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Covid-19 Daily: Newsom stays the course as Garcetti says “Stay at Home” to May 15

All public parks closed

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Los Angeles now features the cleanest air of any big city on earth, a side benefit of the “Stay At Home” rule. (Photo Brody Levesque)

In his daily COVID-19 press conference Friday Governor Gavin Newsom announced the release of $100 million in state funding to support child care services, and to support child care providers who are stepping up to serve essential infrastructure workers and vulnerable populations and their children during the pandemic.

Many of California’s workers on the front lines of this pandemic are parents, and as a father, I know the importance of making sure our children are kept healthy and safe. This funding is very important to make sure that working parents that are part of the essential workforce in our state, as well as those that are part of vulnerable populations have the child care resources they need,” he said.

$50 million will go to the California Department of Education to be used to pay for up to 20,000 limited-term additional state-subsidized slots for child care. The other $50 million will go to the Department to ensure child care centers, facilities and family provider homes are safe and clean for the children and families they are serving by reimbursing them for the purchase of gloves, face coverings, cleaning supplies, and other labor-related to cleaning in accordance with federal and state public health and safety guidelines.

Newsom also outlined steps that the state has ordered to protect Seniors who are residents and the employees of the more than 1,224 skilled nursing facilities and 7,461 assisted living residential care facilities across the state.

Some of the measures ordered include:

  • Retraining 600 nurses to support facility compliance with COVID-19 guidance and to assist facilities with positive cases

  • Working to decompress facilities to help slow the potential spread of COVID-19 in these facilities and create facilities specifically for positive patients

  • Reaching out proactively to each skilled nursing facility on a daily basis to assess their specific needs and identify and address any challenges early on

  • Prioritizing testing for patients discharged from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility to ensure patients who test positive are transferred to a facility that can safely provide care to the residents and also protect COVID-19 negative residents. California will also prioritize the testing of symptomatic residents and potentially exposed residents to ensure they are immediately isolated

  • Prioritizing personal protective equipment to facilities with COVID-19 positive staff or residents and facilities that are at increased risk to COVID-19

The Governor also noted that while the movement of data of active cases appeared to be headed in a downward trend, he cautioned that a peak was potentially still a month away possibly in mid to late May. He stressed that even though the county to county data shows slight reductions in cases, the most important element to success was maintaining physical distancing. “Stay the course,” he emphasized.

Backing Newsom’s data, according to a report issued Friday by the Centers for Disease Control, the rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases in California is well below the national average.

Speaking about the daily statistics on the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsom relayed that there were 541 deaths, 19,472 patients who tested positive, of which in the past 24 hours 2,897 required hospitalization. He then noted that there had been 1,145 ICU cases, which reflected a 1.1% increase from Thursday. The Governor emphasized the need for Californians to take breaks and be mentally healthy and if residents are requiring assistance avail themselves of the resources on the state’s COVID19.CA.GOV website.

In Los Angeles officials confirmed that there had been a slight “flattening of the curve” after a second consecutive day of fewer COVID-19 deaths. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) has confirmed 18 new deaths and 475 new cases of COVID-19. Over the last 48 hours, there have been 900 new cases.To date, LACDPH has identified 8,430 cases across all areas of LA County, including 241 deaths

Because everyone here is doing their part because people are heeding the directives, we have seen what we now can confirm what is in fact a flattening of the curve in a way that’s actually saving lives and allowing us to have a chance at making sure that our health care system remains able to serve all who need care,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of the Los Angeles County Public Health Department said Friday. “But because there are so many people who are infected in L.A. County, and because there’s still so much spread, we have to continue to keep ourselves physically apart from each other during the next few weeks.”

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) released today its COVID-19 Hospital Demand Modeling Projections showing that physical distancing is slowing the rate of COVID-19 transmission in the county. The projections indicate that if current levels of physical distancing are not maintained, there will be an exponential rapid increase in the rate of infection, severely hampering the ability of the hospital system to meet that demand.

The data revealed from this modeling effort led to a decision by the County of Los Angeles Public Health’s decision to extend the ‘Safer at Home’ and business-closure orders order until May 15, 2020.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services urged people to keep up their self-isolating efforts. “If you were to reduce physical distancing to the pre-health officer-order levels,” she said, “virtually all individuals in Los Angeles County- 95.6% per the
model would be infected by the pandemic by August 1, 2020. That number is starkly reduced, down to about 30%, if we maintain the current levels of physical distancing.”

If we’re able to increase the level of physical distancing by the people who are able to remain at home more than they are today, then we could reduce the number of infected individuals even further, down to an estimated 5.5%.” Ghaly added.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti delivered his own blunt message during his daily COVID-19 briefing telling reporters that “Getting together is prohibited,” and then he noted that people defying the ‘Safer At Home’ measure and who were congregating in clusters, “[…] these activities can cause people to lose their lives.” He reminded Angelenos that the city’s Parks were closed and were being patrolled.

Following numerous complaints regarding the lack of personal distancing at one of the more popular walking paths in Los Angeles, Los Angeles City Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and David Ryu announced that the trail around the Silver Lake Reservoir will turn into a one-way path.

Starting Saturday morning, April 11, all walkers and runners will be asked to follow a counterclockwise direction around the trail. Path users are instructed to always maintain 6-feet of distance between others not in their household, as per the guidelines from public health officials. Additionally, Mayor Garcetti has ordered residents to wear face coverings while out in the neighborhood.

We all love the Silver Lake Reservoir path, one of the few public spaces people can still use for their daily exercise while we’re under this emergency declaration” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “I want to see the path remain open during the pandemic, but unless personal distancing is being adhered to and users wear face coverings, we could see the path closed as a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the city.”

“When we’re outside, it’s important that we wear masks and maintain the social distance that stops the spread of the Coronavirus and saves lives,” Councilmember Ryu said. “That’s what these signs are about. We want Silver Lake residents to have the chance to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and walk our beautiful reservoir, but to do so in a way that helps prevent new infections.”

O’Farrell sent out a media statement Friday reminding residents that the City has taken additional steps to ensure Angelenos stay safer at home:

  • Recreation and Parks Facilities are Closed for Easter – The Mayor announced that all park facilities will be closed to the public to prevent an increase in holiday gatherings, beginning the evening of Saturday, April 11 through the morning of Monday, April 13. Restrooms in parks will remain open during normal hours.

  • Worker Protection Order -The Mayor initiated this order starting today which directs employees and customers at many non-medical essential businesses such as grocery stores will be required to wear face coverings to protect those taking care of us. Workers at these businesses are also required to wear a covering, which employers must provide.

  • Safer at Home Order Extension– The Mayor announced the stay at home order will remain in effect until May 15. All Angelenos should continue to remain indoors except for essential activities such as grocery shopping, obtaining medical supplies and exercising. Social distancing guidelines remain in place. All non-essential businesses will remain closed, along with beaches, walking trails and parks.

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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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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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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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