As Pasadena stays open, Long Beach opts to stick with LA County on outdoor dining ban

Long Beach and Pasadena are two of a handful of California cities with their own health departments, but the two have chosen different paths when to comes to following county health orders.

Amid surging COVID-19 cases, Los Angeles County beginning at 10 p.m. on Wednesday will shut down in-person dining at all restaurants and bars for at least three weeks.

While Pasadena has typically abided by county health orders, the city this week took the unusual step of breaking with the region, saying it will continue to allow outdoor dining due to its lower COVID numbers. The city has the option to issue different health orders because it has its own health department. 

Long Beach, however, has said it will follow the county because of the city’s higher case rate.

Long Beach Health Department Director Kelly Colopy in a statement on Tuesday noted that Pasadena’s current case rate is 21 per 100,000 residents, while Long Beach’s case rate is 34 per 100,000.

“If their numbers continue to grow at the existing pace, it is anticipated that they will take additional action,” Colopy said of Pasadena.

Pasadena, which has roughly 141,200 residents, as of Monday had reported 3,405 total COVID cases and 132 deaths.

As of Tuesday, Long Beach, which has roughly 437,300 residents, has seen 15,522 total positive cases and 274 deaths.

Pasadena city spokeswoman Lisa Derderian in a statement to news outlets said the city will continue to assess its COVID numbers and will work closely with Huntington Hospital to give advanced notice on any possible changes

Pasadena’s break from LA County has heightened the tension with local business and the Long Beach Restaurant Association, which has appealed to the city to keep outdoor dining open.

The association, which has said restaurants have been unfairly blamed for the surge, will hold a news conference on Wednesday demanding a meeting with city and county health officials.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has said he supports the health department’s decision, noting the city’s sharp increase in hospitalizations of the past three weeks.

Health officials say hospitalizations at local facilities have jumped 248%, from 25 to 87, in the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, two members of the LA County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday blasted the county for its decision to suspend in-person dining stating there is no evidence that the restaurants have cause the recent surge in cases.

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Kelly Puente is an award-winning general assignment and special projects reporter at the Long Beach Post. She has worked as a journalist in Long Beach since 2006, covering everything from education and crime to courts and breaking news. Kelly previously worked at the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Orange County Register before joining the Post in 2018. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public policy and administration at Cal State Long Beach. Reach her at [email protected].