LocationAlhambra , CA
Los Angeles County Officials announced Wednesday that six new cases of coronavirus, all linked to travel, have been identified and also said that they are imposing local emergency declarations in an effort to get ahead of any health crisis.
The cities of Los Angeles, Pasadena and Long Beach are announcing their own declarations of health emergencies Wednesday to also access increased support should they need it. Neither Pasadena nor Long Beach have cases at this time, their directors of Public Health said.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health sent a media advisory late Tuesday afternoon saying, they will “make major announcements regarding the novel coronavirus,” and would outline specific actions being taken by public health offices and offer guidance for preparation and protection to prevent the spread of the virus.
The announcement comes at the heels of several deaths in Washington state and more cases detected around the country – many in Washington and one in North Carolina connected with a nursing home in King County, Wash. where the deaths have occurred.
The Los Angeles Times just reported one death in California, in Placer County, outside of Sacramento. The person was an “elderly adult with underlying health conditions,” and was the second confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county, according to the Placer County Health Department.
At the press conference was Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair Kathryn Barger, First District Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, Fourth District Supervisor Janice Hahn, City of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Director of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Barbara Ferrer, Director of Pasadena’s Public Health Department Ying-Ying Goh, City of Long Beach Health Officer Anissa Davis and other guests.
Each speaker stressed the importance of preparation, vigilant protection by hand washing and some social distancing, and that, at the moment, there are no cases of the virus through community transmission in the county.
“The last thing we want to do is spread more fear in our communities. Fear will not drive our response,” Supervisor Solis said.
Solis also denounced the racism against Asian communities, the loss of roughly 60% of revenue in some Asian-owned businesses and the increase of stress this discrimination has caused.
Barger, Solis and Ferrer all said the County has taken action and preparation, by testing, educating and reinforcing resources, and receiving tests while coordinating with departments and community leaders. The county is also creating backup plans in case there is a rapid increase of cases.
Director of Los Angeles Department of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said the county and cities are acknowledging the increasing likelihood of community transmission and the Department of Public Health has received CDC testing kits, with more on the way.
But, Ferrer stressed, “… as of today, we still don’t have known cases of community transmission.”
Ten highly sophisticated laboratories are doing the testing of samples collected from health professionals. At this time, there is not a home testing kit.
The health department has completed its investigations of the L.A. County cases, and there is a known travel link to each case. The first one detected at LAX in January is now recovered, Ferrer announced, and the person is a resident of Wuhan, China where the outbreak originated.
Of the six, three were traveling together through northern Italy, two are family with close contact, live in L.A. County and exposed to a member who doesn’t live here but has also tested positive, and one has a job that exposes them to travelers that have a high likelihood of being positive.
One of those cases is hospitalized and the other five are in isolation at their homes being closely monitored by the Department of Public Health.
Ultimately, the county and cities are trying to minimize the possibility of community spread.
“Stay home if your sick – sick people make other people sick,” Ferrer said.
Wash your hands frequently. Get a flu shot. Practice social distancing – don’t stand near people you don’t know and try not to shake hands or hug. Ferrer is also suggesting employers modify their leave policies, so employees don’t need a doctor’s note; the stress of the health care system is increased just for those who need to be excused for an absence.
Ferrer also asked families to prepare themselves in the case there is a larger social distancing response in the future, like their children’s school closes.
There is no need to have more than the average emergency preparedness kit for earthquakes, fires, floods or mudslides, she says, but prepare supplies.
Many publications, like the L.A. Times, have reported people running to large warehouse stores for supplies but that is probably overkill at this time.
When taking questions at the end of the conference, Ferrer said the county has the ability to test hundreds of people and does not anticipate shortages of tests. However, they are developing another way to test, should a rapid discovery of cases occur in the United States and there is a shortage of the CDC ones. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also working with private companies to develop tests.
Echoing Garcetti in saying there is no way to predict the future of this new virus, Ferrer says, “We would love to have to crystal ball and be able to tell you where it’s going and who’s going to get it.[…] This is a call for preparedness. Know what you might do if we see an explosion of cases.”
Alhambra Unified School District Superintendent Denise Jaramillo says that AUSD has been working with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health since January.
“[The Public Health Department] has been relentless in their support of our schools, taking our calls, supporting our community meetings, and providing us with factual information and guidance to help us navigate this ever changing challenge,” Jaramillo says.
AUSD supports the officials’ declaration of a local health emergency to enhance resources for students’ protections, and condemn any and all discrimination.
The morning press briefing was held on the steps of the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration in downtown Los Angeles and was live streamed on Facebook.
For more information on the coronavirus from the L.A. County Department of Public Health, go here.
Our previous reporting:
For more information from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.
Updated at 9:30 p.m. on March 4 to include comments by Alhambra Unified School District Superintendent Denise Jaramillo.