COVID-19 is like tsunami says N. California doctor; government navigating crisis

Ritu Jha-

The rise of COVID-19  in California might be less compared with New York and the stay-at-home order is working, but a doctor says people are taking the crisis lightly and that the state is in a late phase of the outbreak but is going to be hit by more cases.

Dr. Jasbir S. Kang, who has practiced in the Yuba-Sutter area, says he is worried there are not enough doctors and they have stopped surgeries to make room in the hospital for COVID-19 patients.

Kang said he hopes California’s hot weather, along with the number of cases and the state’s population not being as clustered as New York, will contradict epidemiologists’ dire predictions.

“But our peak will hit us in the middle of April and peak up in the end of April,” said Dr.Kang, who has received not many cases yet. “The tsunami has started, and we know Santa Clara County is a business area with high movement. But again it’s like a tsunami. It happens at one area, and it keeps on spreading.”

Dr.Kang said graphs of the outbreak show that the number of cases is not going down as expected.

“We see people are partying, weddings happening and shelter-in-place, but not all are following it,” Dr.Kang told indica.

By April 5, the cases of coronavirus in California had risen to 15,154 after 1,250 new positive cases were found on April 5. As 26 affected patients passed away, the death toll in the state reached 347.

The number of deaths is still rising nearly two weeks after Gov. Gavin Newsom called for people to stay at home. Cases in the Bay Area jumped from 798 on March 17 to 2,658 on April 1, with Santa Clara County accounting for more than a quarter of the region’s patients and over half of the region’s 68 deaths.

San Jose Deputy City Manager Kip Harkness estimated recently that COVID-19 could kill as many as 2,000 to 16,000 people in the next two months in Santa Clara County, which has become the state’s coronavirus epicenter, if social distancing wasn’t practiced rigorously, according to preliminary projections from San Jose’s emergency response team presented during a City Council meeting, Patch reported.

Harkness, who leads the city’s 220-person Emergency Operations Center, conveyed the predictions on a graphic with three curves.

“The current number of … positive tests vastly undercounts the number of actual cases,” Harkness said.

However, officials from Santa Clara County’s Public Health Department expressed uncertainty about the city’s projections, saying they had yet to review the city’s methodology.

At present, there are 22 public health labs in California testing samples for COVID-19.

Jay Bhattacharya, a professor of medicine at Stanford University who is involved with the project, told Palo Alto Online on Saturday that the research team is taking 2,500 tests at the three sites throughout the county – in Mountain View, Los Gatos and San Jose.

“We need to understand how widespread the disease actually is,” Bhattacharya told Palo Alto Online. “To do that, we need to understand how many people are infected. The current test people use to check whether they have the condition – the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test – it just checks whether you currently have the virus in you. It doesn’t check whether you had it and recovered. An antibody test does both.”

Neeraj Sood, professor and vice dean for research at the USC Price School of Public Policy and Senior Fellow at the USC Schaeffer Center, who early this month while talking on  USC Price’s Price Talks: Public Policy in a Pandemic series said, “We don’t have a cure for COVID, so testing the sick has limited value in guiding clinical decision-making.”

“We are treating symptoms of COVID not the disease itself. So knowing that a patient has COVID is not helping much with clinical decision making,” Sood said during the event on through Zoom.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports over 10,000 have died nationwide due to coronavirus and over 356,942 have been sickened by it. Worldwide, the official case count approaches 1.331,032 with fatalities closing in on 73,917.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on the Sunday show circuit warned about the pandemic hitting hard this week, saying this week is going to be the “hardest and the saddest and compared it with Pearl Harbor and 9/11 tragedy.” The COVID-19 pandemic’s death toll could be worse than the most infamous American tragedies of the past century. President Trump also offered a grim forecast this weekend, warning that “there will be a lot of death” around the country.

Yoga via Zoom.                                  [Photo courtesy:Mahesh Nihalini]
When indica asked Mahesh Nihalani, who serves as a community director at Priya Living, a home for seniors in California, about how they are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, he said they are taking all measures to stay safe.

He said many seniors after the onset of the pandemic went back to stay with their children and only 25 residents are left in the facility.

Since early March. when the self-isolation and social-distancing requirements were announced, the senior programs stopped since it involved being in groups, he said. Now classes for seniors such as yoga, meditation, wellness, brain club, and music therapy sessions all take place over Zoom.

This way all the residents can be in their own apartments and participate. “These are going very well, and seniors are happy with these programs,” he said.

Nihalani said they have also introduced Zoom inspirational talks.

“We regularly share with our seniors’ various speaker links on thinking positive and other happy and fun programs,” he said.

“Even the weekly grocery outing was stopped, and we arranged for our staff to take a list of all the residents and go and bring groceries for them twice a week plus any day they wanted any medicines, etc., from the pharmacy,” he said  “And doors fittings are sanitized a couple of times each day.”