Appearing on CNN 360 Monday evening, U. S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA), told host Anderson Cooper that “Unless we test, we will never know the extent of the spread of the #coronavirus and the extent of the challenge for us to eradicate it. It’s never too late to do the right thing. And in this case, doing the right thing can still save countless lives.”
The Speaker’s remarks focusing on testing comes on a day that Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials released preliminary results of a joint test study with researchers at The University of Southern California, showing that 4.1% of the county residents have antibodies to COVID-19.
During Monday’s afternoon daily press briefing, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, noted that the study tested a random sample of 863 county residents between April 10 and 14, finding COVID-19 antibodies in the blood of around 4.1% of them, “with a range that could be as low as 2.8% and as high as 5.6% when you factor in the reliability of the tests,” she said. “This translates to an estimated 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who may have been infected at some point with COVID-19, she added.”
With those numbers, Ferrer noted that hundreds of thousands more Angelenos may have been infected with the coronavirus in the past, even without showing any symptoms.
“Although I report every day that we have thousands of thousands of people that have tested positive, the serology testing lets us know that we have hundreds of thousands of people that have already developed antibodies to the virus because at some point in time over the last couple of months, they have in fact been infected with COVID-19,” she said.
Based on previously released data, that study figure is 28 to 55 times more that official case counts on previous testing models. As of Monday LACDPH set that figure at 13,816.
“Being positive for COVID-19 antibodies does not mean that a person is immune or that a person is not able to be reinfected,” Ferrer said. “More research is really needed to understand what protection do people have who have already been infected with COVID-19,” she added.
The USC lead researcher Dr. Neeraj Sood noted the results of this study “can help show how many people are potentially immune,” but Sood cautioned that more testing would be required.
Dr. Ferrer also pointed out that although the sample size of people tested theses early results already show that men were more likely to be infected with the coronavirus. Of those tested for antibodies in the county, 6% of men tested positive compared to 2% of women.
Among the 863 who had COVID-19 antibodies; 7% were African American, 6% were white, 4.2% were Asians and 2.5% were Latinx. 2.4% of people were between the ages of 18 and 34, 5.6% were between 35 to 54 years old and 4.3% were 55 and older.
“Given the high rate of people that many have been infected at some point with COVID-19, we need to assume that at any point in time, we could be infected and that all of the other people that we come in contact with can also be infected,” Ferrer said.
LACDPH also confirmed 17 new deaths and 1,491 new cases of COVID-19 Monday.
On Sunday, April 19 during his ‘State of the City Address,’ Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that he was furloughing some city workers due to financial problems created by the COVID-19 crisis and the necessity of essentially shutting Los Angeles down with the ‘Safer-At-Home’ measures.
“Our City revenues have plummeted. Hotel reservations have collapsed. After 9/11, our airport closed for two and a half days, passenger traffic fell by as much as a third that month, and it took 10 years to claw our way back. Today airport passenger traffic is down 95%. From a fiscal perspective, this is the worst it’s ever been,” the Mayor said.
Announcing the new city budget due to take effect July 1st, Garcetti said, “Soon, many departments will have to operate at sharply reduced strength. Cherished programs will lose funding, while recreational and community services will see significant changes. We’ll have less to spend on removing graffiti and caring for our urban forest. We face sharp limits right now. But I draw a red line around the foundation of our common good — those “back to basics” investments that keep our neighborhoods safe, our streets clean, our families housed, and our children and seniors fed.
We’ve already enacted a hiring freeze in our City government, and we will continue that in the coming year. Unfortunately, we must also face another painful reality: that our civilian employees will take 26 furlough days over the course of the next fiscal year … the equivalent of a ten percent reduction in pay.“
Garcetti’s announcement follows the release of a report last Friday which showed that because of the colossal impact that the coronavirus outbreak has had on the U.S. economy, less than half of Los Angeles County residents — 45% compared with 61% in mid-March — still hold a job, a decline of 16 percentage points, or an estimated 1.3 million jobs, according to findings from a national survey released Friday and reported on by the Los Angeles Times.
In Sacramento on Monday Governor Gavin Newsom announced new cross-sector partnerships to support the state’s distance learning efforts. “School may be physically closed, but class is still in session,” said Newsom. “But for a class to be in session, it is imperative that California addresses the inequities in access to computers, technology tools, and connectivity to ensure that online learning can, in fact, reach all of California’s children. It’s inspiring to see parents, teachers, businesses and philanthropy step up to meet this moment and provide tools to help bridge the digital divide and get more students connected.”
Approximately one in five students in California lack high-speed Internet or an appropriate computing device at home. In a parent survey two weeks ago, 50 percent of low-income families and 42 percent of families of color reported that they lacked the laptop, Chromebook, or tablet needed to access distance learning, the Governor’s Office noted in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade.
Companies, business leaders and philanthropists heeded the call by committing to provide Internet access for hundreds of thousands of households and over 70,000 laptops, Chromebooks, and tablets for students including Newsom’s office noted:
T-Mobile is donating 13,000 tablet devices, in addition to a previous donation of 100,000 hotspot devices (for which they partnered with Google.)
Amazon is donating 10,000 tablet devices.
Apple is actively working with 800 districts across the state, offering free coaching sessions to teachers to help them with the transition to remote learning. In addition, Apple is offering special pricing for iPads with cellular, and has given the equivalent of 9,000 iPads to ensure the most vulnerable in our state have access.
Verizon is partnering with the State of California to provide 250,000 students with unlimited Internet service at a discount.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Department of Education (CDE) will partner to distribute a total of $30 million to support connectivity. The CPUC will make $25 million available from the California Teleconnect Fund for hotspots and Internet service for student households. School districts will be able to apply to receive 50 percent discounts on the cost of hotspot devices and on monthly recurring service charges until September 30, 2020. Rural, small, and medium-sized districts will be prioritized.
More information is available here.