Coronavirus In LB

By: 
Kirt Ramirez
WHEN A PASSENGER on the Carnival Panorama became ill, everyone aboard the vessel last Sunday had to stay on board until testing later revealed the passenger did not have the virus.

With cases of coronavirus spreading and the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring a global pandemic Wednesday, Long Beach is not immune to the problem – figuratively and literally.

Four cases of the disease – known specifically as COVID-19 – were found in the city as of Thursday, city officials have said. In addition, 70 people are being monitored.

Two men and one woman were determined through lab testing to test positive for the disease, the city announced Monday. An additional man who had “traveled to an international area of community transmission” also tested positive, the city said Wednesday.

Results are considered presumptive until confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Regarding the three earlier cases, one person is hospitalized in stable condition and the other two are self-quarantined at home.

“Two people had traveled on a Nile cruise and the other person had traveled to a location in Northern California that has community spread,” Long Beach Public Affairs Specialist Jennifer Rice Epstein said through email.

The city would not disclose the areas or districts in which the patients live, citing patient privacy.

“Today, we have quickly transitioned from preparing for a case to now implementing containment efforts should there be additional individuals who test positive for COVID-19 in Long Beach,” City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said Monday.

“The emergency declarations that we announced earlier this week continue to assist us with the resources we need to respond to this for our community,” she added.

Efforts are underway to identify anyone who came in contact with the patients and follow-up with them to minimize the spread of the disease, the city said.

Mayor Robert Garcia said Monday, “These preliminary test results, and our response and coordination with public health and safety officials are being taken extremely seriously. We strongly believe that COVID-19 is a threat to public health here in Long Beach and throughout the United States.”

The Health Department urges individuals to tell their healthcare providers about any recent travel to affected areas if they develop COVID-19 symptoms such as fever or respiratory symptoms.

Meanwhile, 10 Cal State Long Beach students are under self-quarantine as a precaution after returning home from a conference where three people tested positive for the virus in Washington D.C., the media reported.

And after a passenger on the Carnival Panorama cruise ship became ill, everyone aboard the Long Beach Harbor-docked vessel last Sunday had to stay on board until testing later revealed the passenger did not have the virus, the media reported.

Coronavirus can be especially dangerous to the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions.

As of Thursday, the CDC reported 1,215 COVID-19 cases in the United States with 36 deaths.

Worldwide as of Thursday, the WHO reported 125,048 confirmed cases with 4,613 deaths.

Dr. Davis and her team discussed coronavirus symptoms through email.

Some symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those of the flu and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • People may experience more severe illness compared to the seasonal flu, particularly those at high risk.
  • Older adults and persons who have severe chronic medical conditions seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness.
  • Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness.
  • This may be because as people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection.
  • Many older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness.
  • Regarding test kits and how to get tested, the health department answered:
  • Currently anyone who has been to an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone sick with COVID-19 in the last 14 days, AND who develops COVID-19 symptoms, should call (not visit) their healthcare provider, and tell them about symptoms and potential exposure.
  • Department of Health and Human Services and the healthcare provider will work together to initiate additional screening and collect a specimen if indicated.
  • Thresholds for testing are currently for the most vulnerable, but that will change once commercial labs start doing more testing – which is anticipated within (this week) – and public health lab capacity continues to grow.
  • People who are ill should call their doctor to rule out other possibilities such as the flu or other virus. If the medical provider believes the person meets the medical criteria for COVID-19, they contact the health department to test.

Asked if residents should stock up on supplies, the health department answered:

“Households should always be prepared in the case of a natural disaster. Ready.gov has a great list of useful emergency supplies. Threat of local transmission of COVID-19 does not necessitate additional preparation beyond standard emergency preparedness.”

The health department says Long Beach is prepared for an outbreak:

  • The City of Long Beach is prepared and continues to prepare for an outbreak situation.
  • The City of Long Beach continues to monitor the situation 24/7 in coordination with local, state and federal officials.
  • We are working collaboratively across city agencies, hospitals and medical providers, schools and post-secondary educational providers, and businesses to implement enhanced safety measures and to keep the public informed of preventive measures to limit the spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the most recently discovered virus of the coronavirus family of viruses.

The WHO reports: “This new virus and disease were unknown before the outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.”

COVID-19 is short for coronavirus disease 2019.

The WHO explains: “Most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

“These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment.

“Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”

kirt@beachcomber.news

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