Public health officials said there were two cases of coronavirus in Santa Monica Thursday after confirming Wednesday that three individuals in the city had tested positive.
Officials announced 40 new cases across Los Angeles County Thursday for a total of 231. Two individuals with coronavirus live in Santa Monica, according to a county list of known cases, even though a list yesterday confirmed three individuals. Thursday’s list also confirmed four cases in Venice and 13 in Brentwood.
L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said at a press conference Thursday that the true countywide total is likely much higher, so people should assume they may be infected and that people around them may be infected.
“If we all take this mindset and act accordingly, it will slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “Everyone should remain at home as much as possible.”
Ferrer said at a Wednesday press conference that a shelter-in-place order, which six Bay Area counties have been under since Tuesday, is not imminent in L.A. County. She said the county’s guidance for people to work from home if possible and forgo non-essential trips out of the house is similar to a shelter-in-place order.
On Thursday, Ferrer said a man between the ages of 30 and 50 with an underlying health condition died of the virus, bringing the county death toll to two and demonstrating that seniors are not the only demographic at risk of death or serious symptoms.
“I urge young people to take hold of this opportunity you have in front of you to do what’s right not just for you, but everyone around you,” she said.
Still, Ferrer asked young and healthy residents to check in with their elderly neighbors and offer to drop off their groceries and medications. Despite the early morning senior hours many grocery stores are offering, the safest option for older adults is to get groceries delivered, she said.
Locally, nonprofits and charities are stepping up to ensure that people older than 65 can get food and necessary supplies without leaving their homes.
Meals on Wheels is transitioning from delivering hot meals five days a week to delivering a hot meal and frozen meals on Monday and Friday. Clients will also receive meal replacement shakes from Kate Farms and a senior nutrition box in collaboration with Westside Food Bank.
The organization has a sufficient number of volunteers for the next two weeks but is now accepting enrollment for backup volunteers and seeking donations on its website, www.mealsonwheelswest.org, or through its Facebook page to accommodate increased demand.
WISE & Healthy Aging, the primary nonprofit serving seniors in Santa Monica, is offering boxed meals with a few days worth of food for pick-up on Mondays and Thursdays at the Ken Edwards Center.
President and CEO Grace Cheng Braun said almost 250 seniors are enrolled in the meal program WISE & Healthy Aging’s social workers are monitoring more than 300 seniors on the Westside.
She added the nonprofit is working to move its recreational programs to Zoom and counseling programs are taking place via conference call.
“The most vulnerable in our community are the seniors, who mostly are alone at this point, so we are on deck and doing whatever we can to make sure that they are not abandoned,” Cheng Braun said.
Ferrer said Thursday that almost 1,700 people in L.A. County have been tested and about 13% of the tests have come back positive. Nearly 600 more people have been tested since Tuesday and the county is still planning to increase testing capacity, although Ferrer said people with no symptoms of respiratory illness will not be tested.
L.A. County Department of Health Services Director Christina Ghaly said Thursday that hospitals in L.A. County have 22,000 beds, 2,200 of which are ICU beds. 870 non-ICU beds and 185 ICU beds are open, she said.
The county health system has 1,500 beds, 184 of which are ICU beds. 460 non-ICU beds and 52 ICU beds are available.
Ghaly said the county and private hospitals are preparing to modify care units to meet anticipated increases in demand.