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Assume You Are Infected, Says L.A. County’s Health Director

County official says everyone should act as if they have COVID-19

Published on Monday, March 23, 2020 | 8:39 pm
Los Angeles County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer. Screengrab KABC-TV

On Saturday, Los Angeles County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer called on residents to proceed as if they are a carrier of the Coronavirus.

As a general rule of thumb, you should assume that you may be infected and that others around you may be infected. Therefore, act accordingly,” Ferrer said. `”Take every precaution possible to avoid infecting others and to avoid becoming infected. That’s the goal of social distancing.”

In Pasadena, there are three confirmed cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in residents. There have been no announced fatalities of Pasadenans, but a Glendora man died in Pasadena’s Huntington Hospital from COVID-19.

Altadena, with a population about one quarter the size of Pasadena, has also three confirmed cases.

Altadena residents frequently shop and attend events in Pasadena.

There are also three confirmed cases in South Pasadena, two in Arcadia and one in La Cañada Flintridge.

Pasadena has its own health department while Altadena, South Pasadena, La Cañada Flintridge and Arcadia are under the jurisdiction of the county health department. Pasadena issued a safer at home order on Thursday. Long Beach and Los Angeles County issued an identical order, although they have amended it.

The enhanced order prohibits all gatherings and events, and clarifies that golf courses and personal grooming services — including hair and nail salons — are nonessential services and are closed.

“The risk is spread across everybody who lives here in Los Angeles County,” Ferrer said. “Younger people, while they may have a better outcome [from an infection] are in fact one of the largest groups of people that we have tested who are positive for COVID-19.”

Health officials have stressed since the outbreak began that older people, those with underlying health conditions and pregnant women can suffer more severe consequences from contracting COVID-19, the threat of being diagnosed with the illness is spread across all age groups.

Although younger patients tend to suffer lesser symptoms, they can still spread the illness to people who may become more severely ill.

Ferrer said that of the county’s cases, 48 have been hospitalized at some point, including three of the new patients reported Friday.

There are fewer than 200 available intensive care unit beds countywide, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said.

Los Angeles County officials have been working to establish

quarantine/isolation areas for people who either have the virus, have been exposed to it or are showing symptoms. One location has already been established at Dockweiler State Beach, where RVs have been parked to provide isolation space.

County Supervisor Hilda Solis announced Friday that the Sheraton Fairplex hotel in Pomona will become a quarantine/isolation facility beginning Monday. She said the county has negotiated a lease for the hotel’s 244 rooms through June.

The rooms will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis, with one person housed per room. Solis said people in the hotel will receive services such as food, medical care and laundry.

The Pomona Fairplex is also opening a child-care center for the children of first-responders, and a drive-through food pantry will begin operating at the facility on April 1.

Ferrer stressed on Thursday that the county is going to see continued increases in cases over the next four to 12 weeks.

“But that doesn’t mean that the important actions that you’re all taking to combat this virus are not working,” she said. “Social distancing is critical and we implore you to take seriously everyone’s obligation to limit their exposures to others and to limit others from being exposed to you. This is the one way that we can all be serious about what it means to try to slow down the increasing number of cases here in the county.”

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