Discovery of life-saving drug coincides with L.A. County’s increase in coronavirus cases

Story by Janice Park and Lenise Diaz

Illustration by Alicia Zhang
Staff Illustrator

This week California reported a record-high increase in the number of new coronavirus cases in a single day, prompting Governor Gavin Newsom to enact an order that mandates face masks in all public areas. Also, researchers from the University of Oxford found a way to reduce coronavirus fatalities through a commonly used steroid called dexamethasone, on Tuesday, June 16. 

Dexamethasone is the first drug proven to save coronavirus patients’ lives in what scientists called a “major breakthrough” in stopping virus fatalities. The trial results announced on Tuesday showed that dexamethasone lowered death rates by around 33 percent among those who were severely ill and on ventilators or oxygen. 

However, the steroid cannot directly mitigate coronavirus transmission—which has sharply risen this week. California recently passed 5,000 deaths from the pandemic as L.A. County recorded over 2,500 new cases on Sunday, June 21 alone. South Pasadena currently has 145 coronavirus cases and 21 deaths, which is eight more cases than last week.

Experts have explained that the increase in caseloads is in part due to more widespread coronavirus testing that anyone, regardless of symptoms, can request. 

Still, the California Department of Public Health announced on Thursday, June 18 that it will require residents to cover their faces while in public or in high-risk settings, including when shopping, taking public transit or seeking medical care. The new policy goes into effect as many residents are not following the proper social distancing guidelines that are a part of reopenings, contributing to the rise in coronavirus cases. 

“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” Newsom said in a statement on Thursday. “California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations. That means wearing a face covering, washing your hands and practicing physical distancing.”

L.A. County is still going forward with the transition into phase three of economic reopening, allowing more businesses like gyms and bars to reopen as long as they adhere to the statewide mask mandate. In South Pasadena, the city council has approved the Al Fresco Dining and Retail Program which will allow local restaurants to utilize outdoor spaces for in-person dining. City hall is set to reopen to the public and Camp Med will begin adjusted summer services on Monday, July 6.

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