Lancaster is not happy with LA County’s response to COVID-19 and is setting up its own public health agency

Lancaster City Council is unhappy with the Los Angeles County COVID-19 outbreak and has unanimously voted to set up its own public health agency.

On Thursday, the council unanimously approved a symbolic “vote of no confidence” by Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, who is leading the charge against the coronavirus.

Mayor R. Rex Parris accused county officials of failing to take smaller cities, such as Lancaster, with a population of about 158,000, into account when making comprehensive decisions. suspend an outdoor meal.

“What I don’t want our city to do is make decisions based on something other than what research and the people best known for it support – which I suggest you don’t Barbara Ferrer,” Parris said.

Ferrer’s spokesman did not respond to the request for comment.

“If you compare the steps the state has taken to regulate COVID and the further changes the county has made, these appear to be at most minor changes that are not based on science,” said Jason Caudle, Lancaster City Manager. “They seem to have a distinctly unbalanced impact on restaurants.”

Although the rate of Lancaster cases is lower than that of Los Angeles County, the city’s positivity rate is rising and it is filled by two local hospitals, said Deputy Mayor Dr. Jonathan Truong and Infectious Diseases Specialist. He said Antelope Valley Valley Hospital cares for 68 confirmed COVID patients, up from 23 last month. There are 45 COVID patients at the nearby Palmdale Regional Medical Center, up from 18 last month. Nevertheless, Truong did not dispute the city council’s dislike of the new county restrictions.

“Sometimes, if you don’t specify the detailed number to the local area, you end up creating policies that fit all sizes,” Truong said. – It basically closes everything, even if this community is doing well or the other community is doing badly. This is the problem with numbers that match one number. “

Lawrence Stock, deputy mayor, and an emergency doctor at Antelope Valley Hospital, said his workplace is getting the worst, setting up new tents out of duty to expand capacity. He also said hospitals have not yet seen the effects of Thanksgiving gatherings that were likely to have helped spread the infection.

“Together with the rest of California, the rest of the county [we’re] there is a risk of flooding normal hospital capacity, ”Stock said. – We’re in a serious ups and downs now.

Parris, who convened an extraordinary council meeting on Thursday, acknowledged the gravity of the city’s current plight in the epidemic. The city blamed 77 coronavirus-related deaths for failing county leaders to keep the masked mandate or educate people appropriately about the epidemic.

“We don’t have the leadership to be brave enough to make these unpopular decisions,” Parris said in a Friday morning interview.

He called the county Department of Public Health too big and “non-functioning”. The city can maneuver faster to secure resources and make the necessary changes, he said.

But despite his displeasure and the unanimous vote of the council, it could take months for the public health agency proposed by Parris to work, possibly as a joint effort with neighboring cities such as Palmdale. He acknowledged that the coronavirus was probably long gone by the time Lancaster set up its own agency. Nevertheless, he said the COVID-19 epidemic exacerbated the effectiveness of the county’s public health responses and underlined the need for the city to take care of its own.

Distrust of Ferrer also has no practical effect. But Parris said the unanimous vote signaled that the city had been “betrayed” by dealing with the pandemic.

“What we’re going to do may not affect it, but we’ve never had to do that to anyone yet,” he said at Thursday’s meeting. “Without this manifestation of our contempt, and in fact it is, nothing will change. … In my opinion, it failed.

Lancaster’s vote on Wednesday followed similar action by Beverly Hills City Council, which unanimously called for the lifting of the outdoor eating ban and promised to look into setting up its own public health agency. Protesters from the past few days have gathered in front of the Ferrer Echo Park house to protest some of the county’s new restrictions.