Connect with us

Coronavirus

COVID-19 DAILY: Newsom says ‘The Virus doesn’t take weekends off’

Stay at home

Published

on

Newport Beach waterfront north of Newport Pier, Saturday, April 25, 2020. (Photo by Michael Heiman, Vice-President for Global Editorial Operations at Getty Images)

A visibly frustrated California Governor Gavin Newsom, while sounding a note of appreciation to the greater majority of the state’s residents, singled out the crowds of people on the beaches in Ventura and Orange Counties seen in press and social media photos published over this past weekend.

We have to manage risk,” Newsom said. “We have to manage and augment our behavior. And that’s why I cannot impress upon you more to those Californians watching that we can’t see the images like we saw, particularly on Saturday, in Newport Beach and elsewhere in the state of California.”

Those images are an example of what not to see, … what not to do if we’re going to make the meaningful progress that we’ve made in the last few weeks extend into the next number of weeks,” Newsom said. “The reality is we are just a few weeks away, not months away, from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order.

That is a very optimistic point to emphasize, however, that’s driven by data. That’s driven by behavior. And as we change our behavior we can impact the science, the health and the data. This virus doesn’t take the weekends off. This virus doesn’t go home because it’s a beautiful sunny day around our coasts.”

The Governor hammered away at the behavioral aspects reminding residents that the cooperation of everyone was going to be needed to get the state’s economy reopened although Newsom did caution that he very much would be reliant on the six indicators that would phase in the eventual return of public commerce.

I cannot impress upon people more: The only thing that will set us back is our behavior,” he said. “The only thing that will set us back is people stopping to practice physical distancing and appropriate social distancing. That’s the only thing that’s gonna slow down our ability to reopen this economy, our ability to adapt and modify the stay-at-home order. As I said, weeks — not months — if the data continues to be as stable as it has been over the course of the last few weeks. The only thing that can stop that is more images like we saw over this weekend.”

Dr. Lei Zhang, the Herbert Rabin Distinguished Professor and Director of the Maryland Transportation Institute at the University of Maryland in suburban Washington D.C., is head of a project designed to measure and track social distancing compliance using anonymous cellphone data

Our goal is to not only produce new and compelling data, but to truly inform and support decision-makers with the best available data and interactive analysis tools,” said Zhang, who leads the project.

Government agencies need to improve the effectiveness of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders by educating the general public, increasing enforcement, working with employers and communities, and supporting vulnerable populations who may encounter challenges in meeting social distancing requirements.”

Speaking with NBC’s TODAY show on Monday morning, Zhang noted that the UMD research team recorded a 3% decline in compliance by Americans as people are experiencing “quarantine fatigue because they’ve spent weeks cooped up inside,” coupled with factors including some individual states loosening social distancing rules and the weather improving.

“What we see right now is that individual Americans — many of them are deciding on their own that they’re going to reopen themselves to go out more,” Zhang said. “It’s just a major shift as the nation fights the pandemic.”

On Saturday, Michael Heiman, Vice-President for Global Editorial Operations at Getty Images in Los Angeles, shot a picture just north of the Newport Pier in Newport Beach, California, along the beachfront that showed massive crowds who were not in compliance with the state’s requirements for social distancing and appropriate safety measures.

Heiman’s picture was just one of several, many shared on social media outlining the extend of the non-compliance, although in neighboring Los Angeles and San Diego Counties where the beaches are closed, images shot in those jurisdictions showed very little activity on those beaches.

One resident of Orange County told the Los Angeles Blade Monday afternoon that a good deal of the people on the beachfront were actually residents of other jurisdictions and not people residing in ‘the OC.’

As a result of the publicity and Governor Newsom calling the behaviours out, “the Newport Beach City Council’s holding a special meeting Tuesday afternoon on the city’s response to coronavirus, and one of the items on the agenda is possibly closing its beaches down on the weekend. One proposal being considered: The beach would remain open during the week, but close down Saturday and Sunday for the next three weeks,” the LAist reported Monday.

Asked by a reporter during the ‘Question & Answer’ portion of the briefing if he’d consider stronger measures such as potentially having police issuing citations that could lead to arrest, Newsom indicated he’d prefer not to.

He addressed the data points that he uses in the expectation of moving the state forward, noting as always the deaths of his fellow Californians.

The past weekend saw 45 deaths which Newsom said represented a modest decline. He also noted that there had been a slight uptick of 1.4% in hospitalizations although the ICU data had remained flat.

Newsom also addressed the serious issues with the state’s unemployment assistance, noting that from an IT standpoint there were definite shortcomings and also stated that this was a reason that he had ordered longer operating hours and expanded the workweek. Many Californians seeking jobless benefits in recent weeks had found phone lines jammed and had their calls disconnected, or encountered error messages and frozen screens at the state’s online portal.

Colorado and Nevada join California, Oregon and Washington in the Western States Pact Newsom also announced Monday. “I want to thank Colorado and Nevada for joining the Western States Pact,” he said. “COVID-19 doesn’t follow state or national boundaries, and it will take every level of government, working together to get the upper hand on this virus.”

In a written media statement issued Monday Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak addressed the newly formed partnership with the other states.

Coloradans are working together to slow the spread of COVID-19 and have important information to share with and to gain from other states. I’m thrilled Colorado is joining the Western States Pact,” said Polis. “There’s no silver bullet that will solve this pandemic until there is a cure so we must have a multifaceted and bold approach in order to slow the spread of the virus, to keep our people safe and help our economy rebound.”

I’m honored to have the State of Nevada join the Western States Pact and believe the sharing of critical information and best practices on how to mitigate the spread, protect the health and safety of our residents, and reopen responsibly will be invaluable as we chart our paths forward,” said Governor Sisolak. “Millions of visitors from our fellow Western states travel to Nevada every year as a premier tourism destination, and this partnership will be vital to our immediate recovery and long-term economic comeback.” 

According to information provided to the Blade by Newsom’s office, as part of the Western States Pact, the Governors are committed to working together toward the following four goals:

  1. Protecting vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. This includes a concerted effort to prevent and fight outbreaks in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
  2. Ensuring an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. This will require adequate hospital surge capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.
  3. Mitigating the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities.
  4. Protecting the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.

In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) confirmed 29 new deaths and 900 new cases of COVID-19. One death was reported by the City of Pasadena.

The increases in deaths represent our family members, friends and neighbors including front-line essential workers, who have passed away from COVID-19. To all who are grieving, you are in our thoughts and prayers, and we are so sorry for your loss,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

Healthcare workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they put themselves at risk everyday so that we all can receive excellent care. We owe them a debt of gratitude and the protection and equipment they need to do their jobs safely. They are our heroes.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during his daily press conference announced Monday that the County and City, starting Tuesday, will expand COVID-19 testing to include asymptomatic people who work in transportation services, including delivery, ride-share and taxi drivers. Garcetti also noted that testing will include workers who are employed in media organizations.

Those interested can sign up for an appointment online.

After reaching its goal of signing up 12,000 seniors, the mayor announced the second phase of the city’s Senior Meal Emergency Response program, now with access to funding from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program will provide more free meals to seniors and will employ workers in the hospitality and restaurant industries who have been laid-off during the crisis,” KTLA reported Monday evening.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

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

Published

on

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 

Continue Reading

Coronavirus

LA County launches new COVID test collection program

Testing partner sites listed on LA County’s website have been pre-screened to ensure that they offer testing with no out-of-pocket cost

Published

on

Screenshot via Spectrum News1 LA

LOS ANGELES – LA County Department of Health Services launches new program designed to increase and facilitate access to COVID-19 tests for LA County residents unable to obtain appointments.  The program will allow residents to pick up a PCR test kit, perform the test, and return the completed kit to designated locations for processing. Residents will be notified of their test results within 24-48 hours.

The “Pick-Up Testing Kit” program is the latest in a series of LA County efforts designed to expand testing capacity as demand grows across the county. Recent efforts to increase capacity include increasing the days and hours of operation for existing sites, adding mobile testing units, and providing intermittent availability of Home Testing Kits via mail. 

The new “Pick-Up Testing Kit” program will operate at 13 testing sites across LA County. “Pick-Up Test Kits” will be available without an appointment and until daily supplies are exhausted. The “Pick-Up Testing Kits” will test for both COVID-19 and Influenza (A and B), the same as all LA County operated testing locations.  

“We look forward to reducing the waiting time to get tested for individuals unable to book an appointment,” said Paula Siler RN, MS Director of Community Mobile Testing Operations at the LA County Department of Health Services.  “Once all 13 Pick-Up Testing locations are fully operating and once our Home Testing Kit by mail program is simultaneously relaunched later this week, we will have successfully added over 10,000 additional daily Covid tests available to the residents of LA County.”

For details and a full listing of “Pick-Up Testing Kit” locations and hours of operation please visit: Pick-Up Testing Kit

The new “Pick-Up Testing Kits” are available to all LA County residents who are experiencing symptoms or believe they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. To preserve limited resources, the “Pick-Up Testing Kits” are not intended for use by those testing as a requirement to return to school, work or participate in other activities where routine testing is mandated. The “Pick-Up Testing Kits” offer only PCR testing not rapid testing.

Individuals who need to get tested as part of a requirement for work, school, or other activities should seek testing via their employer, school district or the entity requiring the testing.

LA County residents can find COVID-19 testing sites at covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/

All testing locations listed within the county testing website offer COVID-19 tests at no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of insurance coverage or immigration status.

It is important that LA County residents understand that not all COVID-19 testing sites within the LA County region are affiliated or operated by LA County. COVID testing sites are also being operated by private companies, private health care systems and local municipalities and some of these privately operated sites do charge for their testing services.

Only the testing sites listed within the LA County COVID-19 testing website covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/have been vetted by LA County.

As of January 7, 2021 – there are approximately 260 COVID-19 testing locations listed in the LA County’s COVID-19 testing site (covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/), of those, the county operates about 66 community sites and 7 state sites. The remaining locations are operated by testing partners.

Testing partner sites listed on LA County’s website are sites that have been pre-screened by LA County to ensure that they offer testing with no out-of-pocket cost, regardless of health insurance or immigration status and that they offer testing using a test approved by the FDA.

LA County does not have oversight over testing sites not directly operated by the LA County Department of Health Services.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @LosAngelesBlade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular