Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Alyssa Erdley
Observer Staff Writer 

Big Jump in LA County Coronavirus Cases Today. Number of New Coronavirus Cases had been 40-60 per day.

Number of patients hospitalized because of COVID-19 is 90, about 17 percent of total

 

March 26, 2020

3/23- At a live-stream press conference today, LA Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer reported 128 new cases of known Coronavirus patients in LA County. Since Tuesday, March 17, the number of new cases per day had been holding fairly steady at between 40-60. Today's number shows a marked increase.

The total number of known Coronavirus cases in the county is 536. Two recent deaths have brought the total number of fatalities to 7. Dr. Ferrer added that 80 percent of the cases are people between the ages of 18 and 65. 42 percent of the cases are on the younger end of the spectrum, between ages 18 and 40. The number of people who have had to be hospitalized because of COVID-19 is 90, about 17 percent.

Much of the press conference concerned the procurement of additional testing kits and expanded lab capacity, a project that has been engaged in by the cooperating agencies at the county and Los Angeles city levels. However, although a large quantity of testing kits are on the way, a critical shortage of necessary ancillary supplies, such as swabs, gloves, and trays remains an issue. LA City Council President Nury Martinez sent an urgent message to any local manufacturers who might have tuned in to contact officials if they can help produce these items.

LA City Councilmember David Ryu announced that 20,000 test kits are arriving this week. CG Technologies, a South Korean company, will soon be delivering 100,000 test kits per week to Los Angeles, according to Ryu.

To date, only 4700 people have been tested in the county. Of that number, approximately 10 percent tested positive for COVID-19.

LA County Fire Department Medical Director Clayton Kazan explained the plan to phase in additional testing as more kits become available. This, of course, assumes the necessary swabs, gloves et al become available, as well. Kazan's plan called for 5 phases.

Phase 0 - This is happening now, where officials are procuring tests and establishing lab capacity.

Phase 1 - Testing of first responders and health care workers. This ensures their safety and that these critical workers are not unwittingly infecting others.

Phase 2 - Testing of high-risk populations. This includes senior living facilities and the homeless.

Phase 3 - Tests made available to doctors so they can test their patients in their homes rather than have the patients show up at the hospital.

Phase 4 - Widespread public access to tests.

Dr. Ferrer continued to urge the public to avoid congregating, even in outdoor areas. Earlier, public officials had encouraged people affected by the "Safer at Home" decree to go hiking, but apparently too many took the suggestion to heart. The County and City have now shut down all parks and trails, following a weekend of crowded beaches and trailheads. Officials now ask that people "walk around their neighborhood."

Those individuals who test positive for COVID-19 or who are told by a physician they are likely to test positive are required to practice isolation. This means staying at home for 7 days or until they are symptom-free for 72 hours, whichever is longer.

Those individuals who have had close contact with anyone who has tested positive must go into quarantine. This also requires staying home but the time span is 14 days. You must have essentials delivered to you, according to Dr. Ferrer. "You need to find others to do this for you," she said.

Dr. Ferrer directed anyone who has even the mild symptoms of a cold to stay home for 72 hours after one is symptom-free.

 

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