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

By Janet McLaughlin
Observer STaff WRiter 

LA Co. Public Health Investigates 14 long-term Care or Nursing Facilities with a positive case of Covid-19

Dr. Barbara Ferrer: If we don't curtail the spread, there could be a million cases in LA Co. in a few weeks

 

March 28, 2020

File photo

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, says if we don't curtail the spread, there could be a million cases in LA Co. in a few weeks

From the LA Co. Health Dept daily briefing on 3/26: 421 new Covid-19 cases were reported, and nine new deaths, bringing the total to 21 deaths, and 1216 cases in LA Co. today. They removed the teen from the original stats, saying Covid-19 may not have been the cause.

Another person was removed because they did not live in LA Co. Director of LA Co. Public Health, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, says if we don't curtail the spread, there could be a million cases in LA Co. in a few weeks! And that would overwhelm the health care system. 40% of the positive cases were people between ages 18-40, another 40% between the ages of 41-65. 253 cases have been hospitalized, which is 21% of all positive cases.

Mortality rate is 1.6%, similar to U.S. as a whole. That is higher than the flu. Confirmed cases are being isolated; close contacts are being quarantined. LA Co. Public Health is investigating 14 different institutions, primarily long-term care and nursing facilities, that have a positive case of Covid-19; either patient or staff. They will post more info on the Co. Health Dept. website. Dr. Ferrer says there is a lot of infection in the community. As of 3/25, more than 9400 people were tested in LA Co. About 10% are testing positive. There has been a huge increase in testing; 4000 test results came back yesterday.

Testing capacity is increasing, but supply is still limited. Only symptomatic people are being tested, after clinical evaluation.

Anyone feeling ill must self isolate, and everyone asymptomatic must practice self-distancing. Anyone who thinks they have Covid-19 must inform everyone they have been around more than 10 minutes. You must quarantine yourself if you were a close contact of someone with Covid-19, for 14 days. Dept. of Mental Health will take calls from all feeling stressed.

Local Hospitals Struggle to Find Equipment

At Thursday's briefing, Director of Health Services Dr. Christina Ghaly says there are 208 ICU beds that are open across the county, and 830 ventilators available.

A couple hundred more are close to delivery, or have been delivered and are being serviced with new batteries. EMS agency is in the process of distributing them.

All hospitals have the ability to surge ICU beds. They don't staff beds if they are not filled. A lot of hospitals are working to bring on contact staff, and retired health care personnel. There are also efforts to set up alternative care sites which will have ICU capacity.

EMS is working with hospitals across the county to make sure everyone has enough supplies; including PPE--Personal Protective Equipment, and ventilators. Dr. Ghaly says the surge of patients has not yet happened, and hospitals are clearing out all patients they safely can, to make room for Covid patients.

Every day they get new FEMA shipments, stockpile from state and federal supplies, and regular supply deliveries. All hospitals should follow CDC regulations for reusing PPE equipment. Dr. Ghaly says there are no current gaps in equipment, except for face plastic face shields.

File Photo

Health care workers in haz mat suits treating Covid-19 patients.

A new shipment of those arrived today. She says there is currently not a shortage of masks or respirators or anything else. Hospitals should all follow CDC guidelines in how to properly reuse equipment, so supplies will be available in case of a surge of cases.

Dr. Ferrer says they are testing homeless people, and have not found any positive cases. She says babysitters, housekeepers, and handymen are still allowed in people's houses.

The LA Convention Center is being investigated for deployment for quarantine and isolation of Covid-19 patients, but not for acute care, says Dr. Ghaly.

Equipment will be delivered there on Saturday, March 28th. No definitive date yet for when it will open. Dr. Ferrer says the average length of illnesses for Covid-19 in mild cases is between 7-10 days. Serious illnesses can require weeks of hospitalization. Everyone is reminded to stay home, and to stay at least fix feet away from others when out.

 

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