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PIH Hospital is prepared for a COVID-19 outbreak, officials say

WHITTIER —PIH Hospital in Whittier is prepared should an outbreak of COVID-19 occur locally, hospital officials say. 


Judy Pugach, vice president of regulatory affairs at PIH Health, said the Whittier hospital “is prepared to protect our patients, physicians, clinical care providers and all employees from the spread of infectious disease.”


“Like many other hospitals, we care for patients with infectious diseases frequently and are well prepared to provide them with the best and appropriate care while ensuring the safety of our staff, patients and visitors.”


Pugach added that PIH Health clinicians are communicating with and following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, in addition to the infection control policies, procedures and systems that were already in place.


The coronavirus has impacted several groups in Whittier, including Whittier College, which will transition to online classes when students return from spring break March 23.  The college also canceled or postponed most events that attract 100 or more people.


The school’s athletic department was impacted as well, with most athletic events canceled through this month, including softball, men’s and women’s tennis, lacrosse, women’s water polo, and baseball.


Men’s lacrosse also canceled two games scheduled for April.


“We have been in constant communication with our leadership team on campus as well as our conference (SCIAC), and the NCAA,” said Whittier College Athletic Director Rock Carter. “Athletic participation was considered in the most recent academic decision announced [Tuesday] by President Linda Oubré and Academic Affairs. This is a fluid situation with changes happening hourly.”


Whittier Pony Baseball said Wednesday it did not have plans to cancel games. Kids, however, would be instructed to tip their hats instead of exchanging high-fives or handshakes.


As of Thursday morning, the Whittier Union High School District had not provided a statement in regards to how it is handling the COVID-19 outbreak.


Hillview Middle School, however, posted on Facebook that “Future Frosh Night” scheduled for next week has been canceled and that the district would post additional information on its website after spring break.


The Whittier Audubon Society canceled its annual conservation awards dinner scheduled for March 19.


Chorale Bel Canto postponed a “swingin’ and singin'” concert set for this Saturday at Rio Hondo College.  


“We are very disappointed to do so, but we feel it is the prudent decision,” the choral group said in an email. “We are committed to performing this wonderful program in the future.”


Out of an abundance of caution, the Whittier Elks have canceled its Spring Special Needs Dance scheduled for April 19.


The cancellation was “in the best interest of all our guests,” the Elks said.


The event was a free lunch and dance for people with physical and/or intellectual disabilities.

Staff writer Alex Dominguez contributed to this report.

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