L.A. County Health Update & Formation of Oxy Task Force


The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) declared a health emergency this morning in response to six new COVID-19 cases in the county. This week, the College formed a coordinating task force to guide our actions on this important issue.

Oxy Community:

As you may already be aware, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LADPH) declared a health emergency this morning in response to six new COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases in the county, bringing the total number of local cases to seven. At this time, this news does not have an impact on the Occidental community.

In response to today’s news, Sara Semal, senior director of student wellness, has spoken with LADPH officials to ensure that the College is taking the necessary precautions and to obtain guidance on the College’s response to the emerging public health crisis. 

On Tuesday of this week, the College formed a coordinating task force (CTF, members listed below) that is meeting multiple times per week to guide our actions on this important issue, including updating the College’s pandemic plan based on official guidance and our own specific needs. For now, please visit the College’s COVID-19 website for resources, communication and responses to FAQs.

Here are some more details on the new COVID-19 cases in Los Angeles:

  • Health officials emphasized that the new cases are not connected to community spreading. Three are travelers who visited northern Italy; two are family members who had close contact with someone outside of the county who was infected; another had a job that put them in contact with travelers.
  • Only one of the seven individuals is hospitalized.
  • The purpose of declaring a health emergency is to better marshal resources from across government agencies and give the fight against the virus more focus.
  • More confirmed cases of the virus will likely emerge as testing increases. This is not necessarily a sign that the rate of infection is increasing, but that our ability to test more people more rapidly is leading to better detection.
  • For most of the American public, who are unlikely to be exposed to this virus at this time, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 is considered low, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.
  • Health officials continue to stress that the best preventative measures individuals can take are simple ones: Stay home if you have a fever, active cough, sneezing and/or vomiting; wash your hands frequently with soap and water; cover a cough or sneeze with a tissue or your arm; get a flu shot to help protect yourself against seasonal flu.

Members of the College's coordinating task force include:

Liz Boyd: Academic Affairs
Robin Craggs: International Programs
Randy Glazer: Human Resources
Tom Polansky: Facilities
Sara Semal: Emmons/Public Health
Marty Sharkey: Institutional Initiatives, CTF Lead
Isaiah Thomas: Res Ed/Student Affairs
Jim Tranquada: Marketing and Communications
James Uhrich: Business Continuity/Academic Continuity
Kimberly Uribe: President’s Office
 

Jim Tranquada
Director of Communications