Watch: As Mask Mandate Looms, LA Hospital Officials Mock COVID "Media Hype"
Correction (July 18): We originally described this event as a press conference. Now, a statement from Los Angeles County has revealed it was "an internal weekly virtual town hall meant to provide our staff at LAC + USC an update on COVID-19 hospital admissions." Maybe that explains the narrative-annihilating candor exhibited in the video described and embedded below.
With the two-page statement, issued in response to the circulation of the video, Los Angeles County Health Services scrambles to restore any Covid-19 alarmism that was rightly extinguished by the frank observations of the two LAC + USC physicians.
For example, in the video, the LAC + SAC chief medical officer summed up the situation as people with "bad colds." However, the Los Angeles County statement acknowledges that the hospital system is "not currently experiencing an increase in ICU admissions," but says "rising rates of infection are extremely concerning."
The statement disputes none of the factual assertions in the video, and indeed confirms many of them, declaring for example, "We have not had a patient intubated due to Covid for several months." It also confirms that, while there are 30 Covid-positive patients in the hospital, only three were admitted for Covid and none are in the ICU.
It also notes that all admissions to the hospital are tested, and that the resulting steady stream of positive tests reflects not only "high community transmission rates" but also "the fact that a person who has recovered from Covid-19 can continue to test positive on a PCR test for months, even when they are no longer actively infected."
Sorry, LA County...we're still not scared.
a press conference an internal town hall presentation dripping with a mix of exasperation and dry-witted sarcasm, two officials at one of the largest hospital systems in Southern California threw a bucket of cold water on media and government efforts to whip the public into a state of fear over the latest Covid-19 uptick.
Their remarks came on the same day that Los Angeles County health director Barbara Ferrer declared the county had moved into a "high" level of Covid transmission. Two consecutive weeks in that status would trigger the reimposition of an indoor mask mandate on the nearly 10 million people who still choose to live there.
The press conference featured Brad Spellberg, the chief medical officer of Los Angeles County + University of Southern California Medical Center (LAC + USC), along with epidemiologist Paul Holtom.
Spellberg kicked off the duo's ridicule of Covid fearmongering with an exasperated description of the Covid situation: "It's just the same. It's not changed. It's been the same. It's like...two months of the same."
He backed up his characterization with charts depicting county cases and the hospital's own Covid admission data.
"The numbers at [LAC+USC] Covid-positive tests have continued to go up, but this isn't because we're seeing a ton of people with symptomatic disease being admitted...we're seeing a lot of people with mild disease in urgent care and [emergency department] who go home and do not get admitted.
Of those who are admitted, they're 90% of the time not admitted due to Covid. 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 are not intubated."
As for the worst kind of Covid-ICU case, Spellberg said, "We haven't seen one of those since February. It's been months." He said today's Covid patients in intensive care are more typically associated with conditions like electrolyte abnormalities or auto-immune attack of the nerves that may or may not be Covid-driven.
LAC+USC full July 14 vid:— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) July 16, 2022
"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 are not intubated... we have not seen one of those since February."
HT @Campbels12. pic.twitter.com/AThaOxHGn3
"It is just not the same pandemic that it was, despite all the media hype to the contrary...I mean - a lot of people have bad colds is what we're seeing," Spellberg concluded.
Epidemiologist Paul Holtom sarcastically chided Spellberg: "I would really have to work to burst that soothiness bubble...maybe we can turn to the media, which is trying to burst that bubble by talking about a new variant that was was described in India...[and is] 'sweeping' the country and now the United States."
"Certainly, if the experience of our hospital is reflective of across the county, which I believe it is, we're just seeing nobody with severe Covid disease. As of this morning, we have no one in the hospital who had pulmonary disease due to Covid. Nobody in the hospital....NOBODY. Nobody who had Covid-19 disease as we would see it in the past. So I guess it is hard to get a little more excited."
The epidemiologist noted that Los Angeles County could soon reimpose an indoor mask mandate "based on numbers." However, he said, "certainly, there's no reason from a hospitalization-due-to-covid-push perspective to be worried at his point."
Holtom transitioned away from the Covid portion of the
press conference town hall by administering a final dose of humor: "I'm so tired about not being worried about Covid for week after week, the very least we could do is bring up another potential pandemic and get worried about it, because at least that way we have something to be worried about!"