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Coronavirus: What we know now

by Matthew Bramlett | news@claremont-courier.com and Kathryn Dunn | editor@claremont-courier.com

The city and Los Angeles County authorities continue to grapple with the novel coronavirus pandemic, with one death reported, large events canceled and citizens urged to wash their hands and practice social distancing.

The first death from the novel coronavirus in Los Angeles County occurred Monday, March 9 at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC), according to a release from the hospital.

The March 11 letter from the hospital states that a patient admitted on March 9 was later “confirmed positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).”

The patient was admitted to the hospital in full cardiac arrest, “and was immediately provided lifesaving care to stabilize her condition,” the hospital stated. The patient’s husband arrived and disclosed the patient’s travel history and additional symptoms, and the patient was immediately placed in isolation.

Samples from the patient were submitted to the public health lab for COVID-19 testing.

“Unfortunately, the patient died shortly after admission due to complications from her illness,” the letter said.

The death was first announced earlier Wednesday by Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, according to the Los Angeles Times. The patient was identified as a woman in her 60s, who was not a resident of LA County and had underlying health conditions.

The woman was staying at a residence in Walnut. A statement from the city of Walnut said the woman did not circulate around that city and stayed primarily at the residence.

Family members of the woman are currently in quarantine. Three LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies and five LA County Fire officials who came in contact with the woman on Monday have been self-quarantined, according to a statement from the Sheriff’s Department.

The hospital stated they “followed all appropriate infection control protocols and took every precaution in caring for this patient,” and has identified workers who have come into contact with the patient. They are following guidelines outlined by the LA County Department of Public Health regarding exposure of healthcare workers.

“We understand people may be feeling anxious about potential exposure to coronavirus, but we want to reassure our associates, patients and their families that the risk of exposure from this case is low,” the letter from PVHMC stated. “PVHMC remains a safe, high-quality facility to work and seek medical care.”

Overall, there have been 32 positive coronavirus cases in LA County as of Thursday afternoon, Dr. Ferrer said. These numbers are subject to increase as more testing is done.

Roughly 250 people across the county have been tested for the virus thus far—100 by LA County health officials, 27 by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and 120 by commercial testing labs. 

Dr. Ferrer urged county residents to wash their hands as often as possible, including before and after using public transportation, before and after eating, and before touching your mouth, face and nose.

If you feel sick in any way, people are urged to stay home and not be in contact in large public gatherings.

Businesses are urged to curtail any non-essential travel for their employees, Dr. Ferrer said—the less people are traveling, the less likely they will be exposed, especially if the number of cases in their destination exceed LA County’s numbers.

Meanwhile, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order on Thursday non-essential gatherings should be limited to 250 people or fewer. In a press conference Thursday morning, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a ban on all public meetings with 50 or more people.

 

Claremont takes precautions

The city of Claremont announced Wednesday evening that it is canceling events as a precaution against the coronavirus.

The city has canceled any and all events or classes involving adults 55 and over, as well as city-hosted special events with more than 100 participants through April 12, which includes Arbor Day and the Spring Celebration, according to a release from the city. Earth Day will be postponed, but the city will reassess on April 1 to see if an extended cancellation timeline is necessary.

The city is taking extra precaution when it comes to programs for its senior population. Group meal service for seniors has been cancelled, as well as all senior clubs, classes, support groups and social gatherings, the city said.

Starting on Monday, March 16, both the Joslyn Senior Center and the Blaisdell Center will be closed. Boxed lunches will be available in front of the Joslyn for Claremonters who are part of the nutrition program on Mondays and Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.—lunches for Monday and Tuesday will be available that Monday, and lunches for Wednesday and Thursday will be available on Wednesday, March 18, the city said.

All public meetings, such as city council meetings, will go on as scheduled. Those meetings are streamed live on the city’s website.

The city is urging residents to “take a moment to self-assess” to see if they are feeling well before attending a public meeting or gathering.

There are currently no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Claremont, but the total number of confirmed cases in Los Angeles County has risen to 32 as Thursday, with one death, according to the LA County Department of Public Health.

 

Claremont Colleges closed, students leaving

There are no confirmed cases at the Claremont Colleges, however, in an abundance of caution, the five undergraduate universities have cancelled all in-person classes and will move to an online format beginning March 30. They will not return until the fall.

Spring break begins March 16 for the Colleges, and will be extended a second week to allow faculty and students time to transition to an online teaching format by March 30 for all the 5Cs.

Some colleges, like Claremont McKenna, released detailed plans for the remaining semester to its faculty and students.

“Students will be required to depart campus for home or another off-campus location as soon as possible and no later than March 23,” President Hiram Chodosh said in an email.

Additionally, Mr. Chodosh said the college will extend the meal plan for students who may have cancelled spring break travel plans next week, but the dining hall will close for the semester at 5 p.m. on March 23.

“Our expectation is that all students will make arrangements to move out of their on-campus rooms and vacate campus for this academic year by that day at the latest,” he said.

Scripps President Lara Tiedens indicated the college will also move classes to an online format, but indicated the situation will be reassessed on April 18.

Pomona College said on its website students are required to leave campus by 5 p.m. on March 18 and “should not expect to return to campus this semester.” Online instruction will continue at Pomona until the end of the year.

Pitzer College President Melvin Oliver sent an encouraging note to students.

“To our students, we encourage you to rededicate yourselves to your studies. As you work remotely, please approach your courses with new energy and creativity. We are working to find ways to make the most of your Pitzer experience this semester,” he said in an email.

As of today, Keck Graduate Institute and Claremont Graduate University “will continue standard class schedules and course delivery,” as published on the KGI website.

This is a fluid situation that may change day by day or hour by hour. Check back with the COURIER for up to date information.

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