March 28, 2020 at 5:27 pm PDT | by Brody Levesque
California COVID-19 ICU cases double overnight; WeHo cautions against scams

Public health officials across California report that the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care units (ICU) doubled overnight. As of 2 pm. Saturday, the state now has 4,643 confirmed cases and 101 deaths, a spokesperson for the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) told the Los Angeles Blade Saturday afternoon, adding that approximately 89,600 tests had been conducted as of March 27.

California is bracing for a possible torrent of new infections. During his pier-side briefing Friday, Calif. Gov. Gavin Newsom noted that getting fast and accurate confirmation of cases is an issue: there still aren’t enough tests available and tens of thousands of tests have still not been processed.

It is imperative to follow the testing protocols, says the CDPH spokesperson, to process and confirm cases. The results are usually available after 24 to 48 hours.

The problem is that time lag in notifying medical workers treating patients. A medical worker at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who asked to not be identified, pointed to that gap from testing to notification as a critical issue.

“There’s as much as ten times as many cases of coronavirus infection than is being reported,” the worker told the Blade. “I think that the death count is very likely much higher, because the criteria for testing is so strict. So we don’t really know the actual infection rate or mortality rate is currently.”

The protocol is: two sealed specimens, a nasal swab and an oral swab, are delivered to a lab for testing. The samples are then treated with specialized chemicals and enzymes to isolate the COVID-19 virus. Then a series of tests are run in a specialized machine to determine if the COVID-19 genetic sequences are present. If the test results are positive, then the patient whose sample is run is diagnosed as having COVID-19.

On Saturday afternoon, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed six new deaths and 344 new cases of COVID-19. According to a media release, the LACPDH has identified 1804 cases across all areas of LA County, including 32 deaths.

“Upon further investigation, three cases reported earlier were not LA County residents. As of today, 398 positive cases (22% of positive cases) have been hospitalized,” the release stated.

“We are sad to announce six additional deaths from COVID-19 today,” Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County Public Health Director said in a statement. “More than ever, it is crucial that we practice social distancing, and if we are sick, even with mild illness, we make every effort to self-isolate from others for at least 7 days.

“Those who have been in close contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days,” she continued. “Please do your part to not infect others or become infected yourself by adhering to the public health directives and practicing social distancing whenever you do go outside. If we all commit ourselves to stay home, stay away from others when sick, and stay 6 feet apart when out, we will save lives.”

Meanwhile, officials in the City of West Hollywood — which maintains a special Coronavirus information page — are cautioning residents to be aware of scammers and other criminals attempting to take advantage of the COVID-19 outbreak crisis.

Residents were advised that “there has been an increase in coronavirus (COVID-19) scams involving fraudulent and malicious websites, email schemes, and phishing emails containing suspicious links, as well as dishonest door-to-door asks for donations. Local law enforcement and public officials across the region are urging community members to exercise caution,” according to a WeHo City press release issued Friday.

Currently, there are several malware sites that claim to be coronavirus tracking and mapping sites that are in fact malicious. Cybersecurity experts advise website users to hover over links before clicking in order to verify the uniform resource locator (URL) before moving forward. Online hackers may also send emails from fraudulent accounts impersonating official websites and doctors or offering medical supplies and services.

The following is a list of safety tips:

Avoid online advertising offers related to COVID-19;

 

Decline door-to-door solicitations claiming COVID-19 fundraising;

 

Do not click on emails and attachments that you do not recognize;

 

Visit trusted websites for COVID-19 related information or donate to organizations to trust and seek out.

Everyone should remain vigilant and take these steps to avoid being victimized by malicious scammers trying to profit from the COVID-19 crisis. If you believe you have been scammed, contact your bank immediately and report the information to local law enforcement. The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station may be reached at (310) 855-8850.

For up-to-date information please visit:

The California Department of Public Health

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 

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