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County reaches 9,000 deaths; Claremont has over 200 new infections

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced on Tuesday that the county had reached the grim milestone of 9,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Over the past two weeks, as cases have spiked, an average of 73 people die from the coronavirus everyday, and the numbers just keep climbing.

Last Tuesday there were 4,403 people hospitalized with COVID-19 but by this Tuesday that number had risen to 5,886. The hospitalization rate has nearly doubled in two weeks.

To date, public health has identified 647,542 cumulative cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and 9,016 deaths. On Tuesday, public health confirmed 88 deaths and 12,954 new cases.

In the last week there have been 207 new infections in Claremont, bringing our cumulative total to 1,206 cases. Sadly one more Claremont resident has died bringing the total to 19.

After remaining infection free for most of the pandemic Pilgrim Place is now reporting two outbreaks with three staff members and five residents at its health services center testing positive and 13 staff and 11 residents with the virus in the assisted living unit. Fortunately skilled nursing centers, like those at Pilgrim Place, will be receiving the coronavirus vaccine in the second tier of distribution which could begin this week.

Other institutional outbreaks include: ANM Aurora Care Home with Nine staff members and four residents testing positive; California Manor Retirement Community with eight staff and one resident; Claremont Place Assisted Living with seven staff, 10 residents and one death; Genesis Manor 5 with two staff and three residents; Oak Park Manor with nine staff, 15 residents and one death; Sunrise of Claremont with eight staff and one resident.

Four Claremont restaurants, Heroes & Legends Bar & Grill, the Village Grille, El Ranchero Mexican Restaurant and Espiau’s, were issued citations on December 13 due to lack of compliance with the health officer order.

Authorities are warning that news of the coronavirus vaccine becoming available to the public has inspired a new type of scam where callers may offer to sell the inoculation or offer a chance to “jump the line” and get the shot early.

Public health states that the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in a fair and transparent manner and health care workers and those in long term care facilities are the only ones receiving the inoculation right now. The vaccine will be given to residents at no cost and regardless of one’s immigration status.

Last Thursday Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center began administering the Pfizer BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine to its “frontline healthcare heroes.”

The hospital will continue to administer vaccines to associates and physicians in phase 1A, in accordance with the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccines. PVHMC anticipates that it will be able to provide vaccines to all of its healthcare workers who wish to receive it by the end of January. As of Tuesday, more than 1,800 hospital employees have received the COVID-19 vaccination. 

“It was a proud and historic moment to witness our first associates receive this long-awaited vaccine,” said Vice President of Nursing and Patient Care Services Darlene Scafiddi, RN, MSN. “We are hopeful that this vaccine is the beginning of the end of this pandemic. Until then, we are grateful that the vaccine will provide added protection to our frontline staff, who are tirelessly providing care to our patients.”

The first healthcare worker to receive the vaccine at Pomona Valley was Respiratory Care Practitioner Anna Gibson.

“I think everybody should be getting this and take care of each other,” said Ms. Gibson, who works in the COVID-19 units. “It’s not so much about us, it’s about other people as well. If we can cure the world and get everybody back to normal life, I’m all for it.”

PVHMC has further expanded its intensive care unit capacity and staffing in the past week to accommodate rising numbers of COVID-19 patients.

“We understand there are concerns in our community about intensive care unit capacity at hospitals in the region, but we continue to effectively manage our capacity. Please do not delay care if you are experiencing a medical emergency, including severe symptoms of COVID-19,” hospital officials said in a statement.

The University of Southern California’s Center for Social and Economic Research continues to conduct a weekly representative survey with L.A. County residents about their actions throughout the pandemic. Thirty percent of survey respondents indicated they visited a friend, neighbor or relative, and thirty percent indicated they had visitors at their residence.

If the survey is representative of L.A. County overall then roughly 3,000,000 residents are not following the safety guidance that directs us to not gather with people outside our immediate household. Being in close physical distance with non-household members, especially when unmasked and not distanced, increases risk and contributes to easy spread of the virus.

The ever increasing number of new infections and people hospitalized, which public health officials have connected to gatherings over the Thanksgiving holiday, makes it even more crucial that every resident abide by the health order during the upcoming Christmas and New Year celebrations.

“Compliance with public health safety measures is essential to preserve our healthcare system and save lives,” public health officials said in a statement

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