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Hospital slams media for rising hospitalizations claim as LA returns to mask mandate

'We're just seeing nobody with severe COVID disease'

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Yudi Sherman

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Yudi Sherman

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July 19, 2022

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11:41 AM

Hospital slams media for rising hospitalizations claim as LA returns to mask mandate

Los Angeles County+USC Medical Center (LAC+USC) officials Thursday slammed claims that COVID hospitalizations are rising, a claim being used by Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to likely return to mask mandates by the end of the month. 

“With the coronavirus resurgent and cases and hospitalizations on the rise, Los Angeles is poised to become the first Southern California county to reinstate mandatory public indoor masking,” reported the Los Angeles Times Friday. 

But LAC+USC Chief Medical Officer Brad Spielberg says that as far as hospitalizations go, everything is pretty much the same at the 600-bed hospital. 

“It’s just the same,” he said in a video alongside LAC+USC CEO Jorge Orozco and epidemiologist Paul Holtom. “It’s been the same. It’s been like two months of the same.” Spielberg shared graphs showing how hospitalizations have largely plateaued, even though cases are going up. 

“The numbers at LAC: COVID-positive tests continue to go up, but this isn’t because we’re seeing a ton of people with symptomatic disease getting admitted.” 

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In fact, said Spielberg, not only are very few patients being admitted due to COVID, but even those few are not being put on ventilators.  

“We’re seeing a lot of people with mild disease in urgent care or ED who do not get admitted, and of those who are admitted, they’re 90% of the time not admitted due to COVID,” he continued. “Only 10% of our COVID-positive admissions are admitted due to COVID. Virtually none of them go to the ICU, and when they do go to the ICU, it is not for pneumonia. They’re not intubated . . . we haven’t seen one of those since February. It’s been months." 

“It is just not the same pandemic as it was, despite all the media hype to the contrary,” he confirmed. “A lot of people have bad colds is what we’re seeing.” 

“I’m going to really have to work to burst that soothiness bubble,” Holtom then chimed in. “Maybe we can turn to the media which is trying to burst that bubble by talking about a new variant in India that is sweeping the country.” 

Holtom echoed Spielberg’s statement that cases are going up due to more people testing positive, but cautioned against taking the numbers too seriously. 

“Although, we have to understand that first of all, most of that data is completely incomprehensible because at the moment many, many people are testing at home and most people are not reporting those tests in. So no one has any idea actually how many people are testing positive at any point.” 

“We’re just seeing nobody with severe COVID disease,” he continued. "As of this morning, we have no one in the hospital who had pulmonary disease due to COVID. Nobody in the hospital. We have 24 people who have tested positive for COVID but nobody, nobody who had COVID-19 disease as we would see in the past." 

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