COVID-19 Cases on the Rise Locally, Nationally

By Zand Hill and Christian Leonard
Glendale News-Press

Glendale reached a dubious milestone this week as health officials sounded the alarm again on the apparently uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus that has left the nation reeling.
The number of city residents who have tested positive for the disease since March rose to 5,068, one of the highest totals among suburban Los Angeles municipalities. As of Friday, at least 186 Glendale residents have succumbed to the disease. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials reported this week that since Oct. 3, the test positivity rate for COVID-19 has risen from 3.6% to 5.9% countywide.
This week there were around 103 intensive care unit beds available countywide, as hospitalizations for the disease again are rising. This week there were 953 hospitalized patients — 28% of whom were in ICUs — after the county reached a low of 682 hospitalized patients on Oct. 3.

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Doctors’ Big Care Package Helps the Healing in Armenia

Photo courtesy USC-VHH
Packing and shipping a 7,500-pound piece of equipment proved challenging for local physicians who sent a CT scanner to Armenia to help surgeons whose patients sustained shrapnel wounds in the war with Azerbaijan.

It all started with the recollection of a quote.
When Dr. Armand Dorian, chief medical officer at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, saw news reports in September that war involving his ancestral home of Armenia had resumed, he was drawn back to a famous statement by cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has,” Dorian said in an interview, reciting Mead’s words.
His recall of the remark prompted him to get on the phone, and a few calls later, Dorian said, he knew what he had to do. Armenia’s ministry of health reported that chief among the nation’s needs was a CT scanner, largely for use in surgeries on people with shrapnel wounds as a result of the fighting between Armenian forces in the breakaway state Artsakh against Azerbaijani forces aiming to reassert control of the region.
So he got to work.

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District to Reopen Schools for Youngest Students

Nearly eight months after shuttering its campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the La Cañada Unified School District is ready to reopen its doors to young learners after getting the green light from Los Angeles County.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette notified parents late last week that county officials granted the district waivers that allow students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade to return to campus for limited in-person instruction. La Cañada, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools are set to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 17.
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Cameras Help Net Local Arrests

Photo courtesy Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station
Deputies from the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station apprehended two suspected car thieves in La Cañada Flintridge this week, thanks in large part to alerts from the city’s recently installed Flock Safety cameras.

Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station deputies arrested two suspects in the theft of a car and recovered the vehicle on Tuesday afternoon with the help of the city’s recently installed license plate-reading devices, known as Flock Safety Security cameras, which alert law enforcement to previously flagged vehicles.
At about 1:20 p.m., deputies were informed about a stolen white Nissan Sentra in the La Cañada Flintridge area, officials said, and Deputy Gregory Afsharian spotted the vehicle near Gould Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. He conducted a traffic stop as the car entered the Trader Joe’s shopping center.
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Flu Shots More Important This Year, Health Experts Say

Photo courtesy USC-VHH
A local resident gets a flu shot during a recent drive-thru event at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. Experts are strongly urging people to get flu shots this year, especially because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, especially, is the time to make sure you get your flu shot, according to local experts.
It’s not likely that you’ll find a doctor who won’t urge a patient to get an annual flu shot in a normal year, mind you. However, the world has even more reason to keep hospital beds open at the moment because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Any way that we can prevent any kind of respiratory illness is important,” said Patricia Sung, manager of infection prevention at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital. “Even under normal circumstances, it’s pretty important to get the flu shot.”
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LCHS Graduate Recalls Recent Stint With Alex Trebek, ‘Jeopardy!’

Photo courtesy Christina Tang-Bernas
Former La Cañada High School graduate Christina Tang-Bernas recently debuted on “Jeopardy!” with longtime game show host Alex Trebek, who died on Sunday.

As “Jeopardy!” fans around the world mourned the loss of the show’s longtime host Alex Trebek this week, La Cañada High School alumna Christina Tang-Bernas felt a particularly strange pang.
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Kiwanis Club Installs Officers and Directors

The Kiwanis Club of La Cañada recently held its 71st annual installation via Zoom in celebration of incoming 2020-21 officers and directors, as the gavel was virtually passed to new President Dennis Fors from Immediate Past President Michael Freed.
Club board member Michael Leininger served as master of ceremonies at an event attended by nearly 50 members and guests at which past officers and directors were congratulated for their work.
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Challengers Lead in Council, School Board Races

Anthony Surges, Second City Seat Contested

Days after the election, Konstantine Anthony and Nick Schultz continued late this week to be the front-runners for two seats on the Burbank City Council, though Tamala Takahashi added suspense to the race by hovering in third place.
Anthony’s expected presence on the council would be only the latest development in his complicated relationship with the city: If he clinches victory, the disability services provider will have gone from suing Burbank this year to joining its lead panel in December.
As of the most recent update from Los Angeles County on Thursday evening, Anthony had 15,222 votes, or 20.7% of the total of votes counted, while Schultz had 11,328 votes, or 15.4%. If their leads hold, the two will sit on the council for the next four years.
Takahashi was not far behind, however, nabbing 10,862 votes, or 14.77%, in the Tuesday election in which eight candidates vied.

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Return to On-Campus Learning Appears in Jeopardy

A recent surge of new COVID-19 cases around the nation has Burbank Unified School District officials coming to grips with the possibility that the majority of its students will not be allowed to return to campus for in-person instruction this academic year.
The district recently committed to distance learning through the remainder of the first semester and staff members have been refining a hybrid model that would bring back students at a limited capacity.
However, a current trend in coronavirus cases had the board of education questioning whether it is best to continue working on a hybrid schedule or shift the focus to enhancing the distance learning experience.
In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ranking system, Los Angeles County remains in Tier 1, a classification that indicates a widespread risk of COVID-19 infection and keeps schools closed. The county would have to meet the next tier’s thresholds for two weeks to move into Tier 2, which indicates substantial risk of infection.

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Book Drive Honoring ‘Evie’ Benefits Young Patients

Photos courtesy Meredith Swierczynski
An annual book drive is being held in memory of Evelyn “Evie” Swierczynski, a Burbank High School student who died of leukemia in 2018. Reading, which was one of her joys, became especially important when she was a patient at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, whose Literally Healing program provided her with books while she underwent treatment.

Evelyn “Evie” Swierczynski loved to read.
Wendy Vargas, assistant principal at John Muir Middle School, where Evie attended 8th grade, said she always had a book in her hand. Her mother, Meredith, said she often had a stack of tomes nearby.
Evie still loved books when she was at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, having been diagnosed with leukemia just after finishing her freshman year at Burbank High School, where she was in the theater program, in 2018. Even when the chemotherapy made concentrating on reading hard, Meredith Swierczynski said, she and the rest of the family appreciated having them.
Staff members and volunteers with the hospital’s Child Life program would bring Evie DVDs, games and crafts, while the CHLA Literally Healing program provided a new book every day. The latter was a particularly encouraging initiative, Swierczynski said in a phone interview. When Evie was in treatment and couldn’t leave her room on some days, a volunteer could come in wearing a gown and gloves and offer her a book.

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