Malibu got a jolt last week when L.A. County Health started breaking out the COVID-19 cases for municipalities with a population smaller than 20,000. We went to bed thinking there were no cases in Malibu and woke up to a press release announcing that we actually had five cases. No further information is available as to the age or location of those who are ill.
Within the next day or two, New York, Los Angeles and, somewhat belatedly, the state and federal governments advised that homemade cloth masks can be a helpful tool in protecting yourself and those you come in contact with from infection. The internet is now full of masks you can make at home ranging from cleverly folded bandanas to constructions involving HEPA rated vacuum cleaner bags that actually provide a higher level of filtration than the professional grade N95-rated masks. The cloth masks can be laundered and reused. The internet also has information about commercial and homebrewed schemes to sterilize and reuse N95 masks. Since we don’t have a vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide Sterilization machine, we are experimenting with washing ours in a solution of bleach and water.
On Saturday, Dr. Deborah Birx stated during the federal task force briefing that everyone should stay away from pharmacies and grocery stores for the next two weeks. Their models indicate that the number of new infections reported seem to be peaking in New York and Los Angeles so we need to get really religious about avoiding unnecessary interpersonal contact. This is a great time to stay home and cocoon.
A little after 7 p.m. on Sunday, I got an email advising that the City of Malibu, in partnership with Sean Penn’s global nonprofit CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort), will be hosting drive through COVID-19 testing at City Hall from Monday, April 6, through Saturday, April 11. Monday and Tuesday are devoted to first responders and essential workers serving the community, who need not have symptoms. The balance of the week will be open to all of the community. Pre-registration is required. The testing organization has asked that only those with COVID-19 symptoms pre-register. Priority will be given to those who have symptoms and those who are caregivers for someone with symptoms, or have been diagnosed with COVID-19. The test involves a self-administered nasal swab that gets sealed in a container and dropped in a bin. The results are expected to be available in two days. They are accepting insured patients only.
The city has done a great job of pushing out information about what is happening seven days a week and I can’t begin to thank Mr. Penn enough for his role in making this opportunity available to the community.
Testing is important because it can reveal the asymptomatic and mild cases that are still contagious. I know that I’m not the only person in Malibu checking their temperature every afternoon. No one wants to be responsible for infecting others.
On a more positive note, it has been very interesting to take part in Zoom conferences as businesses and organizations try to keep functioning. The planning commission will attempt its first remote meeting the evening of April 6 and the city council will be attempting its own remote on the 13th.