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L.A. Officials deliver update on COVID-19 for the Los Angeles Region
By Betti Halsell, Contributing Writer
Published March 19, 2020

Wednesday, March 18, the L.A. County Office of Emergency Management and Department of Health Services provided latest information on the Coronavirus within boundaries of Los Angeles. Community officials outlined how the city intends on responding to the national crisis and provide essential resources to all residents affected by the SARS-CoV-2. City officials covered school and childcare, homelessness, current healthcare system, and latest cases identified. They addressed concern of food security and medical availability.

First to speak was Kathryn Barger, chair of Los Angeles county board of supervisors. She began the discussion addressing the concern of parents and childcare needs. With the extended school closures putting a strain on working parents, school administrations are partnering up with local resource agencies and creating “pop up” childcare programs abiding by the social distancing guidelines. Resources of fully operational childcare programs are listed online and can be found at lacounty.gov/covid19. Barger acknowledged the issue of this severe acute respiratory syndrome has impacted the emotional growth and development of our youth. The city is looking to advocate practices that align with social distancing, but also provide outlets to continue their progression into adulthood.

Covering the effects of the Corona Virus within the homeless community, was Hilda Solis, 1st district, LA county board of Supervisors. She provided information regarding how the city of Los Angeles is acting on behalf of the more high-risk groups of people; there is an official count of 44,000 unsheltered L.A. inhabitants and roughly 5,000 of that population are over the age of 62, putting them at higher risk to be infected. Solis shared that a good amount of the homeless also carry pre-existing conditions which does leave them in subprime and dangerous risk of being infected with the virus. The solution the city is providing is extending the winter shelter program. Generally, the winter shelters stay open until March 31. However, in light of the crisis, they are looking to keep the winter shelter programs operational until April 30.

L.A. has provided mobile hand washing stations, and local service providers are receiving essential medical supply, Solis did make note that donations are needed to aid the local service providers. Hilda also addressed general food security, she confirmed there is no shortage of food, but there is a challenge in accessibility to provisions. Solis recommended the Cal Fresh benefits program to anyone in need of assistance, they provide ways to fresh produce and provide financial assistance in form of an EBT card that will be accepted and local markets. In addition to that resource, L.A. county are setting up “Grab and go stations,” that will offer substances to families in need.

Following Hilda Solis was the Director Public Health, Barbara Ferrer. She disclosed the alignment of county resources. Ferrer administered the latest case count for COVID-19, confirming 46 new cases, that brings a total of 96 cases within 48 hours. In total, L.A. county has over 190 recorded cases. 8 of the cases were reported in Long Beach and 2 were confirmed in Pasadena. All confirmed cases have been isolated and quarantined. Barbara spoke in depth about flattening the curve. She stated, “… The slower the spread of the virus, the more we are able to maintain the capacity of our essential healthcare system.” The forecast predicts an increase of cases over the next 4-12 weeks.

There has been city issued orders to close public placements, that includes restaurants, movie theaters, and bars. Health inspectors are out assuring exposed environments are compliant with social distancing guidelines. Barbara closed by showing gratitude to all essential service workers which include; grocery store employees, hospitals, pharmacist, first responders, public safety, and public health agencies, she recognized these groups are the foundation to maintaining the city’s infrastructure.

Christina Ghaly, MD, Director of health services stated all hospitals have put into act emergency plans, setting up tents to screen before admitting patience. Medical institutions are looking into alternative places of isolation. Ghaly requested to use discretion when requesting emergency assistance i.e. calling 911 about concerns of the Corona Virus. She stated to refrain from going to emergency rooms or calling emergency hotlines because it floods channels that are trying to reply to crucial emergencies that may take priority of first responders. However, Christina reassured that the overall health system has been very strong.

The Los Angeles region has been diligently working on solutions; coordinating with local service agencies to provided aid and information regarding COVID-19.  Community officials shared their response and efforts to help flatten the curve and slow down the transmission of SARS-CoV-2. It was encouraged to practice common sense and follow the guidelines of social distancing. As of March 13., Corona Virus was proclaimed to be a national emergency. By March 9. the global cases passed 100,000. Considering the rapid spread of the virus, on March 6. US Congress approved $8.3 billion in aid for the Corona Virus. The first clinical trial for a potential vaccine was administered in Seattle, Washington. The cases of respiratory illness are looking to increase, advice to stay home as much as possible was heavily implied. Find more information and resources on http://lacounty.gov/covid19 or http://ph.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/

 

Categories: COVID-19 | Family | Health | Local | News | Political
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