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Steps LA City And County Are Taking To Prevent Coronavirus Spread (As Of March 12)

(Screenshot from County of Los Angeles live stream)
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Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, provided an update today.

Some key takeaways:

  • There are three new cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County. One person was exposed through close contact with someone who became sick after attending the AIPAC conference in Washington, DC. The source of exposure for the other two cases is unknown, bringing to four the number of cases attributed to community transmission. One of the three individuals is hospitalized.
  • There are now 32 cases in the county (which includes four in Long Beach and one in Pasadena)
  • The county’s lab has tested 100 people over the last week and a half. There is a significant backlog -- “we’re swamped,” Ferrer said, and encouraged people to use commercial labs that have recently started offering tests. Those commercial labs have tested 120 people so far.
  • The county is in the process of submitting an application to the Food and Drug Administration to do some drive-thru testing.
  • The county hopes to be able to announce as soon as Friday that it has secured temporary housing for homeless people who have tested positive for COVID-19, as well as for homeless people who need to be quarantined.

Earlier today, Ferrer joined a number of city and county leaders who gave an update.
Some key takeaways...

From L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti:

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  • City departments are canceling all non-essential community events of 50 or more people
  • He is banning events or conferences on city property that would have more than 50 people
  • No more than 50 visitors will be allowed in city buildings at a time
  • The city has canceled all non-essential travel by city employees
  • City Hall is also closed to all non-city employees
  • Hand-washing and sanitizing facilities will be available at city properties

From Sheriff Alex Villanueva:

  • 5 L.A. County firefighters and 3 L.A. Sheriff’s deputies are quarantined at home after responding to a 911 call on Mar. 9 in Walnut for an individual who later died of the coronavirus. None of those quarantined have any symptoms at this time.
  • 911 operators will now screen callers about COVID-19 exposure to help reduce the risk to first responders.
  • County Emergency Operations Center is moving to Level 1, which means it will be fully staffed with leaders and experts from every county department, as well as with outside experts.
  • He’s canceling non-essential department travel and events and limiting the number of people at essential events (tomorrow’s academy graduation ceremony will be limited to the sheriff, cadets and two guests for each cadet)
  • Staffing and resource levels will otherwise not be reduced, so that first responders can continue to serve the community

Ferrer stressed that absent a vaccine, the community's primary means for fighting the spread of COVID-19 is social distancing, a general term for avoiding large gatherings and increasing the physical distance between you and others.
At the same time, Ferrer and other leaders sought to reassure the public that these are precautionary steps designed first and foremost to protect the most vulnerable among us.

Ferrer reminded the public that there are two critical actions everyone can take:

  • If you have even mild symptoms or think you're sick, stay home
  • Wash your hands frequently

This story will be updated.