified School District is doing what the county is suggesting, by cancelling or limiting community gathering, traveling and events.
Alhambra Source called Ramona Convent Secondary School in Alhambra for an update on their situation. Principal Mary Mansell said, “We are prepared,” and that they are following all CDC and LACDPH recommendations and guidelines, in addition to the L.A. Archdiocese’s guidelines. Ramona is prepared to teach remotely should the school have to close. Mansell said she watches the L.A. County Department of Health’s daily lunchtime press briefing.
East Los Angeles College, under the jurisdiction of L.A. Community College District, is open per normal conditions through Saturday. By Monday, March 16, students will receive info about their classes, most of which will be online beginning March 18. Classes will be cancelled Monday and Tuesday, March 16 and 17, for mandatory faculty training. They post updates to the district status here.
Pasadena City College has their “plan for pandemic preparedness.” On March 10, they announced that by Wednesday, March 18, most in-person classes will be remote if possible. Events of 100 or more people are cancelled. The college is open. See their updates here.
Other points of interest in L.A. City and County’s press conference included economic impact, drive-through testing and banning of large groups.
The SGV is feeling the effects of people avoiding Chinese restaurants, and many are struggling.
At the press briefing, Ferrer reminded the public, “this is not the time for racism. [Coronavirus] does not affect one ethnicity or race more than others.”
The county is looking into ways to aid those who are losing income from the outbreak. “Clearly people will need our help. Some people have two or three jobs; staying home is impossible,” L.A. City Council President Nury Martinez said.
Ferrer said Los Angeles is in the process of applying for drive-through testing. The county has to prove that it can safely administer the tests, “it’s not like filling out a piece of paper.”
The county will ban large groups of 250 people or more, or those that cannot provide space for social distancing, in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidance. The city of L.A. will ban gathering of 50 or more people on public property, public events and is planning for regulation of numbers of people in government buildings.
The overall message of the day: Be good. Help people. Reach out to your neighbors. Prepare but don’t panic.
There are many terms related to coronavirus floating around. In Los Angeles County, the following terms are defined as follows:
Social distancing: Varying degrees of separating you and your family from others. At the moment, LACDPH is recommending aggressive social distancing. Cancel non-essential travel, stay six or more feet from others in public, avoid crowds (their example is a group of people larger than a classroom), and take measures to protect those who are at risk of developing severe symptoms should they become infected.
Quarantine: The 14-day period of self-isolation, as per instructed by the CDC and LACDPH, to monitor yourself for respiratory or flu-like symptoms. You are to remove yourself from public, and not have physical contact with others. You quarantine after either 1. Coming into contact with a person positive for COVID-19, or 2. Developing symptoms and are waiting to be tested or for the results of a test.
Isolation: The period of total isolation from the outside world, aside from department of health officials and medical professionals and those giving care. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are in isolation and are barred from being in the community.
Confirmed case: The department of public health, or one of two private labs currently able to test have tested samples collected by a health care provider, and confirmed they are positive for COVID-19.
The L.A. County numbers are of those who were diagnosed in the county, and not necessarily residents. For example, the first case was at LAX of a traveler who lives in China but is counted in the county numbers. Regardless of the health status of a case – being treated, recovered or deceased – the number will continue to be tallied with no subtractions.
Here are some links we think are worth reading:
You’re sick. What do you do to stop the spread? Call a doctor, don’t go in to a health care facility; you don’t want to further spread any kind of sickness, The CDC has guidelines for those in isolation.
Buzzfeed News has an interesting read for those who are preparing for the day they will have to stay in their homes. Tips on the kind of activities to do or foods to eat can be found here. If you like to have a kit ready, gather your health records and have enough food for two weeks – but not more than you need.
Speaking of buying more than you need, stop panic buying toilet paper and other supplies, says NerdWallet. They have tips on how to smartly stock up without feeding into the fear. You might be stuck inside for a few weeks but there’s no indication the lights will shut off or the water will run dry.
Previous reporting from Alhambra Source:
For more information from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.