According to City Manager Steve Mermell, Pasadena Health Director Ying Ying Goh and Dr. David Man, Chief of Infectious Diseases at Huntington Hospital and Leonard De La Cruz, Infection Preventionist will provide a public presentation on the Coronavirus at the March 9 City Council meeting.
As of Tuesday, 2,771 people have died and 81,406 are suffering from the disease, which originated in China and forced the quarantine of Wuhan, a large metropolitan city, and 15 surrounding cities. During the quarantine trains and public transit came to a halt, and air travel was canceled. Residents were urged to stay at home, and to wear masks when venturing outdoors.
The quarantine area has now expanded to include about 35 million people according to the L.A. Times. The virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica.
Former Mayor Bill Paparian Wesnesday called on Mermell and Mayor Terry Tornek to follow San Francisco and declare a state of emergency.
“I can assure you that our Director of Public Health/Health Officer Dr. Goh and her staff have been very engaged with county, state & federal officials as it relates to the Coronavirus,” Mermell wrote in an email to Paparian. “Given the spread of the disease, there is certainly cause for concern. However, we need to be mindful of not prompting panic or undue fear on the part of residents. Our response needs to be based on facts and information.”
Hours after Mermell’s statement Orange County declared a state of emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, following Tuesday’s declaration in San Francisco.
“Let’s not wait for the first coronavirus virus case to be reported in Pasadena,” Paparian said.
Paparian asked city officials to declare a state of emergency; Submit a request for funding to the federal government for Pasadena’s response to the crisis in the amount of $1 million dollars; Train paramedics in how to test for the coronavirus virus; Set up Pasadena Health Department Coronavirus Testing Centers in all public and private schools, fire stations, the Health Department, the Senior Center, the Pasadena Police Jail, and all public parks that are suitable; Issue a request to the Pasadena medical community for doctors and nurses, and even those who are retired, to volunteer to help staff the Pasadena Health Department’s Coronavirus Virus Testing Centers; Make coronavirus testing available to all students in public and private schools, all residents of Pasadena and the homeless residing in our city; Launch a citywide education campaign on the coronavirus crisis; Make face masks immediately available through the Pasadena Health Department and appoint a Citizens Coronavirus Task Force.
“Our first responders, Police and Fire do receive training in how to respond to individuals who may have infectious disease and we provide our people with appropriate personal protective equipment,” Mermell said. “To safeguard against Coronavirus the appropriate mask is designated as an N95. These are in short supply and we are not in a position to make them available to the general public. As far as public education goes, we are pushing out the various health warnings and will continue to do so. In short, the best advice is really the same messaging related to avoiding the flu. We are also working with our regional disaster services area on contingency planning and continuity of operations, should such be necessary.”
“Everyone in the community should continue to follow basic infection prevention practices – including cleaning hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub, covering your cough, and avoiding close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms,” said Dorey Huston, a spokesperson at Huntington Hospital. “Our emergency management team prepares year-round to respond to events that impact community health and well-being – including virus outbreaks, natural disasters, etc. — to ensure that we are here for people when they need us most.”
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger authored a motion asking the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors at its March 4 meeting to request funding from the federal government to aid the County efforts in addressing the threat.
“Los Angeles County has been diligently working to monitor any potential cases of coronavirus while providing rapid information to the public,” said Supervisor Barger. “This funding is necessary to support our efforts and ensure the ongoing protection of our residents. We will remain vigilant and leave no stone unturned to limit the potential spread of the virus.”
On Wednesday, President Trump addressed the nation.
“The U.S. has ordered a lot of masks to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak,” President Trump said. “We may not need it, you understand that,” he told a reporter. “We’re looking at worst-case scenario, we’re going to be set very quickly.”
Trump insisted he didn’t think the U.S. would end up needing the masks because flights and “borders are very controlled.”