LA Times owner turns focus to battling COVID-19 pandemic

Besides being the executive chairman of the LA Times, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong has quite a background. He’s been a pancreatic transplant surgeon, a NASA scientist and has been intensely involved in the fight against COVID-19.

He’s been communicating with the governor, the mayor, officials in Italy, China and New york. He says that Thursday night he spent an hour-and-a-half speaking with top officials in China. 

He wants to take St. Vincent's and St. Francis Hospital here in Southern California and Seton Hospital in the northern part of the state and turn them into what he calls "COVID-central” with every part of each hospital from the ER to the patient rooms totally focused on this novel coronavirus.  

He wants to turn these into working hospitals with only COVID-19 patients. He wants to subdivide patients into three categories (yellow, orange and red) based on the severity of the symptoms. And, in effect, create COVID-specialists who can really understand the needed treatments.

Soon-Shiong says he wants to do that because "I believe very strongly that the treatments differ depending on what stage you are. This virus hijacks your body and grows very much like cancer and when it grows the disease at the point of massive replication is different than the disease when it starts to infect.” 

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong

He has high praise for the governor, whom he says will have final approval over “COVID central”. But, adds that we are making progress in the war against the novel coronavirus that will continue, he believes, if we keep practicing the social distancing, wearing masks, washing our hands and all of the things we’ve been asked to do.

He also says we all really need to think that "we have it" even if we don’t because if we do we could infect others and have a harder time containing this virus.