We’ve all seen or heard the new statistics. To say they are concerning is not quite strong enough. Frankly, they are alarming:
- At KPSC, our COVID-19 positive inpatient census is higher than the peak we reached in April, and it continues to climb.
- California recorded nearly twice the number of coronavirus cases in June as it did in May.
- Hospitalizations have more than tripled in San Bernardino County since Memorial Day.
- Hospitalizations have more than doubled in Orange, Riverside and Ventura Counties since Memorial Day.
- Hospitalizations of confirmed coronavirus patients have risen by 35% in L.A. County since Memorial Day.
- In the first 8 days of July, roughly 65% of new infections have been diagnosed among those 18 to 49 (even though only 45% of Californians fall into that age range).
This virus is vicious and stealthy. It can creep from person to person, undetected, through asymptomatic carriers…converting trusted loved ones into inadvertent transmitters. It continues to reveal itself to scientists in new ways. So we may think we are protected, but the statistics make one thing clear:
We cannot let down our guard.
As the initial fear of the pandemic has abated, our favorite places have reopened, and we ease into the sunny days of summer, our watchfulness may have begun to wane. This surge shows that we cannot relax our attention. We must take every precaution, be absolutely vigilant, and comply with the basic, life-saving protocols:
- Wear a mask or cloth face covering (it’s the law).
- Practice safe distancing.
- Avoid large gatherings. Stay home except for essential needs (and especially if you are sick).
- Wash or disinfect your hands frequently.
In our break rooms, in our stairwells, in elevators, on the walkways to our cars, on the streets where we live, we must model these behaviors. Our colleagues, our neighbors, and our members are watching. Whether or not we see patients, every one of us at Kaiser Permanente is a health care worker. Let’s lead by example.
Our Reiteration and Our Readiness
We reiterate this well-known information not because we are concerned about our operational readiness: fortunately, we maintained the preparations we undertook to brace for the worst. We did not dismantle the changes we put in place to double our capacity to care for hospitalized patients. Our national command center is still active, and we remain well-positionedÂ to identify and manage potential hot spots and surges of need for high-level COVID-19 care. We are testing some 7,000 members daily – exceeding our capacity – and working around the clock to add even more testing solutions.
We are reiterating this message because our highest priorities are your health and well-being, and that of our members and communities. We want you to be healthy because we care about you. We need you to be healthy, because we need you to continue to provide the high-quality member care to which you have dedicated your careers. All of our evidence to date supports that when following our infection control guidelines, transmission of the virus from patients to physicians or staff is exceedingly low. The majority of infections in our workforce has occurred from community exposure or co-worker to co-worker transmission when not following masking and other infection control protocols, such as when taking breaks or interacting socially.
We look forward, with you and the people of our communities, to bending the curve of infection, by adhering strictly and always to the simple COVID-19 prevention protocols. It is a matter of moral obligation. It is a matter of self-preservation. And it begins with you.
Thank you. Stay well and stay safe.
Julie & Ed