By CITY NEWS SERVICE
With roughly 45 percent of Los Angeles County’s coronavirus deaths occurring in institutional settings like nursing homes, county supervisors are reviewing proposals aimed at strengthening protections for residents and workers.
Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas authored a motion calling for the county’s legislative advocates to work with Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials to expedite testing for nursing home staffers and residents, issue standard protocols for dealing with coronavirus cases and set staff-to-patient ratios. The motion also calls for additional pay, overtime and sick leave for nursing home employees during the crisis and paying a higher rate to workers caring for residents who have tested positive for the virus, among other measures.
The motion also proposes that skilled nursing homes be required to readmit patients once they are no longer acutely ill with the coronavirus.
Separately, county health officials have expanded testing for COVID-19 to include all residents and staff at nursing homes, regardless of whether they show any symptoms.
During a Monday briefing, the county’s top public health official apologized for not being aware in the early stages of the crisis that people without symptoms could spread the virus.
“Early on in this pandemic, we were all unaware that COVID-19 could be spread by people who were infected but did not have any symptoms, and this unfortunately has resulted in the spread of the virus even where everybody has been doing their very best to implement infection-control measures with the information that we had at the time,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of the county Department of Public Health. “So I apologize on behalf of all of us for not knowing enough at the start of this epidemic to take additional steps in our congregate living facilities to make sure we were doing everything possible to protect residents and staff.”
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