LB Resident Succumbs to COVID-19

By: 
Kirt Ramirez
Lines everywhere with 6-foot separations.

A female resident of Long Beach has died from complications of the novel coronavirus, making this the city’s first COVID-19-related death, city officials announced Monday.

In addition, eight Long Beach firefighters tested positive for COVID-19, the city announced Wednesday, with two more testing positive, it was announced Thursday.

Regarding the late resident, she was in her 50s and had underlying health conditions, city officials said.

“We’ve been dreading this day and were hoping it would never come,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a news release. “We extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and loved ones. We all mourn this incredible loss to our community.”

The case is under investigation and epidemiologists are working to identify possible exposures, according to the news release.

“This tragedy shows that COVID-19 can cause serious illness,” Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in the news release. “Now, more than ever, we need to heed the ‘Safer at Home’ order, stay at home if possible and practice social distancing. The lives of Long Beach residents depend on it.”

Regarding the eight firefighters – four of whom are Long Beach residents – they are in stable condition at home, the city said. Information on the additional two was not available by deadline Thursday.

Though the viral source remains under investigation, the eight firefighters recently worked at Fire Station 11 on Market Street, according to the city.

The Long Beach COVID-19 case count was at 54 as of Thursday.

There were 2,511 cases statewide as of Wednesday, according to statistics available through the city’s website longbeach.gov.

Symptoms of those infected with the virus have ranged from mild, managed at home, to very severe and requiring intensive care, the city said.

Nationwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on its website Thursday reported 68,440 total cases with 994 total deaths.

Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 462,684 confirmed cases on its website Thursday, with 20,834 confirmed deaths.

According to the WHO, “The 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.”

Meanwhile, to help relieve strain on local hospitals, Community Hospital Long Beach plans to partially reopen and accept transfer patients. The emergency room will not be operating during this initial opening phase and walk-ins will not be permitted.

The reopen was slated for last Saturday but was delayed.

“Right now, we are working around the clock to finalize the arrival of patients from local hospitals and to ensure that we have the necessary staffing, equipment and medical supplies to guarantee their safety and care,” Community Hospital spokesman Brandon Dowling said through email Tuesday. “We did not start accepting patients on Saturday, however we expect to start accepting transfer patients in the coming days.”

The Molina, Wu, Network (MWN), LLC, which owns and operates Community Hospital, worked with the California governor’s office and state and local officials to get the hospital up and running during the pandemic.

The reopen will add 158 hospital beds to the region, including 10 intensive care beds (ICU) and 10 ventilators, according to a news release.

And hospital ship USNS Mercy will provide 1,000 beds for non-coronavirus patients during the health crisis. Mercy’s arrival from San Diego is expected Friday. The ship will dock in Los Angeles Harbor.

“This will allow shore-based hospitals to use their ICU and ventilators for COVID-19 patients ashore,” the Navy reported on Twitter Sunday.

Mercy’s sister-ship USNS Comfort will be deployed to New York to serve the hard-hit region. New York, Washington and California have seen the most COVID-19 cases in the country and the decision was made to send the ships to California and New York, the White House coronavirus task force said during a press briefing Sunday.

In addition to large amounts of medical supplies, President Donald Trump directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to supply the three states with federal medical stations. California will get eight large stations with 2,000 beds.

The United States National Guard also will be sent to assist, at no cost to the state, Trump said during the press briefing.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence thanked the American people for their cooperation in staying at home as much as possible to help “flatten the curve” of COVID-19 cases.

To those isolated, Trump said, “No one’s alone as long as we’re united.”

In an email to Long Beach residents Tuesday, Mayor Garcia explained an amended stay at home order:

“Access is now closed to Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier, the El Dorado Nature Center and parking lots at City-owned parks and beaches through April 19 to prevent large groups of people from congregating in public spaces, in accordance with the latest clarification to the state’s ‘Stay at Home’ order and the City of Long Beach’s ‘Safer at Home’ order.

“Additionally, gatherings of any size will be prohibited citywide as part of the updated order.

“We are taking this next step because there are too many people ignoring social distancing while visiting our trails and beaches. You can still ride your bicycle, walk your dog or go for a run, but we’re encouraging folks to avoid any type of gathering and to avoid groups of people. This is a health crisis and we must act now.”

Residents may go out for essential business, such as going to work, getting groceries, visiting the bank, picking up take-out food, medications, and so on. They also can go outside to jog and exercise. But for the most part, they are expected to stay home.

Health experts have said to wash hands often for at least 20 seconds and to disinfect door knobs and hard surfaces. And avoid touching the eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

Ralphs, Trader Joe’s and other grocers have adjusted store hours and placed limits on common household items after panic-buying emptied stores in recent weeks. Seniors now get first opportunity early in the morning at many stores.

Toilet tissue, paper towels, baby wipes, hand sanitizers, bottled water, dried beans, rice, meats, breads and eggs remained scarce on various shelves Wednesday, but reportedly are plentiful at food supply warehouses.

Grocery staff was observed allowing customers entry whenever patrons exited, to prevent crowding. And staff sterilized cart handles and provided hand sanitizer or wipes.

Friends Sophana Sou and Sochi Ry stood in a long line outside the Los Altos Trader Joe’s Sunday waiting to get in. The two enjoyed each other’s company while their kids were on play dates.

“If I was by myself, I would not wait,” Sou said. “We don’t know how to handle this. This is our first pandemic.”

Ry said she couldn’t find baby wipes or toilet paper at Target.

“It’s hard for people with kids,” she said.

Regarding empty shelves, Ry said, “People are scared I guess, so they overbuy. There’s not a food shortage, it’s just people overbuying.”

With churches and Temple Israel closed, many places of worship are providing spiritual services online.

And holy water was removed from Catholic churches to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Hal McCarrel, a member of Long Beach Alliance Church on Palo Verde Avenue, said it’s important to be responsible and keep a safe distance during this time. He cited Psalm 17 verse 15 for comfort.

“As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness,” (NKJV).

kirt@beachcomber.news

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