Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Omicron surge bypasses 800 police, firefighters in Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES (AP) – A dramatic rise in coronavirus cases has sidelined more than 800 police and firefighters in downtown Los Angeles, adding to concerns about shortages of critical staff, including health care workers, ambulances and firefighters. Slightly longer response time.

More than 500 LAPD officers and other police personnel and about 300 firefighters were off-duty after testing positive for COVID-19, Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Thursday, though he said it was time to ensure the safety of the public. Measures were being taken.

“It’s an incredibly difficult moment,” Garcetti said. “The Omicron version has flown like wildfire.”

Hospitals are facing a crisis due to increasing cases in the most populous state of the country. State officials on Wednesday extended an indoor mask mandate to mid-February as the Omicron version also bypasses health care workers, leading to hospital staff shortages that could become a major problem.

“We are concerned about our hospitals and will continue to be,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Galley. “Some features are going to be lacking.”

Public health officials across the state have advised residents to avoid going to emergency rooms for COVID-19 tests or treatment, which can be handled by a family doctor, telemedicine or urgent care clinics.

California’s confirmed cases have risen nearly 500 percent over the past two weeks and hospitalizations have doubled since Christmas to more than 8,000. State models predict hospitalizations could top 20,000 by early next month, nearly as high as last January’s level, when California experienced its worst-ever surge of fatalities.

California had the lowest per capita case rate in the US in September, but like the rest of the country, it is now experiencing a dramatic increase from the new version. It now ranks 29th in new cases per capita in the last two weeks.

Chief Ralph Terrazas said firefighters in the City of Los Angeles were working voluntary overtime shifts and others were being forced to remain on duty. He also planned to cancel the sanctioned holidays.

Terrajas said some fire engines and ambulances were out of service for 24 hours due to the absence, but all firehouses remained open. Ambulance response time has slowed to 13 seconds from a year ago and call of fire is six seconds slower.

Read more: Grammy Awards Ceremony Postponed, O’Micron Citing COVID Version Risk

Police Chief Michelle Moore said it was taking an average of three weeks for officers suffering from COVID-19 to return to work, but they have yet to force others to stay on task to meet demand.

“That lever is still in front of us,” he said. “I would not suggest to you that we would like to endure the current shortage of personnel for months. …we see this as a surge that will happen, this is our hope and belief, is short-lived.”

The Los Angeles County Fire Department, which is separate from the city department, has 450 firefighters absent after testing positive, Acting Assistant Chief Brian Bennett told Carson City Council on Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.

Dan Lynch, the county’s director of emergency medical services, said that in Fresno County, more than 300 workers at field hospitals were recovering from COVID-19 or isolated because of exposure to the virus. Ambulance personnel will likely be asked to assess patients and only take people with genuine emergencies to ER departments.

The January 31 Grammy Awards in Los Angeles were postponed indefinitely on Wednesday due to health and safety concerns, and the NFL said it was exploring alternative sites for next month’s Super Bowl in LA .

While the league gets back-up venues every year, it could come into play if there are attendance restrictions, although Garcetti said he doubts it will be moved.

“I believe it will happen here and we will be able to have a great Super Bowl celebration,” he said.

Gali encouraged unvaccinated people to get the vaccine and others to get a booster shot if they haven’t already, to prevent or reduce the effects of the infection. Vaccines and therapeutics to treat COVID-19 are all part of an approach largely absent a year ago and there is no discussion of further restrictions, he said.

Los Angeles said it would begin requiring employers to lock employees indoors with medical grade masks by January 17.

Associated Press journalists Jocelyn Gecker and Jenny Haar in San Francisco contributed to this report

Nation World News Desk
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