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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

L.A. County on track to bring back mandatory indoor masking

If LA county stays in CDC designated High Community Level for 2 consecutive weeks officials would implement a universal indoor masking

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health indicated that if the upward trend in coronavirus numbers continues, due to the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants coupled with increased community spread, officials may order a return to indoor masks.

On Friday, Public Health said that while the county currently remains at the CDC designated COVID-19 Medium Community Level. There are increasing concerns about the impact of new Omicron sub-variants on transmission and hospitalizations that could result in the County moving into the High Community Level designation sometime later this summer.

Barbara Ferrer, Director of LA County Public Health expressed concern and cautioned Angelenos as the region prepares for the July 4th holiday weekend.

“Since July 4 is right around the corner and many of us are looking forward to celebrating Independence Day with family and friends, it is important to remember that many of our loved ones may be older adults, or have serious underlying health conditions, or not yet been vaccinated and boosted,” Ferrer said.

“Given the rising number of COVID cases and hospitalizations, and the increased circulation of the more infectious BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, it is extra important to take steps that reduce the risk of transmission especially over the long holiday weekend; this helps us protect ourselves, our families, and our community,” She continued adding, “With a little planning, you can have a great time celebrating while keeping each other safe. Please be sure to remind friends and family to stay home and skip the celebration if they feel sick or have tested positive.  It is also a great idea for everyone to test themselves before getting together, ideally on the day of the gathering. It is always best to celebrate outdoors, and if people come indoors for part of the gathering, wearing a mask is advisable, particularly if there are individuals at high risk of severe illness should they become infected.”

LA County Public Health pointed out in a statement that six of the seven Early Alert metrics Public Health are tracking continue to convey cause for Medium or High Concern. Moreover, in the past week, four Early Alert Signals moved upward in the level of concern: The case rate in the lowest income areas and the number of new outbreaks at Skilled Nursing Facilities per week, both moved up to High Concern.

The number of new outbreaks in settings for People Experiencing Homelessness is now at Medium Concern. And the number of worksite clusters increased, moving from Medium to High Concern for the first time since Public Health started tracking this metric in early March.

There was also an uptick in the percentage of Emergency Department Visits. The only measure indicating Low Concern is the number of sewer systems with a two-fold increase in viral load.

The first of two hospital metrics in the CDC Community Levels Framework is the seven-day total of new hospital admissions per 100,000, which rose this past week to 8.1 admissions per 100,000 people. This is a 56% increase compared to one month ago. The second hospital metric, the seven-day average for the proportion of staffed inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, also increased this past week to 4.2%.

If the county moves into the CDC designated High Community Level and remains there for two consecutive weeks, the county would implement a universal indoor masking requirement for everyone age 2 and older in LA County as a safety measure aligned with the CDC framework. The safety measure would remain in effect until the county returned to the CDC Medium Community Level designation, or lower, for two consecutive weeks. 

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Coronavirus

CDC: 85% of gay & lesbian adults in U.S. are vaccinated against COVID

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBTQ persons limited because of the lack of routine SOGI data collection at the national & state levels

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Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/GSA

ATLANTA – A new study report released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), found that found 85.4% of gay and lesbian Americans above age 18 had received at least one vaccine dose as of October 2021.

The study, conducted from August 29 until October 30, 2021, also found that by comparison, only 76.3% of heterosexuals reported receiving at least an initial dose by the same date.

The report noted that Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) populations have higher prevalence of health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness compared with non-LGBT populations.

The potential for low vaccine confidence and coverage among LGBT populations is of concern because these persons historically experience challenges accessing, trusting, and receiving health care services

Data on COVID-19 vaccination among LGBT persons are limited, in part because of the lack of routine data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity at the national and state levels.

In March of 2021, the Blade reported the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has revealed deep-seated inequities in health care for communities of color and amplifies social and economic factors that have contributed to those communities being hit hardest, and Mega-vaccination centers set up by California health officials and the Federal Emergency Management Agency have been addressing and tracking the issue- the LGBTQ communities are still not being tracked.

This lack of data collection has frustrated and angered California State Senator Scott Wiener who authored a bill last year that passed through the legislature and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom last Fall that mandates gathering sexual orientation and gender identity data related to the COVID testing in California.

“We’re one year into the pandemic, and LGBTQ people continue to be erased in our public health response to COVID-19 — similar to our invisibility throughout history. No government is successfully tracking COVID-19 cases in the LGBTQ community, despite a law I wrote mandating that California do so,” Weiner told the Blade. “And, we now know that LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. We’ve also just learned that vaccination demographic data doesn’t include LGBTQ data. It simply shocking that in 2021, progressive health agencies continue to forget about our community,” he added.

The CDC also noted that gay and lesbian adults were more likely to be concerned about COVID-19 and to believe in the safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“We know that the prevalence of certain health conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness, such as cancer, smoking, and obesity, are higher in LGBT populations, and access to health care continues to be an issue for some people in the LGBT community,” Dr. A.D. McNaghten, a member of the CDC’s COVID-19 Emergency Response Team and corresponding author of the study, told ABC News. “We wanted to see if vaccination coverage among LGBT persons was the same as non-LGBT persons.”

The CDC data recorded that bisexual and transgender adults had similar vaccination rates to heterosexual adults with 72.6% of bisexual adults fully vaccinated by the end of October, as were 71.4% of transgender adults. The numbers however for Black and Hispanic lesbian women had lower rates of vaccination at 57.9% and 72.6%, respectively, compared to Black and Hispanic heterosexual women at 75.6% and 80.5%, respectively.

Higher percentages of gay or lesbian adults and bisexual adults reported that they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (90.8% and 86.8%, respectively) compared with heterosexual adults (80.4%), and higher percentages of adults who identified as transgender or nonbinary reported they thought COVID-19 vaccine was very or somewhat important to protect oneself (83.2%) compared with those who did not identify as transgender or nonbinary (80.7%).

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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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