If the Chinese medical data is accurate—a big if—there is a scary possible death toll from the virus here in Malibu.
UCLA Medical School assistant professor Ariana Anderson broke down the numbers for Malibu, according to a recent interview conducted by KBUU News.
She said in a report issued Monday that COVID-19—the disease caused by coronavirus—is projected to infect between 40-70 percent of the world’s population.
It’s well documented that U.S. hospitals are not showing accurate COVID-19 infection rates because of the shortage of test kits. The testing restrictions suggest that community transmission may not be detected because it is not being tested.
Anderson took the 40 to 70 percent infection rate prediction and applied it to the population data for Malibu, which has an older population.
The numbers are staggering.
“I want to see how the virus would play out here in Malibu as we have an older demographic here, which makes us more susceptible to the disease,” Anderson said.
Between 139 to 244 COVID-19 deaths can be extrapolated by applying Chinese data to Malibu demographics.
So, why does this matter? There’s more to it than just scaring people out of their wits.
There is a rumor going around of a COVID-19 case under self-quarantine here in Malibu.
KBUU News and The Malibu Times have not received any confirmation of the rumors, nor has any official issued a denial or correction.
In response to these and other questions posed by KBUU and others, the City of Malibu issued a statement on Monday that reads, in part, “To protect patient privacy, LADPH [Los Angeles County Department of Public Health] does not provide details of specific cases. Public health investigations, under state and federal law, are confidential. Specific information is disclosed by LADPH when necessary to prevent the occurrence of additional cases. LADPH will provide additional information regarding Novel Coronavirus cases only when: a new case of the virus is confirmed; if a person confirmed to have the virus has died; and if there is a confirmed case at public locations and it is necessary to identify additional persons at risk for being infected.”
According to Anderson, the disease will have a major impact on Malibu.
“Right now, there is little being done for containment. So, if we have, for example, low containment with 70 percent of the people getting infected, there’s going to be about 244 fatalities in Malibu,” she said. “If we have high containment then we might be able to bring the infection rate down to 40 percent, and we would see about 139 fatalities.”
According to Anderson, there are clear steps people can follow to help slow the spread of infection.
“We need to make sure that we are all following precautions and making sure that the persons in immediate contact to us are also taking precautions, too,” she said. “It doesn’t do much good for one person to be quarantined if their spouse, if their housekeeper, if the repairman who fixes the washer and dryer who is coming in and out of their house—because these are all sources of disease transmission. It also means, too, though, that this person is not going to be the only person that we are going to see.”
And the reality of where the LA-area is in terms of virus spread is likely broader than today’s numbers show.
“We know, for example, that Los Angeles just had their first community-acquired case today [Monday]. This is our first community-acquired case. And this means that if there’s one, there’s 100,” she said. “There are many people walking around right now [that] have the virus and don’t know because you don’t really show symptoms until at least five days.”
When it comes to the way local medical centers are preparing for COVID-19, neither Malibu Urgent Care nor UCLA Health Malibu Immediate Care were able to provide details as to their preparations. Representatives from UCLA Health directed questions to the network’s coronavirus webpage, uclahealth.org/coronavirus-news, which states, in part, “Patients face no additional risk in our hospitals and clinics. Please keep existing appointments unless directed otherwise. All of our hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica and our clinics across Southern California remain open to serve the community.” No representative for Malibu Urgent Care was immediately available to speak to The Malibu Times by the time the paper went to print on Tuesday night.
And as for the person who may be self-quarantined in Malibu, City Manager Reva Feldman gave the following statement to KBUU News:
“Let’s remember we are a community of good and kind people, and if one among us is sick or struggling, we are a community of people who care and will support those in a time of need.”