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LA Mayor Eric Garcetti issues coronavirus message with resources, info

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President Donald Trump may declare a state of national emergency but unfortunately, his credibility and incompetence has been so damaged over the past three years, many Americans are looking for leadership, guidance and help elsewhere as the new coronavirus continues to spread. This is why government, good governance, science and data matter – and in states around the country, governors and mayors have stepped up to serve the people they took an oath to protect. In California, Gov. Newsom has declared a state of emergency and local officials in West Hollywood and other cities have followed suit.

But there are still fundamental disagreements over  what the federal government says and what state health officials and local leaders say – with NAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci being the only reliable source of information willing to contradict Trump appointees.  For instance, the McClatchy news service just reported that the CDC said it sent 69 kits to test for the coronavirus (COVID-19), “enough to test tens of thousands of people for the coronavirus. But Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s health department said earlier on Thursday that kits had arrived to test only 8,227 residents.”

In addition to the hundreds of event cancelations, on Friday morning in Los Angeles, the LA Unified School District decided to close the nation’s second largest school district, though their important meal programs will continue and school lessons will be televised and offered online in an attempt to help families.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti posted a video address about the coronavirus on Facebook with Dr. Anne Rimoin, Director of the UCLA Center for Global and Immigrant Health and Professor of Epidemiology at the Fielding School of Public Health. Garcetti also issued this statement, which we are posting directly:

“Hi,

 

I hear you. I know there’s uncertainty and anxiety right now in our communities about the novel coronavirus outbreak. Everyone’s feeling on edge, and I want to make sure you have everything you need to stay informed, prepare yourself, and take action to help limit the risk of spreading the virus.

 

Here’s an overview of the latest steps the City is taking to prevent the spread of COVID-19, remain vigilant, and keep Los Angeles safe and healthy.

 

First of all, I encourage you to sign up for NotifyLA, our City’s emergency alerts system, which we are using to push out updates about COVID-19 prevention. Please encourage your family and friends to do the same.

 

On Wednesday night, the Governor announced a new California Department of Public Health policy to cancel or postpone all gatherings of 250 people or more, along with other important guidance on protecting public health and stemming the spread of COVID-19.

 

We are implementing statewide guidance in our City policies, in addition to employing strategies to protect our City’s workforce, outlined in a directive I sent to the heads of all City departments this morning. We are also continuing to work alongside the County Department of Public Health and other local, state, and federal partners to further strengthen our response to COVID-19 and empower our families and communities with vital public health and safety information.

 

And we’re collaborating with scientists like Dr. Anne Rimoin, a COVID-19 expert at UCLA, to share what you need to know about the virus and how to protect yourself. Watch our video and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Here are a few key parts of my directive to all City departments:

 

  • Public events:All non-essential public community events or group activities with 50 or more participants –– or that require close contact between vulnerable individuals –– will be postponed or cancelled in order to limit the risk of exposing staff and the public to the virus. This includes all events or conferences on City-owned properties that are anticipated to attract more than 50 people.
  • Entry to city buildings: The City will stagger entry for visitors in public buildings to no more than 50 at a time — including City museums, libraries, parks, pools, and community centers. Transit locations and similar facilities, including LAX and the Port of Los Angeles, as well as all City shelters, are exempt from this requirement at this time. The Los Angeles City Hall complex, including City Hall East, City Hall South, and Van Nuys City Hall, will be temporarily closed to members of the public, except for public meetings of the City Council.
  • Sanitation protocols:Hand-washing and sanitizing stations will be available in City-owned public buildings, and extra steps are being taken to clean facilities regularly and thoroughly.

 

More about what the City is doing:

 

  • Prevention and preparedness: We’re working to get the word out with the latest information about COVID-19, and ways to protect yourself and your family, including practicing social distancing. Learn more from the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
  • Homeless Angelenos:Our Unified Homelessness Response Center (UHRC) is closely monitoring the situation and taking steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among Angelenos experiencing homelessness. The UHRC is coordinating with the L.A. Homeless Services Authority and the L.A. County Department of Public Health to ensure unsheltered Angelenos have information about the virus and resources to protect their health and safety. Homelessness outreach teams and shelter providers are receiving additional training on best practices for addressing a coronavirus outbreak and referring individuals experiencing illness to medical professionals. We’re adding new hygiene stations throughout the city, as well as providing hand sanitizer to homeless Angelenos.
  • Public transportation:Metro, Metrolink, and LADOT are closely monitoring the current situation. Each agency is vigorously cleaning buses, trains, stations, and facilities on a regular basis and will continue to review and update cleaning protocols as needed.

 

Public schools: The L.A. Unified School District Board of Education voted this week to delegate emergency powers to the Superintendent in the event that action needs to be taken swiftly as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. LAUSD is coordinating with and following the guidance of the CDC and the County Department of Public Health should school closures be required at any point. In the meantime, the District has implemented several new policies — including cancelling all large gatherings of staff and/or students, and all off-campus visits by students and staff to public places where crowds may gather. At this time, student competitions are allowed to proceed without spectators.

 

Here are steps you should take:

 

  • Know the symptoms:COVID-19 symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath — and may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Person-to-person spread mainly occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, like the flu. A less common form of transmission can take place from objects or surfaces that become infected.
  • Take precautions:If you are sick, stay home. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Cover your cough or sneeze. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. If you have recently traveled in an area with COVID-19 infections or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 and are showing symptoms, monitor your health and contact your doctor.
  • Plan ahead: Make sure you have extra food, medical supplies, and emergency kits in your home. Talk to your family, friends, and neighbors to develop emergency plans — particularly for children, seniors, and anyone with chronic medical conditions that may make them particularly susceptible to illness. And remember, L.A. City tap water continues to be of the highest quality and is 100-percent safe to drink. LADWP’s treatment processes are specifically designed to protect the public from all viruses and harmful bacteria.

 

Stay informed: Stick with trusted and official sources for accurate and timely updates, including CDC.govPublicHealth.LACounty.gov, and LAMayor.org/Coronavirus. And don’t forget to sign up for NotifyLA, our city’s emergency notification system. For more questions, you can call 211, the County’s hotline, which is available 24/7.

 

Share this information with your family, friends, and colleagues, so we can all do our part to protect our community and our city.

 

This is a moment for preparation, not panic. A moment to be kind and generous and to show the very best of the Angeleno spirit. And I know that each of us will do our part to stay vigilant, stay informed, and help limit the spread of this virus.

 

We will get through this together –– in Los Angeles, we always do.

 

Eric Garcetti

Your Mayor”

 

 

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Coronavirus

White House orders distribution of 400 million free N95 masks

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator; “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks”

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President Joe Biden (Blade file photo/screenshot)

WASHINGTON – As the latest surge of the highly contagious and easily transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to cause a rise in hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated adults and children, the White House announced Wednesday it is making 400 million N95 masks available for free at thousands of locations across the nation.

The plan an admkistartion official said, is to start shipping the nonsurgical masks to pharmacies and community health centers to distribute this week, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile.

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator, said, “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks.”

The N95 masks will be made available to everybody, and recipients will not be prioritized based on vulnerability to Covid, income or other criteria. Inglesby said the administration was “confident that people who want to access them will be able to access them,” but it was not immediately clear how many masks a person could receive at one time.

On January 13, President Joe Biden had announced a plan to have the government distribute 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests free to Americans, along with the N95 masks, as the administration works to fight the spiraling upward spike in coronavirus cases.

The White House website to order free at-home Covid tests went live Tuesday. The website says: “Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.”

A White House official said Wednesday that the distribution of 400 million masks would be the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.

Inglesby told NBC News that the administration was “absolutely preparing for the possibility of additional variants in the future” and that people could expect the government to make N95 masks “more and more available.”

Biden announces free masks, tests to fight omicron:

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Cases increase by nearly 10 times in one month

While hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID

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Graphic courtesy of UCLA/Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

LOS ANGELES – A total of 31,576 new COVID-19 cases were documented on Monday — up ten times the number of cases reported on Dec. 17, 2021, when there were 3,360 new cases recorded the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Monday.

There are  4,564 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, nearly 6 times the number from one month ago when 772 people were hospitalized. The daily positivity rate is 16.5%, more than 8 times the 2% daily positivity rate on December 17th.

Just one week ago, the county surpassed 2 million total COVID-19 cases, with the figure reaching 2,289,045 cases as of Monday.

“On this national holiday where we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we remember his deep commitment to health equity.  As Reverend King memorably said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death,’ ” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Tragically, we have seen this play out in real life and very clearly over the past two years with the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color. From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation,” she added.

“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the health department said in a statement released last week.

As of Friday, more than 80% of all adult ICU beds in the county were occupied.

There are also 27 new deaths due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and 31,576 new positive cases.

The public health department also noted that while the number of children hospitalized with the virus remains low, the number of them admitted to L.A. County hospitals “significantly increased” over the past month, with the largest increase among children younger than 5 years old.

The increase mirrors trends seen nationwide for the age group — the only one not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The county also saw its highest coronavirus death rate in nearly 10 months over this past week, with an average of 40 COVID-19 deaths a day.

“From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation. As we continue to implement strategies – enforcing worker protections through our Health Officer Orders, providing resources needed by many to survive the impact of the pandemic, funding community-based organizations in hard hit areas to serve as trusted public health messengers, and increasing vaccination access in under-sourced neighborhoods – we also need to come together to address the impact that racism, historical disinvestment, and social marginalization have on COVID-19 outcomes,” Ferrer said.

“While these conditions predate the pandemic, without deliberate collective actions to address the root causes of health inequities, we are unlikely to close the gaps we have documented for 2 long years,” she added.

California has recorded more than 7 million coronavirus cases after its fastest accumulation of reported infections in the history of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The unprecedented count, recorded in California’s databases late Monday, comes one week after the state tallied its 6 millionth coronavirus case.

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Coronavirus

Los Angeles County surpasses 2 million COVID cases

While hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID

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Los Angeles Blade file photo

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County health officials are urging residents to postpone nonessential gatherings and avoid some activities – especially those that will include people who are unmasked, unvaccinated or at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

This comes as Los Angeles County recorded a grim milestone Monday as the Department of Public Health reports that the County has now confirmed more than 2 million total cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The Los Angele Times reported early Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles Unified students returned to campus from winter break Tuesday morning amid a record-breaking surge in coronavirus cases.

As they stood in long lines to enter campus, the district’s health-screening system crashed. These conditions, including staffing shortages, student absences, and apprehensive parents and students, put the district’s carefully laid plans to open campuses in the nation’s second-largest school district to the test.

Although some students and parents were anxious amid the Omicron surge, they said they wanted to be back in the classroom. District leaders said strict campus safely precautions are in place, the Times reported.

The surge, which has now created uncertainty in the business community as some restaurants and other retail operations close up due to staffing shortages or out of caution, prompted County Public Health to ask that residents postpone nonessential gatherings just ahead of the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.

Public Health officials are also concerned as LA-based Super Bowl is a mere month away. The recommendation is voluntary and officials have not imposed any new restrictions that could put any events in jeopardy.

The latest Public Health data shows vaccines are still the best way to protect against the coronavirus. In L.A. County cases have continued to increase rapidly across all groups however at significantly lower levels for vaccinated individuals. For the week ending December 25th, case rates were much higher for those unvaccinated. There were 991 new cases per 100,000 unvaccinated; 588 cases per 100,000 fully vaccinated without boosters; and 254 cases per 100,000 fully vaccinated with boosters.

The vaccine also continues to provide very strong protection against hospitalization and death. One way to evaluate the protection offered by vaccines is rate ratios. These ratios compare rates of an outcome in unvaccinated people with rates of the same outcome in fully vaccinated people. The higher the rate ratio, the more protective the vaccine is against the outcome.

The hospital rate ratio was 9 when comparing those unvaccinated vs those fully vaccinated without boosters, meaning a 9-fold higher rate of hospitalization for the unvaccinated compared to this protected group. More markedly, the hospital rate ratio was 38 when comparing the unvaccinated vs fully vaccinated with boosters, meaning those fully vaccinated and boosted were 38 times less likely to be hospitalized than those unvaccinated.

“With surging transmission and rapidly rising cases and hospitalizations, our already understaffed health care providers are under enormous strain as they try to care for so many COVID infected people,” Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Health Director said.

About 14% of the patients with COVID-19 were in the ICU, and 7% were on a ventilator.

“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the LA County Public Health Department said in a news release.

“However, at the moment, vaccinations alone are not sufficient to get us back to slowing the spread.  We all need to exercise more caution in the weeks ahead.  One effective strategy for reducing transmission is to wear a high-quality mask whenever around non-household members,” Ferrer said.

“Given the dominance of the highly infectious Omicron variant, well-fitting masks provide a great layer of protection to both the wearer and all those nearby. It is also time to pause those non-essential activities where people are unmasked and in close contact with others. The reality is that parties and events, especially those indoors, make it easy for the virus to spread. Limiting our time with others to those more essential work or school activities is a prudent action for us to take when-ever possible until the surge subsides,” she added.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and are recommended for everyone 5 years old and older to help protect against COVID-19. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status. Appointments are not needed at all Public Health vaccination sites and many community sites where first, second, and third doses are available. 

To find a vaccination site near you, or to make an appointment, please visit:

www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) or www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). 

If you need assistance, you can also call 1-833-540-0473 for help: 

  • Finding an appointment
  • Connect to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or 
  • Schedule a home visit if you are homebound. 

For more information regarding COVID-19 in LA County you can also visit the Public Health website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov 

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