Keep Your Distance: City Sees Spike in Virus Cases

Officials are urging caution and adherence to policies meant to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as, weeks after California began reopening and mass protests began forming across the county, there has been a spike in reported cases of the virus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has largely taken direct initiative to reverse an easing of restrictive policies that counties were mostly left to enact at the start of the pandemic in March. This week, he ordered a flurry of counties, including Los Angeles County, to bar indoor sit-down service at restaurants, shut down bars altogether and, ahead of the holiday weekend, close down beaches.
The county’s overall numbers of daily new confirmed cases have steadily risen in recent weeks, Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas told the City Council this week, and although Glendale itself experienced seven spikes of greater than 20 new daily cases during June — four of which were greater than 30 — its seven-day average only crossed north of 20 once.
“That 20 number is a number that I feel is one that would keep us on a flattening-type curve,” Lanzas said Tuesday. “However, the cases across the county are troubling, and therefore the county and state have taken action to reverse some of the openings that have happened.”
As of press deadline this week, Glendale has had a total of 1,455 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its residents, of whom 108 have died from the illness. Roughly half of those deaths are associated with skilled nursing facilities in Glendale, although the county’s data does not make it clear how many of those associated deaths are among residents or staff members.
In unincorporated La Crescenta-Montrose, the county has listed 57 confirmed cases and one death among residents.
County health officials have in recent days renewed an early-in-the-pandemic fear that hospitals may become overwhelmed with patients requiring intensive care as daily new cases approach 3,000. As of this week, Glendale Memorial Hospital had roughly half of its regular and ICU beds full, Glendale Adventist Hospital was around 60% full, and USC Verdugo Hills Hospitals had around a third of its ICU beds occupied and two-thirds of regular beds occupied.
“They have seen a bit of an uptick, but are still in pretty good shape,” the fire chief said.
Lanzas also explained that crowdsourced social media data indicated that the first weekend that bars were opened for business, half a million people visited L.A. nightlife spots. To exacerbate matters, random health inspections throughout the county indicated that a majority of bars and restaurants were not adhering to social distancing or hygiene regulations.
The age ranges of those bar-goers and those fueling the case spike largely overlap, Lanzas pointed out.
“Between 18 and 34 years old is where we’re seeing the most new positive cases,” he said. “What that means is that the hospitals believe that the delay in those individuals becoming more sick and needing hospitalization is longer than the elderly community. We’re seeing an increase in those younger people become positive but not necessarily be hospitalized at the same rate we were seeing the older generation.”
This is, of course, on top of the countless who have gathered and marched in protests throughout June in response to the death of George Floyd, an event that has sparked a nationwide movement that has in many cases defied the social distancing urged since the pandemic was declared in March.
At Glendale’s such march, which involved more than 1,500 people, virtually all of the crowd was wearing some sort of face covering, which are credited with helping to minimize the spread of aerosolized droplets by those who have the virus — knowingly or not.
The city this week renewed its face covering mandate for those out in public, a regulation Newsom had already implemented anyway. That and maintaining a distance of 6 feet from others while out in public, are credited with being the best ways to protect yourself from possible infection if you must venture out.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” Lanzas said. “The reopening must be done with responsibility. We must continue social distancing. We must remain wearing masks. If it’s an outing for a purpose that can be avoided, it should be avoided.”

Leave a Reply