More National Guard sent in; Pasadena sees 15 more coronavirus cases

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By Bradley Bermont, Pasadena Star-News, May 8 2020

Pasadena Public Health Department director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh spoke to media during a tour of the city’s coronavirus overflow patient facility at the Pasadena Convention Center on Thursday, April 16, 2020 in Pasadena, CA. (Staff photo by Bradley Bermont/SCNG.)

Medical teams from the California National Guard have been deployed to more nursing homes around Los Angeles County, including a second facility in Pasadena, where health department officials reported 15 new coronavirus cases on Friday, May 8, but no new deaths.

It’s the first time in two weeks Pasadena has seen a day without coronvirus-related fatalities and comes on the same day Pasadena allowed a soft reopening of some businesses, plus city golf courses.

“One day without a death doesn’t show a trend, but any day without a loss to COVID-19 is a good day, and we feel confident that what our community is doing to stay at home is helping, and we appreciate their support and patience,” Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, Pasadena Public Health Department director, said in an email to media organizations on Friday.

Of Friday’s 15 new cases, two were minors younger than 18. Six minors have contracted the virus now in Pasadena.

Meanwhile, five new cases were tallied among adults between the ages of 18 and 40; while only two cases involved residents between the ages of 41 and 64. Six cases involved peole 65 years or older.

Pasadena has recorded 531 coronavirus cases — 306 involving senior patients — and 65 related deaths since the outbreak began.

Nine out of 10 of the city’s deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities, such as assisted living facilities and nursing homes, according to city data.

An analysis of the data shows at least 13 of Friday’s cases involved these facilities; officials are trying to determine whether the remaining two cases are also linked.

While National Guard service members were initially deployed to just five nursing homes across the county late last month, now nine teams are working in area nursing homes whose staff had been hard-hit by the virus.

In the latest wave of deployments, a team arrived at Foothill Heights Care Center on Thursday, April 30, according to National Guard spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma.

The facility’s administrator declined to comment on this story and would not confirm any details offered by the National Guard.

Foothill Heights has seen one death and 15 cases among its residents, according to city and state data. An undisclosed number of staff members have also been infected — at least one, but fewer than 11.

It’s the second facility in Pasadena to receive medical support from the National Guard.

Initially, a team was sent to Huntington Post Acute, also known as Pasadena Meadows. Additional teams were considered for Brighton Care Center and Rose Garden Healthcare Center, though those were ultimately scrapped, and the teams were redirected before boots were on the ground, Shiroma said in an earlier interview.

Additionally on Friday, city officials confirmed new cases at several of the city’s nursing homes and one assisted-living facility, though some of these cases may involve people who are not Pasadena residents and aren’t counted in the city’s overall tally.

Golden Cross Healthcare saw a big leap in cases among its residents. For weeks, the nursing home had reported an undisclosed number of cases between staff and residents — at least one, but fewer than 11 — but as of Friday, it had broken the reporting threshold with 24 cases among residents since the outbreak began.

It’s unclear how many staff members are infected, if any at all. One death has been linked to the facility.

Another four cases were also reported by the Pasadena Grove Health Center on Friday. A total of 38 residents have been infected since the outbreak began — 15 of those were reported this week alone.

Two new cases were also reported at GEM Transitional Care Center, sending their total residential case count to 43. The facility has had a difficult week, with four out of seven of its total deaths reported between Monday and Friday; 20 new residential cases were reported last weekend.

A total of 43 residents and 15 staff members have been infected with COVID-19 at GEM since the outbreak began.

Lastly, one new case was reported among staff members at Villa Gardens, an assisted-living facility that’s seen 18 residential cases and 17 staff cases since the outbreak began. Five deaths have been linked to the facility.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles County, officials reported 883 new COVID-19 cases and 51 new deaths Friday, bringing the county’s total to more than 30,000 reported cases and 1,468 deaths. This does not include the latest figures from Pasadena, as the county typically lags one day behind the city’s own reporting.

The county’s numbers, which have settled into a statistical plateau in recent weeks but have failed to decline significantly, now account for more than half of California’s deaths related to the coronavirus. Hospitalization rates also have remained stable, officials said.

Staff writer Ariella Plachta contributed to this report.