California Sees Stepped Up Rules, Eyes Possible Virus Surge
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Californians endured a weekend of stepped-up restrictions aimed at keeping them home as much as possible while health officials got ready for a week with a possible dramatic surge in coronavirus cases.
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The mayor of the nation's second-largest city warned that families should prepare for isolating themselves at home in ways that will not infect others in their households.
Anticipating a surge in COVID-19 cases that may overwhelm healthcare systems, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged people who test positive not to rush to hospitals unless they have serious symptoms.
Instead, he asked the city's 4 million residents to think about how to separate themselves from family members while quarantining at home.
“Don’t just take social distancing seriously, I hope each and every one of us take isolation seriously too,” Garcetti said Sunday.
He acknowledged that physical distancing may be hard for those in tight quarters and said officials were working to set up quarantine spaces for them.
National Guard troops set up beds in the sprawling Los Angeles Convention Center, converting it from a site that normally hosts meetings, trade shows and exhibitions into a field hospital.
The U.S. Navy hospital ship Mercy received its first patients Sunday after docking at the Port of Los Angeles, where it is intended to ease pressure on hospitals by taking in people with non-COVID-19 ailments.
Testing among the state's 40 million residents has stepped up significantly after a slow start. Officials have warned the increase will reveal an expanding number of cases. A Sunday evening tally by Johns Hopkins University found more than 6,200 cases statewide and at least 130 deaths.
California was stocking up on ventilators and fixing outdated models in anticipation of shortages. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Saturday the federal government sent 170 broken ventilators from a national stockpile. Engineers at Bloom Energy, a fuel cell maker in San Jose, were fixing them and sending them to hospitals.
In Southern California, people were kept off beaches and hiking trails. A stay-at-home order restricts people to all but essential outside activities such as buying food and exercise near home that doesn't put them within 6 feet (1.8 meters) of others.
Officials closed California's 280 state parks to vehicular traffic, citing overcrowding. The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area closed its extensive trail system in Los Angeles County.
“This was the first time that we saw across Southern California our iconic beaches and trailheads, the parks that define who we are, the views that greet us at our best and worst moments weren’t there except in our imaginations,” Garcetti said.
At Manhattan Beach, a surfer was given a $1,000 citation for ignoring repeated warnings by police and lifeguards that the beach was closed, police told the Los Angeles Times. “Everybody else was in compliance,” Sgt. Mike Sistoni said.
In Northern California, cloudy, drizzly weather led many to obey the order but the restrictions could be tested soon with a forecast of dry, warm weather ahead.
San Francisco's subway and light rail system closed Monday, with service replaced by buses. Rail ridership had dropped by more than 90%.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Homes for senior citizens in Burbank and Yucaipa reported three deaths in potential outbreaks.
Vernon Robinson, a resident of Alameda Care Center in Burbank, died Thursday in the hospital after his wife, Willa, said he had tested positive for COVID-19. The 81-year-old had Alzheimer's disease and underlying heart and lung conditions.
“That's not the way I wanted him to leave here,” Willa Robinson, 71, said in an interview. “He deserved more.”
Now she must stay in quarantine while mourning her husband of 55 years.
“Nobody can come to me,” she said.
Elizabeth Tyler, who represents both assisted-living facilities, said two residents died from COVID-19 at Alameda Care Center. She said five other residents and 10 employees were also infected.
Tyler said the Burbank nursing home had taken the two residents who died to the hospital for symptoms that were believed to be related to other health issues.
In the San Bernardino County city of Yucaipa, Tyler said an 89-year-old woman who lived at Cedar Mountain Post Acute nursing home died from the virus Thursday.
San Bernardino County public health officials said 12 elderly residents at the home have tested positive in the county's first cluster of COVID-19 outbreak.
Nguyen reported from Oakland.
This article was written by DAISY NGUYEN and STEFANIE DAZIO from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to email@example.com.