Covid-19 cases in Los Angeles County are surging. The region topped 100 daily deaths on Thursday for the first time in 10 months, while hospitalizations had crept towards the 4,700 mark last week before tapering off during the weekend.
Testing sites and vaccine clinics are popping up in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, and for members of the Filipino community, they say now is not the time to ease up on health protocols. "It is frustrating. Mid last year, it looked [like] things were turning around, and it looks like the Omicron surge now. I think the best thing we can do at this point is just promote health and safety," Ian Kamus of Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) argues.
The Los Angeles Department of Public Health (LADPH) has enacted its mandate that requires all businesses to provide workers with N95 or KN95 masks, and employees are required to wear them. The new order comes as new research shows that simple cloth masks do not provide enough protection against Covid-19.
Restaurant owner Charina Vergara supports the order, saying she has spent the past two years doing her best to keep her workers and customers safe - from testing to temperature and vaccination checks.
"We are exposed like many of those in the food industry, the frontliners. That is why it’s very important for us to observe the guidelines because we have to face the fact, it’s not gonna leave us anytime soon, but we cannot live in paranoia so we just follow the science," Vergara asserts.
From delivering testing kits to the community to switching in-person events to virtual, some community groups are increasing their efforts. Kamus knows how deadly the virus can be. After all, PWC lost a handful of its members to the pandemic in the past two years.
"It’s never easy to think about that right, for those that we lost during COVID but in a way, we continue their legacy of being leaders in the community and advocating for our well being and our health and especially for those who passed away who had illnesses and were still out there promoting health and well being, we carry them with us as we do our work," Kamus says.
LA County has also mandated its own public health councils to give resources and information to local communities. "The goal is to educate the workers so para nila sunduin appropriately yung health officer orders and to prevent the spread and the transmission in the workplace (The goal is to educate the workers so they can follow appropriately the health officers’ orders, and to prevent the spread and the transmission in the workplace)," Kae Balboa of the LADPH Public Health Council notes.
When it comes to events, LA County is also recommending that large venues only allow food and drink to be consumed in designated areas.