Coronavirus Emergency Continues to Change Rapidly

All local public events have been postponed and residents are asked to stay home and help stop the spread. We aren’t alone. Countries all over the world are working to cope with the Coronavirus pandemic. The World Health Organization cautions that it is going to take international cooperation to save lives and curtail the spread of this potentially deadly virus. Local measures include temporary closures of everything from schools and community centers to postponing sporting events, concerts, plays, parties, and non-essential meetings. As numbers continue to change hourly, consider the statistics in the WHO map as a snapshot.

As of March 16, when the Messenger Mountain News went to press, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide was 168, 019, with 6,610 deaths.

There were a total of 3,487 confirmed cases in the U.S., and 68 deaths. California had 335 cases; 7 deaths. Los Angeles County had 94 confirmed cases, and one death. Those numbers are expected to climb as testing becomes more widely available.

In an effort to keep transmission from continuing to expand exponentially, governments worldwide are pushing to “flatten the curve” by shutting down events, gatherings, and meetings. 

For this to work, everyone needs to actively participate in the effort by staying home as much as possible, and practicing social distancing when out in public.

President Donald Trump announced a national state of emergency on March 13, freeing up $50 billion to address the crisis, including funding for more tests. Mr. Trump, who appeared with a cadre of corporate CEOs, made the unusual move of announcing that Google will be in charge of developing a website to screen potential test candidates and determine if testing is “warranted.” 

“We don’t want everyone running out and getting tested,” Mr. Trump said, explaining that priority will be given to individuals exhibiting symptoms of the disease. It remains unclear when and where expanded testing will be available. Google released a clarification shortly after the press conference that refuted the President’s statement, countering that the triage tool was still in development and would only be tested in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding the pilot program “more broadly over time.

The president had previously announced a federal travel ban on travelers from Europe, currently the part of the world with the highest level of documented coronavirus cases. The ban  came into effect on March 13, and may be extended to other parts of the world depending on the spread of the pandemic, and nonessential travel is discouraged. 

In the U.S. the number of cases is expected to rise dramatically once testing is widely available. 

The president urged every state to open emergency operation centers. Many states, including Washington, New York and California—the three with the highest number of coronavirus cases, have already moved to declare an emergency.

California Governor Gavin Newsom declared a California state of emergency on March 4, and issued an executive order on Thursday, March 12, further extending emergency powers. 

Newsom called for the cancellation of all gatherings with 250 or more people to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Sporting events, concerts, theater productions, and classes have been cancelled or postponed throughout Los Angeles county and the state. Theme parks and museums have closed their doors. Major festivals like Coachella have been postponed, so have all theater and concert events at the Los Angeles Music Center. Disneyland shut down on March 15, announcing that the park would remain closed through the end of the month. 

The county and city of Los Angeles shut down meetings and programs earlier in the week.

In Topanga, the Topanga Community Center is shutting its doors through April 13, and all activities at the center, including classes and the Canyon Sages have been cancelled. 

L.A. County Libraries, including Topanga Library, will close all 86 locations as of March 15 through March 31, 2020. Due dates for borrowed materials will automatically be extended, no late fines will be assessed, and customers can return materials when the Library reopens. Customers are encouraged to utilize the digital resources available 24/7 including access to ebooks, audiobooks, movies and TV, digital magazines, music and more.

The city of Malibu has closed its senior center, and is postponing all non-essential meetings and programs.

The Los Angeles Unified School District announced on March 13 that all public schools in the district would close on March 16 for two weeks, while charter schools in the district had the option of staying open or closing. The LAUSD decision came shortly after the news that the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District and many local private schools would be sending students home.

LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country. To help parents and students cope with the proposed two-week closure, “family resource centers” will be opening on March 16, offering weekday services from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., including meals and a safe environment for study. Everyone entering a family resource center will have their temperature taken and be required to wash their hands in an effort to keep students and staff safe. 

At The Messenger, we have temporarily pulled our printed Calendar section. We will be updating our online calendar at M’Online on a daily basis. We will update our readers on the resumption of events as soon as the emergency has ended. There are currently no known cases of coronavirus in the immediate area, and preventing the spread remains critically important.

In his ongoing updates to his constituents regarding the pandemic, Representative Ted Lieu warns against another contagion: xenophobia.

“It is also important to remember that people should never be excluded from activities based on their race or country of origin,” he announced. “Our community prides itself on being open and diverse. In order to keep our neighbors safe, we cannot allow xenophobia or misinformation to spread.”

The update recommends that constituents follow “relevant trusted resources” to stay up to date on the latest developments in the global pandemic.

“As you may have seen, the House has passed an $8.3 billion spending measure to fund the federal government’s response to the coronavirus and to assist state and local governments,” Lieu said. “The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and the California Department of Public Health are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as local governments and health care providers. We are fortunate to have smart and dedicated health professionals monitoring and managing this illness at both local and federal levels. I urge you to continue to heed their advice and guidance as new information emerges.”

 

WHAT IS NOVEL CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)?

Coronaviruses are a large group of viruses that are common among animals and humans. In rare cases, animal coronaviruses can be transmitted from animals to humans. This coronavirus is “novel” because it is newly discovered, and had not been previously detected in animals or humans. The source of this virus is not yet known. The illness that is caused by this coronavirus is COVID-19. 

 

SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19

Symptoms are very similar to the flu, including: fever; aches, cough; and shortness of breath; and in some cases severe respiratory illness. In some cases the infection is asymptomatic, or presents mild symptoms, but it can still be spread. Older people and those with compromised immune systems remain at the highest risk of serious complications, including death. People of all ages with pre-existing conditions like asthma are also at risk. Self isolating remains the most effective way to prevent contigatation and prevent the spread of the disease.

 

WHAT CAN THE PUBLIC DO TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF COVID-19?

The California Department of Public Health recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of all respiratory viruses:

  • Avoid / Stay away from sick people;
  • Practice “social distancing,” and avoid physical contact;
  • Wash your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand cleaner;
  • Keep hands away from eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Disinfect public counters, desks, common areas, phones, keyboards, etc., using disinfectant wipes identified for use against influenza A&B and coronaviruses;
  • If you have symptoms (fever, cough, vomiting, difficulty breathing) stay home and call a doctor;
  • Remain home until you have spoken with your doctor or health provider and are cleared to return to work; and
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue and wash hands after discarding it.

 

TRUSTED RESOURCES

Look for regular local updates on the Messenger’s website, M’Online, www.messengemountainnews.com, and follow the Messenger on Instagram and Twitter  @messengermedium.

 

Suzanne Guldimann
Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at suzanne@messengermountainnews.com

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