COVID Update: Sunday, June 6

Former Councilmember John Duran has been doing daily COVID updates on his Facebook page since March 2020. Many members of the community have found them helpful. They are republished here with his permission.

LA County Cases1,246,821(up from 1,246,619)
LA County Deaths24,421(up from 24,416)
LA Positivity Rate.4%(unchanged at .4%)
LA Hospitalizations216(up from 218)

285 new COVID cases in LA County announced yesterday along with 15 additional deaths. Positivity rate remains low at .004 and hospitalizations increase slightly.

DR. BARBARA FERRER – BOUQUETS OR BRICKBATS?

The front page of the LA Times has a nice feature story on LA County’s public health officer Dr. Barbara Ferrer. Love her or hate her? Grateful for her or frustrated by her? Did she do enough or do too much?

Eventually over time – history will be the judge of her work and how LA County fared during the pandemic. I KNOW it wasn’t easy for her being responsible for the most populous county in the USA with 10 million people. We have more people in our one county than almost half of the States in the US.

Business owners criticized her. Preachers called her out for being a hand of the devil. Politicians pressured her to loosen the restrictions or hid behind her edicts. Social media was constantly lit up with name calling and threats against her.

But the 65 year old public health officer didn’t blink. She didn’t quit. She persevered. She stayed in the cyclone.

That takes guts. I admire and respect that.

But it does raise the question of whether one county health department should have so much power and influence over our lives. What may be best suited for West Covina may not apply to West Hollywood. What may works with homeless populations downtown may not work for trans homeless people in Hollywood. What works in clinics near Hancock Park may not translate to Huntington Park.

LA County is home to 88 cities. So many diverse communities with their own culture and traditions. If you want equities to exist with more individual tailor – then you may have to surrender central control away from the 5 LA County Supervisors and their public health officer.

I don’t fault Dr. Ferrer. I think she did the best anyone could under extreme circumstances and pressures. The problem was not with the individual empowered to run the show. The problem was systemic with a county health department which is better equipped to handle the routine public health challenges like STI’s or HIV (although that wasn’t always true when we AIDS activists challenged them). The system was not cut out to handle a roaring contagion that cut down 24,000+ lives here in LA County in just 15 months.

The City of Los Angeles is talking about breaking off and starting its own health department. West Hollywood should be (although they are not) talking with Beverly Hills and Culver City about forming a tri City effort. But the smaller cities will never be able to afford the price tag of starting their own health departments with their own labs, testing sites and staff.

The pandemic taught us all how to innovate. Cities should not be an exception. In this age of zoom calls, remote working, contracting out services – there WOULD be way for the smaller cities to band together and share resources to create and execute policies and practices that best serve their residents.

Rather than try to ensure that everyone gets an equal share of the pie – pass the ingredients down to the local level and allow the smaller cities to create their own kitchens to address these issues. It doesn’t have to mean that cities hire more staff (and more pensions) which would bankrupt their coffers. It would mean creating systems contracting with existing non profit organizations and private sector laboratories to create new networks for the delivery of service. We learned this lesson the hard way when West Hollywood was first incorporated.

So I am not here to level criticism at Dr. Ferrer. Instead I wish to thank her for leading us through a period of time unimaginable. And she did it with dignity and grace. And made the best decisions possible with the information we had at hand and was constantly changing.

But if we decide to do nothing to address the inefficiences revealed by COVID 19 – we will not be better prepared or equipped for the next deadly pathogen that may be on the horizon. There are lessons we gathered from HIV. There are lessons being learned from COVID 19. Don’t ignore. Reboot, reform and renovate……

Another sunny and warm 75 degree in LA today. Enjoy Sunday!

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