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Expired PPE, staff shortage, English-only outreach: COVID-19 support with Orange County issues | Nation / World

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Santa Ana, CA — When the COVID-19 case began to occur in Southern California in early 2020, a message to Congressman Michelsteel’s members was optimistic that Orange County could avoid the outbreak. It was full.

“We can do anything we can to get rid of the Orange County coronavirus,” Steele, then chair of the county’s supervisory board, said in late February. In less than a month, the county identified the first COVID-19 infection from the spread of the community. In 15 months, the virus infected more than 254,000 people and killed more than 5,000 in Orange County alone.

A grand jury study by Orange County shows that Steel wasn’t the only one who thought it was possible to stop the uptrend in the pandemic. According to a report released last week, county officials have underestimated the threat of a pandemic for years, classifying it as a possible disaster or terrorist act at the San Onofre nuclear power plant. According to the report, the idea has responded by hindering outreach activities to the affected communities and hindering access to tests and vaccines.

This is a problem that has plagued California and other jurisdictions in the United States as the COVID-19 infection gained momentum and the region struggled to adjust for response difficulties. However, Orange County stands out because of the clear role played by some of its politicians and inhabitants to counter the stringent restrictions aimed at delaying the spread of the coronavirus.

Orange County soon became a suspicious link to COVID-19 in 2020.

Most Orange County beaches remained open when Los Angeles County closed the beaches to implement social distance guidelines. When Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom ordered the county’s coastline to be closed in April, a torrent of criticism from conservative elected officials was unleashed after a photo showing a crowd of beachmen was circulated. It was done.

A mob of protesters shouted to politicians during a county meeting when Orange County imposed a mask order in June. Vaccine hesitarian crusade Lee Dundas published the personal history and home address of county health officer Nicole Quick during a supervisory board meeting, followed by a banner depicting Quick as Adolf Hitler. I brought it to the doctor’s house. She resigned within a few days.

A few months later, when the state issued a curfew at 10 pm to stop the coronavirus infection, protesters claiming to be a “curfew” would regain freedom from Sacramento liberals. As we gathered near Huntington Beach Pier.

The county has 90 days to respond to the grand jury report. Oversight Chairman Andrew Doe called the report too broad and said it did not take into account the circumstances faced by the authorities when the virus struck.

“I’m having a bit of a problem with that, to the extent I come across it as a criticism. Looking back a year later, it’s more than a quarterbacking from Monday to morning,” Do said. “It’s not enough to put what everyone knows in the right context. It was that the world fainted at that moment because we had a thousand concerns.”

Andrew Neumer, an epidemiologist and associate professor of public health at the University of California, Irvine, said it was not surprising that the severity of COVID-19 surprised people. Pandemics over the last 100 years, including the latest H1N1 “swine flu” in 2009, were inferior to the 1918 Spanish flu and the deaths of more than 589,000 people in the United States and the infected COVID-19. Over 33 million. In California, more than 3.7 million people have been infected and more than 62,000 have died from the disease.

“The fact that the recent pandemic was such a damp squib really didn’t prepare people (for COVID-19),” Neumer said. “I took a lot of air from the balloon.”

After Newsom declared a state of emergency, Orange County continued to hesitate to fully commit to the restrictions inherited from the state. Despite the opposition to such restrictions, fewer people in Orange County were infected and died compared to Los Angeles County, which adopted the COVID-19 regulation early.

Compared to Orange County, LA is much more urbanized and has a larger population of key workers who are unable to work from home. More than 1.2 million people were infected with COVID-19 in LA County and more than 24,000 died.

Still, Grand Jury Orange County warned that future pandemics would pose significant challenges if the issue was not currently addressed locally. Scientists warn that other pandemics may be imminent.

Neumer agrees that the aftermath of COVID-19 is a great opportunity to explain what was successful when the government deployed its emergency program and where the speed surged. Orange County has taken that step publicly for the first time in the region.

When faced with increased response to the coronavirus in early 2020, Orange County officials were caught with slightly flat feet, the report said. They underestimated the requirements for communicating with the general public and lacked established relationships with community groups in hard-to-reach areas. This was a challenge to educate the inhabitants of the affected cities and hindered access to testing and subsequent vaccines.

In addition, 19 grand juries said that some of the county’s personal protective equipment stockpile had expired when the pandemic occurred, and its durable medical equipment was not maintained and required major repairs. Said that.

In addition, the Orange County Healthcare Agency was understaffed. The situation, as the grand jury says, chose not to hire more people, but to hire employees from other departments and train them to support COVID-19 when faced with a shortage.

But Orange County wasn’t the only one in Southern California to have a hard time adapting to the reality of the rapidly spreading virus. The shortage of trained staff was a major obstacle for counties throughout the region, officials said.

In San Bernardino County, authorities quickly learned that pandemic demands required more effort than the public health sector could handle. They used it to support other county departments, including libraries and public defender offices.

“Usually there are a few people in the county doing it when it comes to enforcing health orders. If you suddenly have these drastic state orders to shut down your business and start a large test program, There is no way for existing staff to do that, “county spokesman David Wort said.

Medical staff in Los Angeles County also find it burdensome to maintain a large response for over a year. For months, staff did not take vacations, and some did not. This is partly because the county has a limited number of people with the level of expertise needed to manage such a large-scale response, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of public health at LA County. Continued in the department.

“If there are any positives that may arise, the public health department needs to have better staff in the first place so that they can actually respond appropriately in the event of these emergencies. I think you’re aware, “Feller said.

The grand jury also warned Orange County that it was unable to quickly translate information about the deadly coronavirus, including test resources, into languages ​​other than English. A grand jury report reports that nearly half of the county’s 3.2 million inhabitants speak languages ​​other than English, but information about the test site was untranslated for most of 2020.

“This limited Orange County Healthcare Agency effectively communicates with all residents, especially at Orange County hotspots, and contributes to the spread of COVID-19,” the report said.

Supervisor Katrina Foley, who was the mayor of Costa Mesa when the pandemic began, experienced a direct reaction from the county she said was useless. It was clear that city-specific information was difficult to obtain and that medical institutions did not have the necessary funds and resources, she said.

“I think we’ve made a lot of progress in the last couple of months, but it’s clear that our medical facility wasn’t well staffed and ready to deal with this kind of crisis.” She said. “We have to do a better job for the future.

“The federal response to the pandemic was certainly not appropriate, and initially the county response reflected the federal response,” Foley added. “It has delayed our ability to prevent people from spreading the virus, and we have been catching up ever since.”

(C) 2021 Los Angeles Times

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.

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