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‘Safer at Home’ Order Extended to May 15; “Curve Flattens” but 1-in-4 Deaths Are in Institutional Settings

A screen capture of the Facebook Live online streaming of the L.A. County daily press briefing, on April 10, 2020. Director of LACDPH Barbara Ferrer demonstrates how to wear and remove a cloth face covering.

Location

Alhambra , CA

Los Angeles County’s press briefing brought a few big announcements, including an extension of the “Safer at Home” order and a tightening of the Health Officer Order on the wearing of masks in essential businesses. There was also  a dramatic increase in cases and deaths in institutional settings.

The “Safer at Home” Health Officer Order was issued at March 16 and updated on March 21 to legally mandate all residents to stay home “except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors” and close all nonessential businesses.

Today, April 10, the county announced an update to the order – and an extension to Friday, May 15, from the previous expiration of April 19.

County officials are encouraged and expressed  gratitude that the county has been successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19.

There are, however, many positive cases that have not been diagnosed, and unfortunately,  LA County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said people will still die. This slowed but continuous spread is why the county is extending the time frame and  adding other elements to the orders.

The amendment requires action from two groups of people: essential business owners, and those accessing essential businesses, or, everyone else, and will be effective as of Wednesday.

If you’re an essential business owner, you are now required to:

  • Provide your employees with cloth face coverings
  • Provide your employees with a plan of how they are to maintain physical distancing of six or more feet, and cleaning requirements
  • Post this plan in a visible place of your business for all to see

If you’re accessing essential services, you are required to wear a cloth face covering.

While noting that the curve seemed to be flattening, the mortality rate in the county is climbing – up to 2.9% – and institutional settings are quickly becoming a hotbed for COVID-19. These include correctional facilities, nursing homes, shelters and other locations of large congregate numbers living in close proximity.

The number of cases and deaths has skyrocketed in these congregate settings. As of today, there are 159 institutions under investigation for having positive cases, with a total of 1,062 cases; 506 among residents and 556 among staff.

There have been 67 deaths at these settings or 28% of the total county-wide deaths. More than one in four people who have died of COVID-19-related illness in Los Angeles have been in a congregate setting.

Of the 86 locations that have been named, there is one in the West SGV – the Alhambra Healthcare & Wellness Centre, LP, on Garfield near Mission. The LACDPH site does not list how many cases there are at the center but it is marked as an “outbreak” location, which means it has at least three positive cases, or one confirmed and two presumed positive cases, among the residents, not including staff.

In proximity to the West SGV is the Huntington Healthcare Center in El Sereno, which is also marked as an outbreak location.

The Department of Public Health stresses that this list does not indicate any neglect on the part of the operators of the care facilities, and notes that most of the residents are in high-risk categories, living in close proximity and have frequent contact with others, making such settings a “perfect storm” for outbreaks like COVID-19.

While some communities are being hit hard with COVID-19, social distancing is working overall. The county predicted that if no public interventions had been taken – hand washing, physical distance of over six feet and staying inside, 96% of the county would have been exposed to COVID-19 by April 1.

At this time, they predict that only 30% will be exposed, but the county still wants that number to diminish. The goal is less than 10% of the total population, so LACDPH is enforcing a stricter Health Officer Order with the addition of required cloth face coverings and extending the “Safer at Home” time frame.

Los Angeles County COVID-19 Hospital Demand Modeling Projections’ infographic showing what could happen if physical distancing measures changed, via L.A. County Health Services.

During the briefing, Ferrer demonstrated the safest way to remove and store your mask:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands
  • Remove the mask by the ties, elastics or edges and do not touch the inside
  • Fold the mask in half so the inside is touching itself and the outside is still exposed
  • Place the mask in a paper bag – it breathes better than a plastic bag – and fold the bag closed
  • Wash or sanitize your hands

To put on your mask:

  • Wash or sanitize your hands
  • Unfold the mask, not touching the inside
  • Put on the mask
  • Wash or sanitize your hands

To date, there are 8430 total cases and 241 deaths. In the last 24 hours there have been 475 cases and 18 deaths. The numbers in the West SGV are growing and Alhambra has 27 cases.


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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health page.

For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.

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