California Coronavirus Update: 'Many Weeks And Months To Come'
California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly delivered an update on coronavirus in California today. You can watch the video above and read highlights below.
DATA ERRORS IN STATE TRACKING SYSTEM
The state noticed some discrepancies in the state testing system, Ghaly said, so they're working on manually validating that data. They are also working with local health departments to address those discrepancies.
However, hospitalizations and ICU numbers are tracked in a separate system, Ghaly said. Those numbers are beginning to stabilize, though there are hotspots in parts of the state, including the Central Valley. There has been an 11% reduction in hospitalizations over the past 14 days.
Ghaly responded to a question about a large mansion party Monday night in Los Angeles County. He noted that it sounded like a high-risk experience for guests due to the lack of masks and physical distancing, as well as for those close to them — older relatives and those with underlying conditions that place them at higher risk.
Ghaly said the state depends on local law enforcement partners to enforce both the state and local health orders, and that it's important for them to enforce and not just reinforce messaging. He said that it's important for there to be conversations among local law enforcement and local leaders about issues such as large parties.
K-6 IN-PERSON SCHOOL WAIVERS
Counties on the state's coronavirus monitoring list can get waivers to allow for in-process instruction for elementary school children in kindergarten through 6th grade. School district superintendents can request a waiver from their health officer, California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan said.
It depends on the schools' plans for how to deal with both protecting from, and responding to, cases of COVID-19. Schools in counties whose numbers are twice that of the standard for getting off the monitoring list aren't eligible for waivers.
"MANY WEEKS AND MONTHS TO COME"
Ghaly used a baseball analogy, saying that California is in the early innings when it comes to dealing with coronavirus, and that there's a lot longer to go. We are still in the initial wave, and it's important to prepare for the second and even potentially third wave in the "many weeks and months to come," Ghaly said.
Ghaly went through the five-step process for what someone should do if they had COVID-19 symptoms. Those steps:
- Quarantine with symptom onset
- Get a timely COVID-19 test
- Isolate if there's a positive test result, staying at home for 14 days and avoiding contact with others
- Work with public health officials to identify close contacts — that includes people you live and work with
- Quarantine those close contacts
Ghaly also reiterated the importance of wearing a mask, maintaining six feet (or more) of distance, washing your hands, and minimize mixing with others.
Ghaly talked about using "case finding" to "corner the virus," limiting the spread and stopping outbreaks. The earlier that cases are found, the earlier the state can act, which is why it's important to address delays in processing tests.
California has conducted 14.4% of all the tests in the U.S., identifying 10.9% of the nation's cases. California has had 6.4% of the nation's deaths. Ghaly noted that one of California's goals is to test at above our percentage of the nation's population, which is 12% of the U.S. population.
These are four reasons that test processing delays are a focus, according to Ghaly:
- Timely test results
- Data submission from laboratories
- Data entry and validation processes
- System capacity to process high volumes