By Keith Hobbs
Special to Outlook Valley Sun
As businesses and public spaces in Los Angeles County gradually reopened over the last few weeks, the data surrounding COVID-19 infection is showing some concerning trends. Last week, after several weeks of decline, L.A. County saw an uptick in not only the absolute number of positive cases, but also in the percentage of positive results. Some are attributing the increase in cases to more testing. However, the increased percentage of those tests that are positive indicates that COVID-19 is spreading more quickly in the community. The data also shows that the average age of those testing positive is trending younger than before re-opening.
While hospitalization for COVID-19 across the county is also again on the rise, the capacity in intensive care units and the supply of ventilators remains stable for the time being. We at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital remain prepared to care for any members of our community who may require hospitalization for complications arising from COVID-19.
Our five-phased surge plan allows us to quickly and effectively establish units exclusively dedicated to COVID-19 patients, increase ICU and ventilator capacity and conduct on-site testing. In March, we established and continue to maintain a separate Emergency Department triage area for patients who present with COVID-19-related symptoms while also safely caring for our local community members who will continue to have emergent, non-COVID-19 health-care needs. We have also established a seamless transfer process to Keck Hospital of USC for any COVID-19 patients requiring higher levels of care.
Since the beginning of this crisis, our hospital has expertly and compassionately cared for nearly 200 hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19. For as long as this crisis is with us, we will be on stand-by for our community.
Despite reopenings, the best protection against the coronavirus continues to be adherence to simple prevention. These preventative measures include frequent hand washing/sanitizing, self-isolating when you are sick, practicing physical distancing, and wearing a clean face covering when in contact with others from outside your household. We may be “done” with and tired of COVID-19, but it is not done with us. We must be vigilant in order to protect ourselves and others.
Keith Hobbs is the CEO at USC Verdugo Hills Hospital.