By LILY TINOCO | Reporter
As the number of coronavirus disease 2019, formally COVID-19, cases increase around the world and across the United States, Palisadians are preparing—but not panicking.
COVID-19 refers to a new strain of coronavirus that “has not been previously identified in humans,” according to the World Health Organization. The virus attacks the immune system, prompting illnesses and symptoms, from the common cold to severe respiratory infections.
An email from Palisades Charter High School’s Principal Pamela Magee on March 5 asked students and school employees with ill health to stay home. The email stated that “there will be no disciplinary action taken for absences related to illness for students or employees.”
Additionally, portable washing stations are being placed on campus to make hand washing accessible, and the administration is discussing what steps to take in case the school closes temporarily.
“The most important thing we can do at this time to help prevent the spread of the virus is to practice good hygiene, including washing your hands regularly with soap and water for about 20 seconds,” LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner wrote in an email to parents and students.
Beutner explained that twice a day, the district has a call with health experts from the county to ask for updates about the number of cases, if any of the cases have a connection to the school community and if it’s appropriate for Los Angeles Unified schools to be on a normal schedule.
Palisades stores’ supplies are also being affected by COVID-19: An employee at Palisades Compounding Pharmacy reported they are all out of facial masks, with a new shipment of hand sanitizer expected to arrive Thursday, while Ralphs reported a shortage as well.
Within LA County, there have been reports of long lines and shortages of supplies, from toilet paper to sanitizing wipes, at stores like Costco and Target.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the county was reported on January 26. By Wednesday, March 4, the Los Angeles Department of Public Health declared a local and public health emergency as more cases arose.
“With these new cases, we still do not have any known public exposures,” LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a press conference, “but we have identified a list of close contacts, families, friends, health care workers that are all being interviewed and, as appropriate, they too will be subject to quarantine for up to 14 days.”
The county’s total number of confirmed cases was 20 as the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday.
Ferrer added that individuals should be regularly practicing actions that limit spread.
“Even if I don’t know whether I am affected, I need to practice my social distancing, I need to wash my hands often, I need to stay home when I’m sick,” Ferrer said.
If concerned, Ferrer advised the community to speak with their healthcare provider to find out if their symptoms and exposure history make them a likely candidate for contracting COVID-19.
Dr. Damon Raskin commented to the Post that his office in the Palisades now offers testing and is working with Quest Diagnostics.
According to the County of LA Public Health Department, there is no immediate threat to the general public at this time.
This is a developing story. Visit palipost.com for more information about Palisades updates as they become available.