LIVE BLOG: The latest updates on the coronavirus

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The Post staff will be updating this blog with the latest information and news on the coronavirus, known as COVID-19, that first appeared in Wuhan, China, and has now spread to multiple countries.
Park parking lots aren’t open until Monday. If you try it, you might get a ticket

4:33 PM Saturday, May 9 |

Signs tell the public that El Dorado Park is closed on Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020. Photo by Tim Grobaty.

Residents on Saturday reported getting parking tickets at the El Dorado Park parking lot near the duck pond after the cones blocking the entrance to the lot were reportedly removed.

The $69 parking tickets were not the COVID-19 citations that officials have largely refrained from handing out, but did reference the COVID-19 lot closure, according to a resident who got a ticket.

This comes as Long Beach officials are beginning to reopen the city, including some retail stores for curbside pickup only and some recreational activities.

Park parking lots, along with the beach bike path, will not reopen until Monday.

However, starting today, city golf courses reopened with specific guidelines. Public trails, trailheads and their parking lots opened Friday.

Beaches remain closed.

What you can and can’t do in Long Beach and LA County starting Friday

 

 

Valerie Osier

County health officials warn restrictions could snap back into place if cases spike

3:17 PM Thursday, May 7 | As restrictions on some retail and outdoor activities in Los Angeles County are relaxed in the coming days, LA County health officials warned that the region is not out of the woods yet and restrictions could return if needed.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that everyone in the county shares a responsibility to protect each other through wearing masks and physical distancing to ensure that this gradual opening of the economy does not result in a spike of cases which could lead to illness and death.

If there is a spike over the next few weeks, Ferrer said that the county could revert back to more restrictions.

“We do know that people are anxious to take steps to feel like we can recover collectively but we’re going to go extraordinarily slow,” Ferrer said. “We don’t want to be doing this at the expense of other people’s lives.”

Ferrer reported Thursday that the county had recorded 815 new cases bringing the county’s total to 29,427. She also reported that 51 more people had died because of COVID-19, which means that over 1,400 county residents have now perished during the pandemic.

Despite deaths continuing to be reported by both county and state officials, some retail and recreation spaces will start to open over the next few days. Ferrer used her daily press briefing to remind viewers of how easily the virus can spread and to emphasize how quickly the county’s hospital system could be overwhelmed as more people return to work and start moving about the county.

She said that an antibody study had suggested that about 5% of the county had been infected by COVID-19 and if 1 million more people start to circulate around the county and get infected or infect others it could result in 50,000 new cases if the study’s figures held up.

If a fraction of those people required hospitalization, it could easily flood area hospitals which only have capacity for about 2,500 patients on a given day, Ferrer warned.

“It [reopening] will only work if we’re all being really careful and committed to slowing the spread,” Ferrer said.

This means that businesses must adhere to county guidelines that Ferrer said should be viewed as rules rather than suggestions. Customers should be careful to give other shoppers and employees space and ensure that they’re wearing masks to help stop the transfer of droplets from coughs, sneezes and conversation.

Ferrer concluded that while businesses are starting to reopen it shouldn’t be seen as a signal for everyone to leave the house.

“Just because something opens up doesn’t mean you need to go out to purchase something right now,” Ferrer said. “You should only go out for what’s essential.”

Jason Ruiz

Newsom unveils new requirements for speeding up next wave of reopenings

1:55 PM Thursday, May 7 | Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed more requirements for counties seeking to speed up the process toward reopening, with testing, new cases and death rates being among highest bars to clear.

The guidance, which will be posted on the state’s Department of Public Health website in the coming days, was revealed in broad strokes during Newsom’s Thursday afternoon press briefing. Newsom said that the chances that some counties could meet these new guidelines and could see restaurants reopen in the next week was “very high” in certain parts of the state.

Those areas will likely be in more rural parts of California, where deaths and infection rates have remained low or nonexistent, leading some to spurn the governor’s stay at home orders.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s secretary of Health and Human Services, said that the regional variances in how COVID-19 has impacted parts of the state could lead to some areas being able to expand their openings, which could include restaurants for dine-in service and shopping malls.

First they would have to meet criteria like having infection rates of no more than one new case per 10,000 residents in a 14-day period and having no deaths during that same period. Testing capacity would have to rise to the level of having 1.5 tests per 1,000 residents and the region would have to have 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 residents.

The full list of guidelines will be posted on the state’s Department of Public Health website in the coming days.

“This is not etched in stone,” Newsom said. “We want to continue to work with people in industry to continue to modify these.” 
Friday will mark the first day that curbside pickup and delivery for some small retail businesses will be able to operate through city and county directives issued Wednesday.

Guidance on what those businesses would have to provide in the form of sanitizing stations for customers and personal protective equipment for employees will be updated on the state’s COVID-19 website Tuesday, the governor said.

Newsom also called for more federal funding to help the state weather its looming $54 billion budget deficit due to the COVID-19 economic fallout over the past few months.

He said that the state’s financial fortunes had flipped from a year ago when the state reported a $21 billion budget surplus. Just 90 days ago the state projected a $6 billion surplus.

However, the strain brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including nearly $12 billion in unemployment payments since mid-March, have put the state in a tough position—but one that Newsom said the state would survive. He called on the federal government to help.

“One thing we don’t have as a nation-state is a printing press,” Newsom said, referring to the ability to print money.

Newsom made these announcements on a day that the state’s hospitalization, intensive care unit and infection numbers continued a leveling off trend. Deaths in the state, however, continued to rise, with another 92 Californians dying due to COVID-19.

He cautioned that while the state is reopening some businesses and outdoor activities it shouldn’t be seen as a return to normalcy, Newsom said.

“Tell that to 92 families that were destroyed because they lost a loved one in the past 24 hours,” Newsom said.

Jason Ruiz

Newsom expands sick pay mandate to all workforce sectors

2:28 PM Wednesday, May 6 | A previous mandate that allows fast food chain workers access to COVID-19-related sick pay will now extend to all sectors of the economy, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

Newsom said that in spite of his actions last month provide leave for workers in the food sector who test positive for the virus or are forced to quarantine for other reasons, some of the state’s other essential workers, including first responders and nurses, were inadvertently left out.

His announcement of the extension comes on National Nurses Day, something that Newsom noted during his press briefing, adding that it was “the least that we could do.”

“If you’ve tested positive or have been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a physician you are eligible for this workers comp benefit,” Newsom said.

The order will be retroactive to March 15 and will extend for 60 days from Wednesday’s announcement as the state begins to allow individual counties reopen portions of the economy.

The new expanded order, which will require employers to pay employees like nurses, firefighters and other first responders if they contract the virus, will have updated guidelines released in the coming days that could provide more clarity.

Full-time workers would be eligible for two weeks of supplemental sick pay through the order.

Employers will be able to challenge employees’ sick leave claims, but the challenges will have to meet strict standards, Newsom said. He said it will generally be presumed that if a worker becomes ill after returning to work that they contracted it during the course of doing their jobs.

Jason Ruiz

LBCC postpones graduation ceremony, transitions to virtual celebration

1:03 PM Tuesday, May 5 | Due to social-distancing requirements, Long Beach City College today announced its 2020 commencement ceremony will be held virtually on Friday, June 12 at 5 p.m.

The college is producing a recorded ceremony for those receiving their Associate Degree of Arts, Associate Degree of Sciences and Certificates of Achievement. It can be viewed by graduates, friends and family at LBCC.edu.

“The Class of 2020 is an exceptionally determined group of students who deserve all the celebration possible,” said LBCC Interim Superintendent-President Lou Anne Bynum. “Our students, assisted by the incredible work of our faculty, staff and administrators, have persevered.”

Local chef and LBCC alumnus Visoth Tarak Ouk, known as Chef T, is the ceremony’s keynote speaker.

In addition to the virtual ceremony, the class of 2020 has been invited to walk at Veterans Stadium during the LBCC’s 2021 commencement ceremony.

This year’s original in-person ceremony was scheduled for June 4.

Brandon Richardson

Carnival extends Long Beach sailing suspension 2 more months

12:17 PM Tuesday, May 5 | Carnival Cruise Line announced plans this week to phase-in some North American trips from certain ports starting Aug. 1, but cruises from the company’s Long Beach base will continue to be suspended through Aug. 31.

Previously, Carnival had tentatively targeted June 27 as a restart date, but this week’s announcement extends the local suspension through the end of August.

Meanwhile, some cruises will resume elsewhere in the country beginning in early August, using eight ships departing Miami and Port Canaveral, Florida and Galveston, Texas, Carnival said in a statement.

“We are committed to supporting all public health efforts to manage the COVID-19 situation. We are taking a measured approach, focusing our return to service on a select number of homeports where we have more significant operations that are easily accessible by car for the majority of our guests,” Carnival said in the statement.

Affected guests are being notified by email and will have the options of a combined future cruise credit and onboard credit package, or a full refund.

Staff Reports

Officials announce new fatality, 36 new coronavirus cases

5:38 PM Saturday, May 2 | Long Beach officials on Saturday announced one more person has died from coronavirus-related complications, bringing the death toll in the city to 37.

The person was in their 80s with underlying health conditions, according to the city.

Officials also reported a total of 745 cases in the city, up from 709. A total of 41 people are hospitalized with the virus, down from 54 on Friday.

Of the 745 cases, 220 have been confirmed at 18 long-term care facilities. Eleven facilities have active cases.

Officials also urged caution due to the beginning of mosquito season, noting that mosquitoes aren’t known to carry coronavirus, but they can carry other diseases.

Valerie Osier

City expands COVID-19 testing for frontline workers

2:14 PM Friday, May 1 | All frontline essential workers, including those who do not have symptoms, can now receive free COVID-19 testing at select Long Beach locations.

Testing is also available for anyone who is symptomatic.

Frontline essential workers include first responders and employees of essential businesses identified by the Long Beach Health Order.

Frontline essential workers can make an appointment to test at one of the following three testing locations within Long Beach:

  • Jordan Plus High School (walk-up testing), 171 W. Bort St.
  • Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus* (drive-up testing), 1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway
  • St. Mary Medical Center (drive-up testing), 1050 Linden Ave.

Appointments are required for all testing sites. Priority will continue to go to those exhibiting symptoms and individuals who are over 65 years of age or have underlying chronic health conditions. Frontline essential workers wanting to schedule an appointment may visit the testing page on the City’s COVID-19 website or call 562-570-INFO (4636).

Testing availability also continues for anyone exhibiting symptoms, whether they are an essential worker or not, at one of the following six testing locations in Long Beach:

  • Jordan High School, 6500 Atlantic Ave.
  • Cabrillo High School, 2001 Santa Fe Ave.
  • St. Mary Medical Center, 1050 Linden Ave.
  • Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus*, 1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway
  • Long Beach City College, Veterans Memorial Stadium, 5000 E. Lew Davis St.
  • Beginning May 4: Jordan Plus High School, 171 W. Bort St.

Once the Jordan Plus High School testing location begins full operations on Monday, Long Beach will have the capacity to test approximately 1,000 people per day.

Kelly Puente

City to offer coronavirus testing for non-symptomatic frontline workers

4:28 PM Wednesday, April 29 | Beginning on Thursday, Long Beach will offer coronavirus testing for frontline workers regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.

The testing will take place at a new site at Jordan Plus High School (171 W. Bort St.) and is one of 80 testing sites through a  partnership with OptumServe, the federal government health services business of Optum.

The news comes as Long Beach saw a jump in cases Wednesday as the city has ramped up testing in recent weeks. The city on Wednesday reported 629 positive cases for COVID-19, up from 602 on Tuesday. The city also reported three additional deaths, for a total of 36 deaths, all of which were people with underlying health issues.

“We are grateful to Governor Newsom and the County of Los Angeles for establishing this test site in Long Beach, which will allow many residents to get tested,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Increasing testing capacity is critical to tracking, controlling and preventing the spread of COVID-19.”

Testing will take place at Jordan Plus High School, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, with parking available onsite. Staff will administer the nasal-pharyngeal swab test. Appointments are required. Below is key information about the new testing site:

  • Testing on April 30 and May 1 at Jordan Plus will only be available to front line workers including first responders, critical government personnel, health care professionals and grocery workers.
    • Individuals may be asymptomatic.
    • Appointments can only be scheduled via phone.
    • The phone line to schedule appointments will become active on April 29. At that time, essential workers can call 888-634-1123 to make an appointment for April 30 and May 1.
  • Beginning May 4, members of the community experiencing symptoms, in addition to essential workers, can begin to utilize the testing site at Jordan Plus.
  • While the new location is situated in Long Beach, it is not limited to Long Beach residents, and will be convenient to those living in Signal Hill, Rancho Dominguez, Compton, Carson and Bellflower, among other nearby cities.

Beginning Monday, Orange Coast College’s Pacific Coast campus will also offer frontline workers who show no symptoms.

The new site will initially have the capacity to administer 132 tests per day.

The city is also working with Long Beach City College to open another testing site at Veterans Memorial Stadium. With the new testing sites, the city will have the capacity to test more than 700 people per day, in addition to the roughly 250 people per day who can be tested at St. Mary Medical Center.

Click here for more information about the city’s testing.

Kelly Puente

County’s COVID-19 cases reach daily record as officials caution against opening up economy too fast

2:53 PM Wednesday, April 29 | Los Angeles County health officials announced the single largest increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases Wednesday after 1,541 more county residents tested positive for the virus.

LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said that out of the 139,000 tests the county has conducted, there has been a 14% positive test rate in the county, a mark that has not moved in the past few weeks. To date, 22,485 county residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

The county also reported 56 new deaths Wednesday, bringing the total number of people how have died from the virus to 1,056.

Among those who have died, 92% had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said. That data point has also held consistent and Ferrer reiterated the stay at home messaging for the county’s most vulnerable residents.

“It’s so important for those who have underlying health conditions to please do your best to stay at home,” Ferrer said, adding that they should even limit direct contact with family members if possible.

An image from the county’s Wednesday’s briefing showing projects of physical distancing guidelines and what could happen if they’re relaxed.

She said that the uptick in positive cases could be partially attributed to an uptick in testing and because of a lag in results from tests performed over the weekend. She noted that the county’s midweek briefings have often held the largest numerical increases.

While the Ferrer confirmed an increase in positive cases both she and Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services, said that the stay at home order and physical distancing have helped the county to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

Ghaly stood before images of a new model that showed predictions of how and when physical distancing guidelines are lifted how that could impact transmission rates of the virus. If the current guidelines remain in place, it is projected about 12% of the county would be infected by Aug. 1. If they were taken away completely, 99% of the county would be infected by COVID-19.

“Safer at home and physical distancing is working and has been effective in flattening the curve in LA County,” Ghaly said, adding that physical distancing will be the new normal for quite some time.

Jason Ruiz

Governor announces expanded food bank partnerships, updates to EBT benefits

2:05 PM Wednesday, April 29 | Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new partnership between California farmers and the state’s food banks Thursday that will help pair excess food with residents who are experiencing food insecurity.

Newsom said the new program, which includes a partnership between farmers, ranchers, the federal government, the state and philanthropists, will direct as much as 21 million pounds of California grown food to the state’s food banks.

“We’re here in the bread basket of the world and we want to address that mismatch and work with farmers and connect them with food banks,” Newsom said.

The state had previously issued a $20 million grant to help food banks across the state, a move that Newsom said resulted in 900,000 boxes of food being given to families in need.

The program would expand this would allow for participating growers and producers of fresh foods to receive a 15% tax credit. Newsom said the program has already raised $3.6 million.

Newsom said it will link over 120 farmers with 41 food banks across the state to deliver food that would “literally be thrown away.” A growing list of about 200 other producers have expressed interest in joining, Newsom said.

The governor also announced two amendments to the state’s food stamp program, Calfresh. Newsom said the state has received a federal waiver to allow those using the program to shop online.

Previously the state’s Calfresh cards could only be used for in-person transactions at grocery stores, farmers markets and some fast food locations. Now, Newsom said they’ll be able to use their cards for online purchases from Walmart and Amazon.

Newsom said he’s hoping the state will be able to expand that network of stores.

A second waiver announced by Newsom will allow the state to use “pandemic EBT waiver” funds to issue up to $365 additional dollars to children and families who were eligible for free or reduced-cost breakfast and lunches at schools, all of which have been forced closed by COVID-19.

“Because we shut down the schools, those meals where the universe of about 3.8 million children are eligible, those programs aren’t always providing those meals in every case,” Newsom said.

There is approximately $1.4 billion that the state could use from the federal CARES Act to fund these additional payments to eligible families. The payment period would extend from the period that schools were closed in March through the end of the school year in June.

Jason Ruiz

City launches survey on reopening local economy

6:31 PM Tuesday, April 28 | On Tuesday evening, the city of Long Beach launched an online survey to collect input from residents, workers and business owners regarding the reopening process for Long Beach businesses.

“We think the best ideas and most innovative ideas are going to come from the small business owners who know their business and customers,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a press release.

The results of the ReopenLB survey will be used to guide the city’s reopening efforts once Gov. Gavin Newsom deems it safe to gradually lift the lockdown, according to the release.

Respondents will be asked whether they feel safe to return to work or reopen their businesses. The results of the survey will be shared with the City Council.

The survey will remain open until Monday May 4, 5 p.m. and can be accessed at www.longbeach.gov/ReopenLB.

Alena Maschke

Long Beach businesses can now apply for Payroll Protection Program through city partner

11:59 AM Monday, April 27 | The City of Long Beach has a new partnership to help local small businesses navigate the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan application process.

Rather than having to work through a bank or financial institution to submit an application and manage a loan, small businesses can now apply for the PPP through the National Development Council’s online portal.

The council is a nationwide non-profit group that raises and directs capital funding to projects in low-income communities. A longtime partner with the city on community development projects, the council recently became a lender for the PPP program.

Long Beach small businesses can apply through the NDC’s PPP application portal.

City of Long Beach staff are also available to answer COVID-19 business and worker-related questions through the Business Hotline and Call Center at 562-570-4BIZ (4249) on online through the Economic Development department.

Staff Reports

Long Beach officials announce 26 new COVID-19 cases; no new deaths

2:41 PM Saturday, April 25 | Long Beach officials on Saturday said there were no new deaths related to the coronavirus, but 26 additional people tested positive for the virus, bringing the city’s total to 566 cases.

Of the total amount of cases, 172 are associated with eight long-term care facilities in the city. Of the 29 total fatalities in Long Beach, 24 are associated with these facilities, according to officials. In all the fatal cases, each individual had underlying health conditions.

Officials on Friday began to offer more details about the number of cases among residents and staff at five nursing homes.

Details on the coronavirus cases at Long Beach long-term care facilities as of April 25, 2020.

Officials reported 43 people are currently hospitalized and approximately 323 people have recovered from the virus in Long Beach.

The city also reminded residents that beaches and beach parking lots are closed throughout the weekend, even with the small heat wave. Police will deploy more patrols in and around parks and beach areas to make sure people comply with the city’s health order, officials said.

“Walking paths in public parks are open for the purpose of engaging in outdoor essential activities provided that social distancing requirements are strictly followed,” officials said.

Valerie Osier

Mayor announces 2 more deaths; testing for COVID-19 will soon be expanded

3:22 PM Friday, April 24 | Long Beach on Friday reported that two more people died from coronavirus, bringing its total deaths to 29, and 22 new cases of the illness for a total of 540 cases.

Mayor Robert Garcia said at a press briefing that COVID-19 is on track to become the leading cause of death in the city, similar to what the county announced Thursday.

Garcia also said the city and its private partners have now tested a total of 5,800 people, and is looking to expand that testing beyond those who are symptomatic.

The city will begin with offering tests to all residents and staff at nursing homes, which have been hotbed for the virus. The city may then extend testing to first responders who interact with the public.

Garcia noted that this will be rolled out slowly in order to prevent backlogs from occurring in getting test results.

“We want to make sure that as we transition, we’re doing it the right way,” he said.

The city now has testing centers at Jordan and Cabrillo high schools, Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus, and St. Mary Medical Center. Garcia said the city is also working to open additional testing centers, with announcements coming.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated to reflect that the city has tested 5,800 people total, not that it has capacity to test 5,800 per day. 

Melissa Evans

Carnival Panorama departs Long Beach for Philippines, Indonesia

4:41 PM Thursday, April 23 | Normally homeported in Long Beach, the Carnival Panorama is on the way across the Pacific Ocean, bound for the Philippines and Indonesia to return many crew members to their home countries.

The 1,060-foot-long ship can normally hold over 5,000 passengers—but is now serving a new mission to repatriate crew members stuck on board during the shutdown impacting the cruise industry. Industry website CruiseRadio.net first reported that the Panorama departed Long Beach harbor over the weekend for an 8,200-mile journey, first to Manila, where it is expected to arrive on May 8, then on to Indonesia.

“As the company moves to safe operational manning levels during our pause in operations,” said Carnival in a public statement, “we have begun the process of returning healthy crew members to their home countries throughout the world [by] utilizing some of our fleet as transport, given the limited number of commercial flights and charter options.”

This is the second long distance journey for the brand-new Panorama. The 133,500-ton ship departed from the Fincantieri shipyard in Italy on Nov. 1 and made its way around the tip of South America in December. After a 17,000 mile journey, the Panorama arrived at its new home in Long Beach, marking the first new Carnival cruise vessel to be based on the West Coast in 20 years.

Carnival is currently targeting June 27 as the tentative date to resume cruises.

Staff Reports

Long Beach reports 29 new positive cases of coronavirus; no new deaths

4:32 PM Thursday, April 23 | Long Beach officials reported the city now has confirmed 518 cases of coronavirus, up from 489 on Wednesday. No new deaths were reported, with the city’s total remaining at 27.

Eight of the new reported cases were found in local nursing homes which have been an epicenter for the virus, both locally and regionally. Of the city’s deaths, 22 were associated with long-term care facilities, and all had underlying health conditions.

Close to 300 people are believed to have recovered from COVID-19.

The city is now reporting more details on where the cases are located by ZIP code and other demographic data about those who have been infected on a new dashboard.

Staff Reports

Students to get reprieve on loan repayment; stimulus checks can no longer be garnished

12:21 PM Thursday, April 23 | In his daily briefing, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday said 21 of the 24 largest student loan servicers have agreed to a 90-day halt on requiring payments for student loan debt.

Students will not face any late fees or fines during that time, and will be provided support to develop new payment plans as the response to COVID-19 continues to ravage the economy.

It was not immediately clear which loan servicers would participate.

Newsom also announced that he signed an executive order prohibiting debt collectors to garnish federal stimulus checks through the federal CARES Act. The order is also retroactive, which will allow those who already received the money and had it taken to recoup the money.

“If you did garnish those checks, you gotta give them back,” Newsom said.

Exceptions to the order include money owed for spousal support and victim’s funds.

The announcements came on the same day that unemployment claims topped 26 million over the last five weeks.

Melissa Evans

Virgin Orbit to begin delivering ventilators in coming days

11:09 AM Thursday, April 23 | Long Beach-based rocket maker Virgin Orbit said today it is ready to deliver new “bridge” ventilators to hospitals in the next few days after receiving emergency authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Mayor Robert Garcia announced late last month that the local company was working to develop the devices as part of a consortium with UC Irvine.

The ventilator developed by Virgin “is in essence a very simple, very reliable, mechanical device designed to automate common manual resuscitators,” according to a statement from the company. The devices are used to treat patients with respiratory failure, a symptom of the COVID-19 virus.

The rocket maker is producing about 100 ventilators per week, the company said, and expects to deliver 100 of them to California’s Emergency Medical Services Authority in coming days.

“Our team is so grateful to have the opportunity to channel our energies in a way that can hopefully make a difference in this crisis,” Virgin Orbit CEO Dan Hart said in a written statement.

Staff Reports

City reports 3 new coronavirus deaths linked to long-term care facilities

2:03 PM Wednesday, April 22 | Three more people linked to long-term care facilities have died from coronavirus, bringing the city’s total deaths to 27, officials said Wednesday.

Overall, the city saw 489 positive cases, up from 477 cases on Tuesday. Those numbers include 44 people who are hospitalized and approximately 288 cases where people have recovered. 

As nursing homes continue to be an epicenter for coronavirus, the city has confirmed 147 cases in seven long-term care facilities. Of the 27 totals death, 22 have been linked to nursing homes.

Los Angeles County on Wednesday reported 66 new deaths for a total of 729. The county reported 1,318 new cases for a total of 16,425.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in a news conference said 40% of the county’s deaths have been linked to skilled nursing homes.

In an effort to fight the growing problem in nursing facilities, the county on Wednesday announced a plan to test all individuals in those facilities, even if they have not shown any symptoms, Ferrer said.

She said health officials needed to change their strategy as many people are asymptomatic but still spreading the disease. The county’s health department also hired five new employees who who will work specific to prevent the spread of coronavirus in nursing facilities.

The county this week began reporting the number of cases per facility and plans to begin including the number of deaths at each facility later this week.

The county’s new data on skilled nursing facilities comes amid calls for more transparency on the number of cases in nursing homes, which are hotspots for the virus because of their vulnerable populations.

Long Beach, which has its own health department, provides names of long-term care facilities that have confirmed coronavirus cases and fatalities. However, the city releases only overall numbers for the group, making it impossible to determine whether one or more facilities could account for the bulk of infections and deaths. The city has not released the number of deaths per facility.

On Friday, the California Department of Public Health released some data on infection rates in long-term care facilities, although the list is incomplete and does not include three Long Beach facilities that have reported cases. The list does not include deaths at facilities.

Last week, Long Beach issued a new health order for long-term care facilities mandating tighter visitation policies and daily temperature screenings, the city is also prioritizing lab testing for both residents and staff and providing personal protective equipment for facilities that do not have sufficient supplies.

Kelly Puente

Governor says hospitals can resume elective surgeries

12:56 PM Wednesday, April 22 | In one step toward loosening statewide stay-at-home restrictions, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday said hospitals can resume elective surgeries, but the state must meet several criteria before residents can return to work and school.

The governor in a news conference said it’s still too soon to lift other restrictions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, noting that the state must first increase testing capacity, with the goal of 60,000 tests a day.

Currently, the state is conducting 16,000 tests daily, with the goal of 25,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

Newsom said there is no clear date on when the stay-at-home order would be lifted.

But for now, the state will allow scheduled surgeries, such as those for tumors or heart valves, Newsom said. He noted that many people have postponed essential surgeries, which could result serious health complications.

“We know this is a fundamental health issue and we’re working with health directors in the healthcare delivery system to get scheduled surgeries up and running again,” he said. “We’re making sure we’re doing this while considering the safety of our healthcare system and our healthcare workers.”

The news comes as healthcare workers across the country are seeing furloughs and layoffs as fewer people are scheduling elective surgeries and visiting emergency rooms out of fear of contracting coronavirus. 

While hospitals have made room to prepare for an increase in coronavirus cases, some states, including California, have yet to see a surge.

In Long Beach as of Tuesday, 45 people were hospitalized for coronavirus.

As for other restrictions, Newsom the state must increase its testing capacity, especially in rural and urban areas.

The state on Tuesday announced 86 news testing centers in rural areas and communities of color, which have been disproportionately impacted by the disease.

Last week, the state announced six sets of indicators to decide when it will be safe to gradually lift restrictions.

Newsom said large gatherings like sporting events and concerts — even school assemblies or physical education classes — are out for the foreseeable future, and businesses will have to enforce social distancing and other safeguards.

He warned that intermittent stay-at-home orders could be the new normal as the coronavirus flares up in certain parts of the state once restrictions are eventually eased.

Before that happens, officials must be sure:

— They have enough routine and widespread testing to monitor the population at large for coronavirus infections, and have the ability to trace patients’ recent contacts and isolate or quarantine those who test positive or may have been exposed to someone who has the virus.

— They can protect the most vulnerable populations: those who are older, have underlying health issues, or are in crowded settings like nursing homes, prisons or jails.

— That the state’s health care system can handle surges, with enough ventilators, staff and personal protective equipment ready to go.

— That it has the best known treatment options identified and in proper supply to meet demand, and is working with academia, technology companies and medical researchers to develop more and better options.

— That businesses, schools, and child care facilities can function while keeping people at least six feet apart to limit coronavirus spread.

— Finally, that they can quickly reimpose restrictions like stay-at-home orders if the virus flares again.

The Associated Press contributed to this report 

Kelly Puente

Long Beach reports 2 more coronavirus deaths; both connected to long-term care facilities

2:31 PM Monday, April 20 | Two more people—both with underlying health conditions and connected to long-term care facilities—have died from complications of COVID-19, bringing the city’s total to 24, officials said Monday.

The overall total of positive cases was 464, up from 457 on Sunday. Of those, 125 have been connected to seven long-term care facilities.

Of the 24 people who have died, all had underlying health conditions and 19 were connected to long-term care facilities like nursing homes, which continue to see surges in infection rates in both residents and staff.

Long Beach, like many jurisdictions, has so far declined to release detailed information on outbreaks and fatalities in nursing homes, including how many people have died from coronavirus in individual long-term care facilities.

For the first time on Friday, the California Department of Public Health released some data on infections rates in long-term care facilities, although the list is incomplete and does not include three Long Beach facilities that have reported cases. The list does not include deaths at facilities.

State officials on Saturday said the list will be updated “regularly” and represents a “point in time snapshot” of 86% of facilities that have voluntarily reported data with the past 24 hours. Of the 1,224 skilled nursing’s facilities in the state, 261 have reported at least one case of coronavirus.

“We are working with skilled nursing facilities on a reporting system that will ensure we can publicly report 100 percent of facilities in the coming days,” state health officials said in a statement.

The list shows that Broadway by the Sea, 2725 E. Broadway, has seen the biggest outbreak with 26 residents and 14 staff members who have contracted the virus.

State health officials said they will not provide specific numbers if there are less than 11 cases in a facility in an effort to “protect patient privacy and be in compliance with patient privacy laws.”

At Pacific Palms Healthcare, 1020 Termino Ave., 12 staff members and less than 11 residents have contracted the virus, while Bixby Knolls Towers, 3737 Atlantic Ave., has less than 11 staff members infected.

Royal Care Skilled Nursing Center, 2725 Pacific Ave., has reported less than 11 cases for both staff and residents.

Long Beach Healthcare Center and Pacific Palms Healthcare have not yet reported data.

Kelly Puente

California reports its 1st state prison inmate death caused by coronavirus

7:46 AM Monday, April 20 | California reported its first state prison inmate death from COVID-19 on Sunday as the state steps up efforts to prevent outbreaks among vulnerable populations, including people living in nursing homes, on the streets or in homeless shelters.

The inmate died at a hospital after contracting the coronavirus at the California Institution for Men in San Bernardino County, the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said in a statement.

No further details were released to protect the inmate’s medical privacy, and next of kin was notified. Statewide, 115 inmates and 89 corrections employees have tested positive for the coronavirus, corrections officials said.

Although this was the first inmate to die in California’s state prison system, there have already been deaths in federal custody including two inmates at the Terminal Island prison.

Read the full story here.

The Associated Press

City launches specialized paramedic team to handle likely COVID-19 cases

5:44 PM Sunday, April 19 | The Long Beach Fire Department is launching a specialized team to handle suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients, city officials said today.

The team, called the Mobile Assessment Team (MAT), will be made up of two paramedics and one ambulance, authorities said.

The team will operate out of a central location in the city and be dispatched to patients who are known to have COVID-19 or who have symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath, coughing or flu-like symptoms, Long Beach said in a news release.

“This new mobile team will ensure that we are containing the spread of COVID-19 as best as possible and I’m grateful to our Fire Department for creating this new unit,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement.

The team will be outfitted with personal protective equipment and will undergo specialized sanitizing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, authorities said.

“This sanitation process will be completed at a predesignated location to mitigate any potential spread to other facilities, equipment and materials,” the city said.

The team will be staffed 12 hours a day, seven days a week, according to Long Beach officials.

Staff Reports

City reports another COVID-19 death at nursing home, 12 new cases

5:17 PM Sunday, April 19 | A man in his 80s was the latest person to die from COVID-19 in Long Beach, according to local health officials who also reported 12 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease on Sunday.

Officials said the man had underlying health condition and was living in a long-term care facility, which have been hotbeds for the disease, accounting for 17 of the city’s 22 deaths. City officials have resisted revealing numbers of deaths or cases at each facility, instead revealing citywide totals and names of nursing homes with active cases.

The latest figures bring the city’s total number of confirmed cases to 457, with 125 of them associated with long-term care facilities. Those figures include 50 hospitalized patients—two more since Saturday—and about 243 people who have recovered.

Los Angeles County overall reported 24 more deaths today and 334 newly confirmed cases bringing the overall total to 600 deaths and 12,341 cases. It often takes a day or two for Long Beach’s latest numbers to be included in the county’s tally because the city has its own health department.

Read more about the county’s number’s here.

Stephanie Rivera

LA county reports 40 more deaths, bringing total to 567

1:53 PM Friday, April 17 | Los Angeles County health officials today announced 40 more deaths due to the coronavirus pandemic, bringing the total number to 495.

Another 567 people in the county tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, bringing the county total to 11,391.

Of the positive cases, 3,014 have needed to be hospitalized, which represents 26% of all positive cases, said Barbara Ferrer, the county health officer.

The death total includes 177 people who live in institutional settings, the majority of them in skilled nursing and assisted living facilities, she said. Throughout the county, 228 institutional settings have reported at least one case of COVID-19, with four nursing homes in the county reporting outbreaks of 40 or more cases, she said.

Ferrer said the virus has affected many health care workers. A total of 1,441 of these workers, including nurses, physicians and others, have tested positive. Five healthcare workers have died as a result, three of them nurses.

“These workers, all of them, all of our health care workers, help us when we’re sick, and they are our heroes,” Ferrer said.

County officials said 87% of the people who’ve died have had underlying health conditions.

Los Angeles County will soon have the ability to test up to 1,000 people a day in its labs and has opened 30 testing sites across the region.

Getting more testing sites online is a critical step to move toward recovery from the pandemic response, Ferrer said.

Staff Reports

Governor to mandate COVID-19 sick leave for workers in California’s food supply chain

4:05 PM Thursday, April 16 | Grocery store workers, fast food employees and others that are part of the state’s food supply chain could be in line for additional paid sick leave after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new executive order Thursday that will mandate it for those workers affected by COVID-19.

Newsom made the announcement at the start of Thursday’s COVID-19 briefing where he said that additional steps were needed to protect those essential workers who are on the front lines every day.

“This is a serious issue and requires a serious response and a much more comprehensive response than we have offered,” Newsom said. “The grocery lines are also the front lines.”

The new order would require companies to provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave for workers in the food supply chain—farming, packaging, delivery, fast food, grocers—to any employee who is forced to isolate or quarantine, or becomes ill themselves. For part-time workers the amount of paid sick leave provided would be based on the hours previously worked by those employees.

Employees having to use the new COVID-19 paid leave would not be required to exhaust any accrued vacation or sick hours that are normally provided by their employers according to the text of the executive order.

“A lot of folks could have easily dialed it in, filed for unemployment and waited for this to pass,” Newsom said, adding that he had a deep admiration for those workers who continue to show up to their jobs. “No one that I know of in this essential work force has done that.”

Newsom said the move was to close a “quite profound” gap that existed after the passage of the federal level Families First Coronavirus Response Act which targeted employers with 500 or fewer employees. Newsom’s order would target larger workforces.

The order also included language that expanded hand-washing requirements to permit workers time to wash their hands on an as-needed basis, or at least every 30 minutes, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The governor’s order comes on the same day that he announced another 69 COVID-19 related deaths across the state as the running total for infections statewide reached 27,634.

Jason Ruiz

LA County announces record COVID-19 death toll for third straight day

2:15 PM Thursday, April 16 | Los Angeles County health officials reported the deadliest day yet in the COVID-19 pandemic, reporting that 55 individuals died of the illness.

Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said that the county also counted 399 new cases of COVID-19. The death toll, the third straight it has reached a record high, continues to “highlight the the devastating impacts” of the virus. A total of 455 people have died countywide.

Ferrer said that of those who have died, 88% had underlying health conditions. She added that the county’s mortality rate for COVID-19 is now at 4.2%. Countywide there are nearly 1,600 people currently hospitalized, with nearly a third of those in intensive care units across the county.

Of those patients, 22% are on ventilators, Ferrer said. Despite the high numbers of deaths being reported by the county, Ferrer was optimistic that the county could be flattening the curve while it sees a daily rise in death totals.

The arc the county is on could be similar to what New York experienced, where rate of infection tapered off while the city simultaneously saw some of its deadliest days, she said.

While there have been numerous companies throughout the region advertising tests that can determine if you have COVID-19, Ferrer said that they’re different from the ones the county is using and not as reliable.

The county’s various testing stations use a molecular test that can determine if a person currently has COVID-19, while serology tests, which test for antibodies, can only tell if a person had the virus at some point. They can’t determine if a person has developed immunity to the virus, Ferrer cautioned.

“These [the county’s tests] are the only tests that are appropriate for testing for COVID-19 at this time,” Ferrer said.

Jason Ruiz

UPS donates 10,000 N95 surgical masks to LBPD, LBFD

11:23 AM Thursday, April 16 | Shipping giant UPS donated 10,000 N95 surgical masks to the ranks of Long Beach fire and police Wednesday, with the chiefs of both departments on hand to accept the donations.

The effort was coordinated by Bruce DD MacRae, who is president of the Long Beach Police Foundation, and Laura Lane in the public affairs department at UPS.

“Since Long Beach is one of the hotspots for the State of California, this was an easy call for UPS,” officials said.

Chief Robert Luna of the police department and Chief Xavier Espino of the fire department accepted the donated masks, which are in high demand as first responders grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Staff Reports

DMV extends expiring licenses during pandemic

4:15 PM Wednesday, April 15 | The California Department of Motor Vehicles is extending driver’s licenses expiring during the statewide shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The department had already offered a 120-day, automatic extension to drivers over 70, who are currently receiving the corresponding documents in the mail. The new announcement now applies the same extensions to younger drivers whose licenses were set to expire between March and May.

This category of drivers won’t need to take any action to receive the extension, but they won’t receive a document in the mail either. Those who need documentation that their license has been extended can request a free extension document online. Californians with a suspended license are not eligible.

According to the department, law enforcement agencies have been informed of the extensions.

All commercial driver licenses, endorsements and certificates expiring between March and June 2020 are now valid through June 30, 2020, in alignment with a recent emergency declaration from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Last month, the department broadened the categories of drivers who can renew their licenses online, as long as they meet certain criteria.

The DMV has closed field offices across the state, but is planning to reopen with new protocols and restrictions in place. A timeline for the return of in-person services is yet to be announced. In-person driving tests have been canceled until further notice to conform with social distancing guidelines.

Alena Maschke

Long Beach’s COVID-19 death toll rises to 18; hospitalizations also increase

1:08 PM Wednesday, April 15 | Long Beach officials on Wednesday announced that one more person has died of complications from COVID-19, bringing the total deaths in the city to 18.

The newest fatality, identified only as a man associated with a local long-term care facility, had underlying health conditions, according to Long Beach officials. In all, 13 of the city’s fatal cases have been associated with long-term care facilities like nursing homes or assisted-living centers.

However, there was some good news on that front today. After weeks of seeing cases mount in about half a dozen facilities, one nursing home, Glen Park Assisted Living, has gone 14 days without any new COVID-19 cases, the city announced today.

In total, the city has seen 379 cases of coronavirus since early March. Of the total number of cases, 84 positive cases were confirmed at seven nursing homes in the city.

Right now, 49 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, up from 40 yesterday.

Separately, Los Angeles County reported 42 new deaths today, the highest single-day total so far.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia is expected to announce more details at a 3 p.m. press conference today.

Valerie Osier

3 more dead as coronavirus continues to spread in Long Beach nursing homes

4:45 PM Tuesday, April 14 | The number of deaths in Long Beach from COVID-19 complications continued to climb on Tuesday with three more fatalities, bringing the total to 17. Two of the deaths announced today are connected to nursing homes or other long-term care facilities, which now account for 12 of the city’s fatalities.

The latest cases included a man and two women—all with underlying health conditions.

The overall number of positive cases continued to climb, but at a slower rate compared with previous weeks. On Tuesday, the city reported 363 positive cases, up from 350 on Monday.

Read the full story here.

Kelly Puente

What’s the status with antibody testing? Long Beach health officials address the issue

4:46 PM Monday, April 13 | With the coronavirus conversation now shifting to antibody testing to determine who is immune and can go back to work, city health officials warned such research is still in its infancy.

During an afternoon press conference on Monday, City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said there are more than 70 companies marketing antibody testing, but only one is FDA approved.

“There are a lot of companies that are making false claims so at this point what I would recommend is to be really cautious about utilizing an antibody test,” Davis said.

Current studies are determining how effective antibody testing is and how accurate its results are, as well as what those results can be used for.

“It’s thought that we can use antibody testing more to determine that you’ve been exposed to the virus and that you may be immune to the virus, rather than diagnosing an infection,” Davis said.

In an NBC News interview published today, Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that while the testing could reveal the extent of infections nationwide, it hasn’t proven that an individual can develop protective immunity once they develop antibodies.

“It’s still a scientific hypothesis that this virus will lead to protective immunity of some duration,” Redfield told NBC News.

The CDC defines antibodies as proteins produced by one’s body to neutralize or destroy toxins or disease-carrying organisms. Immunity to a disease is achieved through the presence of antibodies.

“I think there is this assumption that it may accelerate confidence in some individuals in returning [to work] as though I’m immune, but I really think its major role is going to be in more of a public health role and the impact that it has, as we try to develop some alternative care delivery mechanisms to be available for fall and winter, when in fact we will probably have additional coronavirus infections,” Redfield went on to say.

At the press conference, Davis urged the community to stay tuned for new information coming out quickly.

“But right now we’re still in the figuring-things-out phase,” Davis said.

Stephanie Rivera

Long Beach reports 2 new deaths from coronavirus; marking 11 deaths within a week

1:23 PM Monday, April 13 | Two more Long Beach residents—both women with underlying health conditions—have died from complications related to COVID-19, marking 11 deaths in the span of a week, according to numbers released Monday.

Overall, the city reported 350 positive cases of the coronavirus, up from 337 on Sunday. That includes 48 people who are hospitalized and approximately 148 cases where people have recovered.

The latest numbers show an alarming increase of cases in nursing homes. Of the total 14 deaths, 10 are associated with long-term care facilities. The city has so far reported 73 positive cases in six long-term care facilities.

The cases include both facility residents and staff members. Of the fatalities, all have had underlying health conditions and range in ages from 50s to 80s.

Across Los Angeles County, at least 320 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died, according to authorities, an increase of 25 from Sunday.

Another 239 people tested positive for the virus Monday, the smallest single-day increase since March 26—something county public health director Barbara Ferrer called “a good thing.” In all, there are at least 9,420 confirmed cases across LA County.

The county’s mortality rate continued to climb, reaching 3.4% Monday, according to Ferrer, who said one contributing factor to the rate rising recently is that people can be sick with the disease for a time before the take a turn for the worse and die.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia will give a news briefing 3 p.m. today. The briefing will be livestreamed on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @LongBeachCity.

Kelly Puente

Coronavirus Relief Fund tops $1 million; over 30 nonprofits receive grants

1:13 PM Monday, April 13 | The Long Beach Coronavirus Relief Fund has received over $1 million in donations to support local nonprofits helping the community’s most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Launched just under a month ago by the city and the Long Beach Community Foundation, the relief fund has received donations from the community, businesses and family foundations.

“We are seeing unprecedented levels of compassion during these difficult times and I am so proud of the work that is being done through the non-profits to support our community,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement.

These nonprofits provide food, shelter, rental assistance and resources for businesses.

Now, however, officials said they are adding priority funding for nonprofits that support emergency health workers (like those who assist community clinics and hospitals with overflow patients) and support mental health and domestic violence sheltering.

“Careful advanced planning, an in-depth knowledge of the community and its nonprofits helped launch this program efficiently, which is benefiting thousands of Long Beach residents right now where the need is the greatest,” said foundation President and CEO Marcelle Epley.

Organizations are awarded up to $20,000 each, with 31 nonprofits having already received grants, according to the nonprofit.

Click here to see the list of nonprofits awarded grants. Click here to apply for a grant.

To make a contribution text “SupportLB” to 501-55, pay via PayPal @SupportLB, or mail a check to the Long Beach Community Foundation, 400 Oceangate, Suite 800, Long Beach, CA and write Long Beach Coronavirus Relief Fund in the memo section. You can also pay with your credit card by visiting longbeachcf.org.

Stephanie Rivera

Carnival Cruise suspends sailings through June 26

10:28 AM Monday, April 13 | Carnival Cruise Line has suspended its North American sailings through June 26 amid the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced Monday.

Carnival had originally planned to resume service on May 10 but has now extended its suspension following orders from the Centers for Disease Control. The company plans to resume sailing on June 27.

“This is disappointing, but we are committed to being a strong partner with the government and taking steps to maintain public confidence in our business,” the company said in a statement.

The sailing suspension will impact the cruise lines in Long Beach and will likely have a greater impact on the local economy. In December, the 133,500-ton Carnival Panorama made its new home in Long Beach, marking the first new Carnival cruise vessel to be based on the West Coast in 20 years.

City officials had anticipated that the Panorama would log about 1.5 million passenger movements for 2020, and bring in an estimated $3 million annually through the passenger fees.

Kelly Puente

In first weekend of stay-at-home enforcement, no citations required, police say

8:45 AM Monday, April 13 | Despite warnings that officers would step up enforcement of the city’s stay-at-home order over the Easter weekend, Long Beach police said they didn’t see the need to write any citations or arrest anyone for breaking social distancing rules.

Police have been reluctant to write tickets for people violating Long Beach’s rules meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus—instead they’re trying to get them to comply voluntarily, but last week, LBPD Chief Robert Luna said in a telephone town hall meeting that officers would be given the discretion to cite people people starting over the Easter weekend.

“That is absolutely the last thing we want to do as a police department,” Luna said. “But we also understand that the health of our neighbors are the top priority.”

A man walks his dog along Bluff Park on Sunday, March 29, 2020. Photo by Bill Alkofer.

The decision came as Long Beach implemented even stricter rules on Easter, including entirely shuttering all parks even for passive uses like biking and walking. The parks reopened for those uses—with 6-foot social distancing—on Monday.

Residents apparently took heed, with green spaces like El Dorado Park deserted on Sunday. That meant police didn’t write a single citation or make any arrests in connection with the stay-at-home order, LBPD spokesman Ivan Garcia said Monday morning.

Violating the health order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of between $50 and $1,000, and/or by jail time of not more than 90 days. There can also be civil penalties for nonessential businesses that flout the city’s orders to close.

“Although our officers will have the discretion to issue citations, we are asking everyone to do the right thing and voluntarily comply with these orders. Minimizing the spread of the virus is a shared responsibility,” Luna said in a statement last week, noting that some people still aren’t obeying with the rules.

Jeremiah Dobruck

2 more die of COVID-19 as nursing homes continue to be hardest hit

5:01 PM Sunday, April 12 | Two more people have died of complications from the coronavirus in Long Beach. City officials said today that both victims were connected to long-term care facilities, where COVID-19 has continued to be at its most deadly.

In all, 12 people have died in connection with the virus, according to the city’s daily media briefing. Nine of them were associated with long-term care facilities such as nursing homes or assisted living centers.

Health officials also announced five new confirmed cases of the virus, a relatively small number compared to increases in recent days, but local and county health officials have said numbers can be deceivingly low over the weekend because not all labs report results outside of normal business hours.

In all, Long Beach has 337 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Out of that number, 71 cases have been at six long-term care facilities where patients have tested positive.

Read the full story here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Reaching another grim high, LA County reports 31 COVID-19 deaths today

4:59 PM Sunday, April 12 | Health officials for Los Angeles County reported 31 additional deaths from COVID-19 today and 323 new cases, bringing the county’s totals to 296 deaths and 9,192 cases.

That amount of deaths is the largest single-day jump in the county so far, according to the Los Angeles Times. Because Long Beach has its own health department, county’s tally of deaths does not include the most up-to-date numbers from the city, including—but not limited to—two new deaths today.

“As many Angelenos celebrate the Easter holiday today, I want to acknowledge those families that are grieving the loss of a loved one associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health. “…I also want to thank everyone for continuing to do their part to help suppress this virus; please stay at home whenever possible and when you go out in public, wear a cloth face covering.”

As of Sunday, 2,246 people who tested positive for COVID-19 (24% of positive cases) have been hospitalized at some point during their illness Ferrer said. She added that testing capacity continues to increase in the county, with results available for more than 47,000 individuals and 14% of people testing positive.

The county’s mortality rate from the illness—the percentage of people with the disease who have died—crept upward on Friday, reaching 2.9%. The county’s mortality rate last week was 1.8%.

According to Ferrer, around 28% of the people who have died from coronavirus in the county were residents of nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities. The county is investigating cases at 159 “institutional settings,” such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons that have had at least one case. Those institutions have had a total of 1,062 cases and 67 deaths, all among residents.

Long Beach’s long-term health care facilities have been similarly hard-hit, accounting for nine out of the city’s 12 deaths.

A total of 53 cases have been confirmed in the county’s jails—eight inmates and 45 staff members. There were also 23 cases in prisons, while two staff members at the county juvenile hall in Sylmar have also tested positive.

The numbers came as Angelenos celebrated an unusual Easter Sunday in which not only churches but all county parks and nature areas were closed to the public in an effort to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus.

The countywide parks closure was ordered “with the top priority being the health and safety of our park guests, team members, and community,” said Norma E. Garcia, acting director of L.A. County Parks and Recreation. “We know Easter is day of celebration for many park guests and fun tradition for LA County Parks, and we appreciate the public’s support and understanding as we collectively work to flatten the curve of the coronavirus.”

Long Beach also shuttered its parks for Easter Sunday.

City News Service

El Dorado Park, usually filled with egg hunts and family gatherings on Easter, sits empty

2:38 PM Sunday, April 12 | El Dorado Park, the largest park in the city, usually attracts its biggest crowds on Easter Sunday, a day filled with egg hunts, barbecues and family gatherings.

This time, however, stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus outbreak have left the 450-acre regional park deserted. Today, the only movement comes from the ducks swimming in nearby ponds and birds flying between trees.

The full-blown closure is only for today and intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, officials said Friday. Even passive recreational activities like biking, walking and running—which are usually allowed even during the pandemic—are banned.

A sign advises the public that the road is closed within El Dorado Park on Sunday, April 12, 2020. Photo by Tim Grobaty.

“Closing parks on Easter Sunday is a difficult but necessary step to protect the health of our community,” Mayor Robert Garcia said during Friday’s closure announcement. “We realize the impact this will have during this important holiday and are asking for your cooperation to save lives.”

To help enforce this one-day closure, Long Beach police increased their patrol of the park, but so far, it seems Long Beach residents have gotten the message, at least at El Dorado.

Police spokesman Rudy Garcia said it’s been quiet, with no reported activity and no citations needed to enforce the closure.

Stephanie Rivera

Officials report 16 new cases of COVID-19, 1 new death

3:03 PM Saturday, April 11 | Long Beach officials on Saturday reported a woman in her 70s with underlying health conditions has died from complications due to coronavirus, bringing the total number of deaths in the city to 10.

Of the 10, all had underlying health conditions and seven are associated with long-term care facilities. Two victims were in their 50s, two were in their 60s, one was in their 70s, and five were over 80. Seven victims were women and three were men, according to officials.

Officials reported 332 positive COVID-19 cases, up from the 316 reported on Friday. The number of cases will continue to rise as testing becomes more widely available, health officials have said. This week, Long Beach opened its first drive through testing clinic at the Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus that takes about 100 test appointments each day.

Of the city’s 332 cases, 48 are hospitalized, officials said. A total of 69 cases are either residents or staff members at six long-term care facilities in the city.

To slow the spread of the coronavirus, officials have extended the city’s health order through May 15, keeping all non-essential businesses closed. Police officers will also now start citing people for not following the health order, which is a misdemeanor and could cost up to $1,000.

The city and county are also closing down all parks on Sunday, only for the day, to prevent people from gathering in them for Easter. In addition, cloth face masks or coverings are now required inside essential businesses for workers and customers.

Valerie Osier

City, business organizations survey business owners for COVID-19 impacts

10:48 AM Saturday, April 11 | Long Beach business organizations and the city’s economic development department are surveying local business owners to find out how to best help them recover from the shutdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, officials announced this week.

The organizations, including the Council of Business Associations, Downtown Long Beach Alliance and Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, intend to reach all businesses in the city with a wide-reaching survey to determine what resources businesses will need to weather the crisis. Each organization sent out the survey to their business contact lists on Friday.

“By joining forces with these key business groups, we hope to get a comprehensive picture of the challenges our local businesses are facing across Long Beach,” said Long Beach Economic Development Director John Keisler. “This joint effort is critical in determining next steps to preserve the economic integrity of our business community and identifying the necessary resources for a strong recovery.”

Valerie Osier

City to close parks for Easter Sunday

1:43 PM Friday, April 10 | Long Beach, along with Los Angeles County, will close all parks—including open spaces—on Easter Sunday, which is traditionally the busiest day of the year for city parks, officials announced.

The closure is only for Sunday, April 12, and intended to prevent the spread of COVID-19, officials said. Even passive recreational activities like biking, walking and running—which are usually allowed—are banned that day.

Sports facilities and beaches were already closed in March because of the city’s stay home order.

“Closing parks on Easter Sunday is a difficult but necessary step to protect the health of our community,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We realize the impact this will have during this important holiday and are asking for your cooperation to save lives.”

The decision was made to prevent large gatherings while people still need to observe the stay home order. The city will post signs at all parks to remind people that they cannot use them.

Parks will reopen for passive uses, like walking and biking, on Monday, April 13.

Valerie Osier

Coronavirus update: Long Beach reports one new death; 316 cases

1:31 PM Friday, April 10 | A man in his 50s with underlying health conditions has died from complications from coronavirus, marking the city’s ninth death, officials said Friday.

The overall number of coronavirus cases in Long Beach climbed to 316 on Friday, up from 303 on Thursday, as testing becomes more widely available.

Of those, more than 41 residents are hospitalized and about 140 have recovered.

Of the nine deaths, six are associated with long-term care facilities. So far, 68 cases have been identified at six long-term care facilities in Long Beach.

Three victims were men and six were women, ranging in age from 50s to 80s, officials said.

Lon Angeles County on Friday reported 475 more cases of coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to 8,430. The county also reported 18 more deaths, bringing the county’s total to 241.

Kelly Puente

LA County announces free grocery delivery for elderly, disabled people

2:46 PM Thursday, April 9 | Los Angeles County announced a program aimed at helping elderly people and those with disabilities get delivery of groceries and necessities at home at no extra cost.

The program, called Critical Delivery Service, was launched by the county Department Of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services to help those who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

The delivery services are reserved for those who are: age 60 or older, have a temporary or permanent disability or are dependent adults. They can receive up to four deliveries or 40 miles worth of deliveries per month.

Deliveries can be scheduled by calling 888-863-7411 between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Then the individual must order their items by phone or online and pay for them to the pick up location. The coordinator for the service will then schedule a taxi driver to deliver items to the person and then call the person back to confirm it has been scheduled.

Valerie Osier

Restocking days? Shopping rules? LB Fresh has a guide for grocery needs

2:26 PM Thursday, April 9 | A local non-profit is trying to make getting groceries during COVID-19 as accessible as possible by collecting all the information people need to know before venturing out to neighborhood grocers: What are the special hours for vulnerable people? What are the best days to go? Are there any limits on specific items?

Long Beach Fresh, a local non-profit dedicated to making healthier food options widely available in the city, has been gathering data on all the available places to get groceries for the past several weeks, said project Co-Director Tony Damico. They’re in the process of retooling their current food map to fit all the information, but for now, they have an Excel spreadsheet Grocer Guide that includes restaurant pop-up markets, special hours, restocking times and delivery information.

“We certainly have refocused during COVID-19,” Damico said. “One of the early motivations was collecting data on the stores that had hours for the vulnerable population.”

The group had about seven volunteers track down the information by calling stores and talking to the managers, scouring social media posts and checking websites, he said. They’re updating the excel sheet and PDF sometimes daily, as new restrictions and recommendations come out. This week, Kroger announced they would cut store capacity by half the building’s normal capacity.

The group is also including all the restaurants that have converted into pop-up grocery stores. In some cases, restaurants are only doing outside pickup. They want people to be able to decide where they will shop based on their vulnerability needs, Damico said.

Valerie Osier

The latest: More than 300 coronavirus cases in Long Beach; 8 deaths

2:04 PM Thursday, April 9 | Another Long Beach resident has died from coronavirus complications, marking the city’s eight death, officials said Thursday.

The latest victim was a woman in her 80s with underlying health conditions. Of the eight victims, two were men and six were women, and all had underlying health conditions. Five of the eight are associated with long-term care facilities, which have born a large brunt of the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the city’s total number of confirmed cases climbed to 303, up from 285 on Wednesday. Across the region, Los Angeles County on Thursday reported 25 new deaths and 425 new cases for a total of almost 8,000 cases and 224 deaths.

Long Beach’s nursing homes are being hit especially hard. On Thursday, city officials said 53 of Long Beach’s COVID-19 cases were reported at six long-term care facilities, up from 47 on Wednesday.

The long-term case facilities with coronavirus cases are: Palmcrest Grand Assisted Living, Long Beach Healthcare Center, Pacific Palms Healthcare, Bixby Knolls Towers, Broadway by the Sea and Glen Park Assisted Living.

The city has reported that 42 residents have been hospitalized from the virus and about 140 people have recovered, including five firefighters who had tested positive. Another 11 firefighters remain sick. Officials would not say how many additional firefighters are under quarantine or being monitored for possible exposure.

Kelly Puente

Police will start citing residents ignoring stay home orders this weekend

5:48 PM Wednesday, April 8 | Starting this weekend, Long Beach police officers are being given the discretion to cite people who ignore the city’s stay home orders, Police Chief Robert Luna said during a telephone town hall, Wednesday afternoon.

The stay home order, implemented to slow the spread of coronavirus, requires that all non-essential businesses close and residents stay home unless they are an essential worker, grocery shopping or caring for another person. Residents can still go on walks in their neighborhoods as long as they practice social distancing and stay six feet away from others.

The city has also closed all public beaches, trails, sports courts, golf courses, dog parks, playgrounds, skate parks, public park and public beach parking lots and picnic areas.

Luna said a citation for not following the order can cost up to $1,000 and is a misdemeanor, which would go on the violator’s record.

“That is absolutely the last thing we want to do as a police department,” Luna said. “But we also understand that the health of our neighbors are the top priority.”

Valerie Osier

Majority of Long Beach’s COVID-19 deaths connected to long-term care facilities

5:47 PM Wednesday, April 8 | Long Beach reported Wednesday that one more resident has died from COVID-19, bringing the city’s total to seven. Out of that number, four deaths are linked to six long-term care facilities like nursing homes or assisted living facilities, the city revealed.

Health officials did not say whether the four victims were residents at the facilities, only they were “associated” with them.

The latest person killed by the coronavirus was a man over 80 years old with underlying health conditions, officials said.

“Our hearts and our prayers and our love go out to the families affected,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

Long-term care facilities have been hit hard by the pandemic, accounting for 47 cases at six facilities in the city. The facilities are: Palmcrest Grand Assisted Living, Long Beach Healthcare Center, Pacific Palms Healthcare, Bixby Knolls Towers, Broadway by the Sea and Glen Park Assisted Living.

Overall, 285 people in Long Beach have tested positive for COVID-19. Officials said 38 of those people are hospitalized.

Of all the fatalities, one victim was in their 50s, two were in their 60s and four were over 80 years old, according to the city.

Approximately 140 people have reportedly recovered from the virus, including five firefighters who had tested positive. Health officials have cleared the firefighters to go back to work. Another 11 firefighters and one police employee remained sidelined by the disease.

Across the region, LA County reported 29 coronavirus-related deaths, which pushed the total to 199, while the overall number of cases topped 7,500.

Read more here.

Valerie Osier

LA County reports 29 new COVID-19 deaths, biggest daily increase so far

2:24 PM Wednesday, April 8 | Los Angeles County saw its most deadly day yet from COVID-19 with 29 coronavirus-related deaths, county health officials reported Wednesday. That pushed the total to 198, while the overall number of cases topped 7,500.

Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said the 29 new deaths include the three reported late Tuesday by health officials in Long Beach, which has its own health department, a situation that typically creates a 24-hour lag-time between the county includes those numbers in its totals. Shortly after the county’s briefing, Long Beach reported an additional death, pushing the countywide total to 199.

The new deaths included 17 people over age 65, with 16 of those people having underlying health conditions. Seven of the deaths occurred in people between 18 and 40, and five of them had underlying health problems.

Another 620 coronavirus cases were confirmed in the county, Ferrer said, raising the overall total to 7,530. That figure includes 256 cases inLong Beach and 80 in Pasadena, which also has its own health department.

The mortality rate among coronavirus patients in the county continued to rise slowly, reaching 2.6% on Wednesday, Ferrer said. The figure means 2.6% of the people who have tested positive for the illness in the county have died.

Last week, the mortality rate was 1.8%.

The county’s coronavirus cases include 43 cases that occurred in jail settings—three inmates and 40 staff members—along with 10 cases in the state prison system—eight inmates and two staffers. Two cases have been reported in a county juvenile facility, both involving staff members at theBarry Nidorf juvenile hall in Sylmar.

Twelve cases have been confirmed among the county’s homeless population, up from two on Tuesday. Four cases have been reported in homeless shelters, involving two residents and two staff members.

Ferrer said there are now 131 institutional settings—such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, shelters, jails and prisons—that have had at least one case. Those institutions have had a total of 596 cases and 37 deaths, all among residents.

As of Tuesday, roughly 36,500 people have been tested for the virus in the county, although Ferrer noted that number is likely low, since multiple new testing sites have opened in recent days but figures have not yet been gathered from those locations.

The county has set a goal of testing 10,000 people per day. With roughly 10% of those people ultimately testing positive, Ferrer has warned that the daily increases in case numbers will likely approach about 1,000.

New testing centers opened Wednesday at East Los Angeles College and at the Charles Drew University medical campus in Willowbrook. The county now has more than 20 testing centers across the region, including the location at Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus. Those centers and others operated by individual cities are restricted to people showing symptoms ofCOVID-19.

Ferrer noted that as of Wednesday, 324 health care workers have tested positive. More than half of them work in hospitals, but other cases have occurred at outpatient facilities and emergency medical services personnel.Nurses have had the largest number of cases, but doctors, paramedics and emergency medical technicians have also tested positive. Two health care workers in the county have died from the virus.

City News Service

24 sheriff’s deputies have COVID-19, another 394 are quarantined

7:32 AM Wednesday, April 8 | The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department established a web page Tuesday to update the public on COVID-19 cases within the department.

Twenty-four sheriff’s department employees have tested positive for the virus and 394 are quarantined, according to the department, which employs more than 10,000 sworn personnel and about 8,000 more civilian staffers.

By Tuesday, another 150 employees who had been quarantined were returned to duty, the department reported.

Two Los Angeles County jail system inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, and 21 have had a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees or exhibited upper respiratory infection symptoms.

Those inmates are in isolation, and 481 inmates, who had close contact with someone under observation, are being quarantined.

More information is available on the sheriff’s department’sCoronavirus Information Updates page: lasd.org/covid19updates.

City News Service

Not able to select Long Beach as a drive-thru test option? Here’s why

6:23 PM Tuesday, April 7 | Long Beach began offering free drive-up COVID-19 testing today at Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus, noting that up to about 100 individuals are able to be helped daily by appointment.

In partnership with the city and county of Los Angeles, symptomatic community members can go to the city of Long Beach’s website and then be redirected to another site to make that mandatory appointment.

However, after some readers noted not seeing Long Beach as a drive-up option, the Post inquired.

It turns out that the Long Beach site is not listed when appointment slots are full, a city spokeswoman said.

“We suggest applicants try again tomorrow for the next available appointment,” spokeswoman Marlene Arrona said.

Other sites within Los Angeles County are also available to Long Beach residents.

To see if you qualify and make an appointment click here.

Stephanie Rivera

Long Beach reports 3 more COVID-19 deaths, doubling its number of fatal cases

3:09 PM Tuesday, April 7 | City health officials on Tuesday reported that three more people died of coronavirus, bringing the total number of fatal cases in Long Beach to six.

All three victims—a man and two women—were in their 80s with underlying health conditions, according to officials.

“Our love and prayers go out to their families and friends,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted.

The city did not reveal whether the three resided in long-term care facilities. At least five facilities have been hit with the virus, although officials have declined to release how many cases are at each facility.

This is the first time Long Beach officials have announced multiple deaths on one day. The last fatal case was on Friday when they said a woman in her 60s with underlying conditions died from the virus.

The city also reported a total of 256 people have tested positive for the virus as of Tuesday, up from 230 on Monday.

Elsewhere in Los Angeles County, officials reported 22 new deaths and 550 new cases today, bringing the countywide totals to 172 deaths and nearly 7,000 confirmed cases.

Valerie Osier

Early data shows slightly higher death rate for African American coronavirus patients, county health official says

2:20 PM Tuesday, April 7 | Preliminary—and limited—data shows a slightly higher rate of death for African American COVID-19 patients compared to other ethnic groups in Los Angeles County, health officials said today.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, who shared the data, emphasized that it is incomplete. The department is still missing race and ethnicity information on 43% of the 169 deaths from COVID-19 that have been reported across the county.

She said health officials will be watching the racial disparity closely as they try to gather the missing information.

Ferrer said that of the 93 deaths health officials have data on, 19% were Asian, 17% were African American, 28% were Latinx, 27% were white and 9% were any other race.

“When we look at these numbers by the total population of each group, African Americans have a slightly higher rate of death than other races and ethnicities,” Ferrer said.

Authorities haven’t said if they have such demographic data on the three deaths in Long Beach, which were included in the county’s overall total numbers.

It’s unclear what could be causing a racial disparity in fatal cases of the coronavirus, but Ferrer said health officials have found that people in wealthier communities have an easier time getting tests.

“People who are living in wealthier communities have had, in fact, better access to testing and have been tested more than people living in communities where income levels are much lower,” she said.

Ferrer shared the preliminary data at Tuesday’s daily media briefing where she announced 22 new deaths and 550 new confirmed cases—bringing the countywide case count to 6,910.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Fewer people will be allowed inside Ralphs, Food 4 Less, other Kroger stores

12:25 PM Tuesday, April 7 | Waiting in line to enter a supermarket has become the new normal in light of the coronavirus, but the waits could get a little longer at Kroger stores such as Ralphs and Food 4 Less, where more stringent capacity guidelines took effect today.

The Kroger Co. implemented a rule that limits its stores to 50% of the designated building capacity “to allow for proper physical distancing in every store.”

According to the company, the standard building capacity for a grocery store is one person per 60 square feet. Under the new guidelines, stores will limit capacity to one person per 120 square feet.

That guideline will be even more strict at Los Angeles-area stores, which are reducing customers to 25% of the designated store capacity.

“We are reducing the traffic in our stores to protect the safety of our associates, customers and community,” Ralphs spokesman John Votava said.

Most grocery stores and other retailers that remain open during the pandemic have implemented capacity limits, forcing customers to wait in line—6 feet apart—before entering to control the crowds inside.

Kroger officials said in a statement that the company is also exploring the use of one-way aisles in an effort to reduce crowding.

Although the concept is under consideration by Kroger, it has not yet been introduced at Ralphs stores.

City News Service

Have you seen price gouging in Long Beach? Here’s what to do

10:48 AM Tuesday, April 7 | Law enforcement wants to know if you’ve seen price gouging in Long Beach during the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re vowing to quickly investigate each complaint to make sure shoppers aren’t being ripped off.

To that end, the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office launched a website this week where consumers can report price gouging. They’ve already gotten complaints about certain grocery stores from major chains overcharging for milk, toilet paper and water, according to officials.

To make sure they have the resources to look into each complaint and swiftly stop any gouging, the city prosecutor’s office has teamed up with its counterparts in the city of Los Angeles and the LA County District Attorney’s office, which both already had teams dedicated to consumer issues.

“We don’t want to wait until after the emergency to investigate this type of conduct,” Long Beach City Prosecutor Doug Haubert said.

Read the full story here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

California orders $0 bail for many lower-level offenses

7:33 AM Tuesday, April 7 | California’s Judicial Council set bail at zero for most misdemeanor and lower-level felonies in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus in jails statewide by reducing the number of inmates.

During a meeting by teleconference, the council Monday approved 11 temporary emergency rules designed to ensure public safety in the courts and jails while preserving civil rights. The rules, which take effect immediately, also allow local courts to set up remote hearings via teleconference technology and for counsel to appear on behalf of defendants in pretrial proceedings—as part of a bid to limit the number of people in courtrooms.

Ready the full story here.

City News Service

As cases crest 6,000, health officials say LA County has reached a critical week

2:12 PM Monday, April 6 | With more than 6,300 confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County—230 of which are in Long Beach—and many more flying under the radar, health officials say this week could be critical in defining the disease’s trajectory.

“Our numbers could start skyrocketing,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s health department.

Ferrer reported 420 new cases and 15 new deaths Monday, bringing the county’s totals to 6,392 cases and 147 deaths. That number includes the 230 confirmed cases and three deaths in Long Beach, which amounts to 17 new cases within the city—and no new fatalities—since Sunday. The city also reported about 71 cases of recoveries.

“Our numbers are large,” Ferrer said, and they don’t account for the many people health officials believe are infected but haven’t been identified because they’re not showing symptoms.

If all of those people are spreading the coronavirus, the number of cases could begin to explode unless everyone strictly abides by social distancing rules and stays homes as much as possible, according to Ferrer.

“If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether,” she said.

The 420 new cases reported in LA County Monday were a slight dip from recent numbers, but Ferrer said that decline is an anomaly because test results don’t come in as reliably over the weekend.

Week over week, there’s been a “significant increase,” she said.

“It remains important that we continue to do what we know will work,” she said, urging everyone to abide by stay-at-home orders.

She also advised everyone to wear face coverings when going in public, but she implored them to not use surgical masks or N95 respirators, which are needed by medical personnel.

Jeremiah Dobruck

California court leaders consider cutting bail to $0 for swath of charges

6:12 PM Sunday, April 5 | California judicial leaders are expected to adopt a statewide emergency order setting bail at zero for lower-level offenses and suspending evictions and foreclosures to deal with the COVID-19 crisis that has crippled the state’s court system.

The Judicial Council was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to vote on nearly a dozen temporary rules, including a proposal to hold criminal and juvenile proceedings by video or telephone in order to ensure that defendants are not held in custody without timely hearings.

In criminal proceedings, the defendant must agree before a court hearing can be held remotely.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, trial courts must protect defendants’ constitutional rights to have the assistance of counsel and to be personally present with counsel, and at the same time take steps to protect the health of defendants, judicial officers, court staff, counsel, and all those who are required to be present in court,” a report prepared for the meeting said.

The report said courts have been operating with a greatly reduced work force since Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order on March 20 to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The proposal to lower bail at $0 for misdemeanor and lower-level felony offenses is intended to reduce the jail population and limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The Associated Press

Confirmed COVID-19 cases now up to 213 in Long Beach; deaths remain at 3

1:34 PM Sunday, April 5 | The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Long Beach is now up to 213, city officials announced Sunday.

No other details were available regarding the 15 new positive results since yesterday’s update. Officials said the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 remained at about 50—a number that may not be comprehensive because it relies on self-reported data for low-risk patients recovering at home.

The number of confirmed cases is also not all-encompassing. Because of limited supplies, not all suspected cases of COVID-19 are tested.

At least three people have died of the coronavirus in Long Beach.

Los Angeles County overall had more than 5,900 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 132 deaths as of Sunday.

“This is the most dramatic increase in deaths we have seen since the COVID-19 crisis began, and our condolences go out to each and every person impacted by these heartbreaking losses,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director said a day earlier. “Though COVID-19 can infect people of all ages, most of the deaths we see continue to be among individuals over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions. Now, more than ever, we must unify as a community to protect this vulnerable population by making sure they are able to stay home and take every precaution.

“These are tough times, but we are a caring L.A. County, and we will get through this together.”

City News Service contributed to this report.

Stephanie Rivera

Over 170 Long Beach shelter animals find homes during pandemic; only handful left

11:58 AM Sunday, April 5 | Over 170 cats and dogs from the city’s animal shelter have been placed in foster or permanent homes as Animal Care Services continues to operate by appointment-only during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A total of 69 dogs and 103 cats were recently adopted or fostered, city officials announced today.

As of Friday, April 3, six dogs and eight cats, which were either being readied for foster homes or under medical or behavioral care or observation, remained in the shelter.

“With Long Beach residents following the ‘Safer at Home’ order to stem the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we recognized a greater opportunity for residents to foster shelter animals,” said Staycee Dains, Manager of Long Beach Animal Care Services. “The community is continuing to do a great job by not bringing animals to us unless the animal is seriously sick or seriously injured or is attacking. The fact that our kennels are empty is unprecedented and we owe that to our hardworking and tireless staff, and rescue partners and our community.”

To read more about the nonprofits that helped empty the kennels click here.

Stephanie Rivera

Long Beach now has 198 coronavirus cases; 5 long-term care facilities have positive patients

3:00 PM Saturday, April 4 | Long Beach officials on Saturday announced the number of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 has risen to 198 people, up from 171 cases on Friday.

Broadway by the Sea, a long-term care facility, has now reported it has at least one positive case. There is now a total of five local long-term care facilities have reported coronavirus cases, but the city is not providing the number at each of because “the numbers may be constantly changing.”

In a statement, Broadway by the Sea said, “We are not in a position to release specifics about any of our residents. Protecting the privacy and and dignity of each person in our care is our responsibility.” The facility said it believed statistical information was being made available by the city health department.

The facilities are:

  • Palmcrest Grand Assisted Living
  • Long Beach Healthcare Cente
  • Pacific Palms Healthcare
  • Bixby Knolls Towers
  • Broadway by the Sea

Clusters of coronavirus cases have sprung up at nursing homes across the country. This week a spokesperson for the Centers for Disease Control reported the agency is aware of more than 400 long-term care facilities with cases.

In the meantime, California regulators relaxed guidelines this week for who can be admitted to skilled nursing facilities as health officials scramble to make room in hospitals for other patients. The facilities must now accept patients, even if they have not been cleared of the disease, causing alarm among advocates.

“Sacrificing the lives of beloved nursing home residents is beyond unconscionable,” Patricia McGinnis, executive director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, told the Los Angeles Times.

“California’s directive is nothing less than a death sentence for countless residents. The state should instead look to alternative locations such as hotels and conference centers as much safer places to send COVID-19 patients for care,” McGinnis told the Times.

Among the nearly 200 cases, about 50 people have self-reported that they have recovered, according to the city. They can only provide an approximate total because low-risk patients generally recover at home.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a statement from Broadway by the Sea. 

Valerie Osier

City health department issues guidelines recommending face covering to prevent spread of coronavirus

1:57 PM Saturday, April 4 | The Long Beach Health Department on Saturday issued guidelines recommending that people wear face coverings to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but health officials stressed that masks do not substitute for physical distancing and hand washing guidelines.

“Even if you are not showing symptoms, you could be carrying COVID-19 and endangering those around you,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “Wearing something as simple as a cloth face covering when you go outside could help slow the rate of transmission and reduce the load on our hospitals in the critical weeks ahead.”

Long Beach City Officer Dr. Anissa Davis in a statement said masks are an additional tool that can help prevent the spread of coronavirus, but residents should still take other precautions.

“We emphasize that wearing facial coverings should not be a substitute for continuing to practice evidence-based defenses like washing your hands frequently and physical distancing,” Davis said. “Facial coverings can be useful in public settings where other physical distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as pharmacies or grocery stores.”

On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encouraged people to use like T-shirts, bandannas and non-medical masks to cover their faces while outdoors.

The new guidance comes as states are bracing for critical shortfalls in medical masks.

Davis said residents should refrain from using medical N95 mask or respirators since they are in short supply and should be reserved for healthcare workers.

The California Department of Public Health defines face coverings as material such as cotton, silk or linen that covers the mouth and nose. Coverings can be homemade or improvised from everyday items such as scarves, bandanas, T-shirts, sweatshirts or towel.

The Long Beach Post, with the assistance of the City of Long Beach, is preparing to launch a digital e-commerce marketplace for local residents and businesses producing cloth face coverings for purchase during the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Development of the online exchange is in response to increased requests from Long Beach residents seeking information on where they can purchase face coverings, as well as increased offers from local producers looking to help.

The marketplace will be distinguished by only including non-medical face coverings. Medical-grade, surgical, N95 and similar type masks will be excluded as they are for use by first responders and medical personnel.

Long Beach Post Publisher David Sommers noted the the Post won’t take a commission from individual sales and it is free for vendors to register and for shoppers to access the platform.

“At a time when our entire community is stepping up to support each other, this project is a natural extension of our public service mission, beyond the essential journalism of our reporters and editors,” Sommers said. “With the upcoming launch of the marketplace, we’re providing a platform where vendors and seekers can communicate with each other and directly coordinate delivery.”

 

Kelly Puente

Convention Center to serve as 100-bed overflow hospital; plans for drive-up coronavirus testing at City College

3:53 PM Friday, April 3 | In a major effort to prepare for a surge in coronavirus cases, Long Beach has turned its Convention & Entertainment Center into a 100-bed overflow hospital and will set up a public drive-up testing site at Long Beach College’s Pacific Coast campus, officials said Friday.

“I want to remind folks that this is the calm before for the storm,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a news conference Friday. “We can expect a surge and a lot more people coming into our hospital systems in the coming days and weeks.”

The city on Friday announced that the Convention Center would serve as an overflow hospital. Courtesy photo.

Long Beach’s efforts at the convention center follow Los Angeles and San Diego, which have also turned their convention centers into overflow hospitals. Garcia said the city is in the process of setting up 100 beds on the floor of the facility’s Pacific Ballroom.

The beds will help ease the strain on the city’s five hospitals partners, including Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and St. Mary Medical Center. The USNS Mercy hospital ship, with 1,000 beds available, is also docked at the Port of Los Angeles, and the city’s efforts to reopen Community Hospital in East Long Beach took a step forward Friday.

Officials with the roughly 100-year-old facility, which was shuttered because it sits on an earthquake fault, said in a statement that they are ready to reopen after hiring 100 employees and securing $2 million in medical equipment and services.

The city next week is also planning to open a public drive-up testing clinic at Long Beach City College’s Pacific Coast Campus on Pacific Highway. People will be able to soon schedule an appointment through the city’s website.

The plans to ramp up Long Beach’s fight against coronavirus come as the city on Friday announced its third death from the virus—a woman in her 60s with underlying health conditions.

Two other victims were also women in their 60s with underlying health conditions. The city, meanwhile, confirmed 18 new cases on Friday for a total of 171 positive cases, up 153 on Thursday and 139 on Wednesday. Of those, approximately 40 individuals have recovered, officials said.

The infections include 16 Long Beach firefighters, one police officer and a health department employee.

Los Angeles County health officials on Friday reported 521 more cases of coronavirus, bringing the total to 4,566, and 11 new deaths for a total of 89 deaths.

Long Beach on Friday also confirmed coronavirus cases in four long-term care facilities. Health officials are not publicly reporting the number of cases at long-term care facilities, as the numbers may be constantly changing throughout this health emergency.

Kelly Puente

First positive coronavirus case reported on Catalina Island

3:20 PM Friday, April 3 | Catalina Island Medical Center on Friday announced that one of their patients has tested positive for COVID-19.

The center has tested 11 patients since March 15.

The patient is now quarantining themselves for 14 days as required by the county health order. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health is conducting an investigation and will track the patient’s last movements and will contact people who were in contact with the patient who tested positive.

The center said they will monitor the patient daily while they are sick.

“Our hospital, and other hospitals, will likely receive more of these patients, we will continue to follow established infection prevention protocols and precautions standard to contact and airborne illness that all our caregivers have been trained on,” the center stated. “The safety of our patients, caregivers and community is our number one priority.”

Valerie Osier

Long Beach identifies two more long-term care facilities with coronavirus cases

1:10 PM Friday, April 3 | Long Beach has identified four assisted care facilities with cases of coronavirus, but it is unclear how many residents have been infected.

Ed Kamlan, a spokesman for the city’s Joint Information Center, said the city is not providing the number of cases at this time because the numbers are changing.

The locations include:

  • Bixby Knolls Towers
  • Pacific Palms Healthcare
  • Palmcrest Grand Assisted Living
  • Long Beach Healthcare Center

Earlier this week, Long Beach reported two cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities, highlighting growing concerns that the virus could soon take hold in vulnerable populations in nursing homes. It is unclear if any of the sick residents have been hospitalized.

On Friday, Long Beach Healthcare Center administrator Christine Tomlinson confirmed that the facility at 3401 Cedar Ave. near the Wrigley Highest neighborhoods has reported coronavirus in the facility but declined to say how many cases.

Tomlinson said the facility is “doing everything it can” to stop the spread of the virus and is working closely with health department officials.

Long Beach Healthcare Center last year was one of two Long Beach facilities named among the poorest in quality nursing homes in the nation. The facility for more than two years has appeared on a federal list of nursing homes with serious ongoing health, safety or sanitary problems.

For Pacific Palm Healthcare in East Long Beach, the facility’s administrator Lance Haering posted to organization’s website Wednesday said:

“Since we learned of our first resident with a positive test for COVID-19, we have worked closely with Long Beach Public Health, Los Angeles County Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On April 1st, we started working directly with Long Beach Public Health and the CDC.”

The facility’s statement went on to say workers are following infection control best practices but did not say if any of the staff or residents were in quarantine.

Bixby Knolls Towers in a post on its website, last week, said the nursing home is “asking that no visitors come to our community unless the visit is absolutely essential.” A representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Representatives for Palmcrest could not immediately be reached for comment.

Kelly Puente

Drive-up testing site planned for Long Beach, other LA County cities

7:26 PM Thursday, April 2 | Los Angeles County is ramping up COVID-19 drive-up testing sites, with three locations scheduled to begin operating tomorrow and others in the works countywide, officials said today.

The sites opening Friday are at the Pomona Fairplex at Gate 17, W. McKinley/Fairplex Drive; the South Bay Galleria at 1815 Hawthorne Blvd., Redondo Beach; and the Antelope Valley Mall at 1233 Rancho Vista Blvd., Palmdale.

Testing is by appointment only and walk-up appointments are not available.

Additional sites in Northridge, Long Beach, Lancaster and Pasadena are presently in the planning stages, and sites in Lancaster and Glendale are already operating.

At this time, COVID-19 testing is limited to the most vulnerable Los Angeles County residents—those who are age 65 and older and/or have underlying health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, chronic lung disease, or moderate to severe asthma.

Testing is also limited to those who are immunocompromised, including as a result of cancer treatment, and/or have been subject to a mandatory 14-day quarantine period because they have been exposed to an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 and have more than seven days of the two-week quarantine period remaining.

Anyone interested in getting tested must first register on the screening website, coronavirus.lacity.org/testing. This first step determines if people are eligible to be tested. At the website, individuals are asked to answer basic questions, including name, date of birth, address and whether they are exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing and difficulty breathing. The website—in real time—determines and confirms an individual’s testing eligibility.

Those who receive confirmation of testing eligibility will then be given a selection of testing sites, and available appointment times to complete the test registration process. The registration number will be required information at the testing site. All of the testing locations are drive-up and clients stay in their vehicles for tests—though pedestrian clients with appointments can be tested, as well.

The test is a self-administered oral swab, meaning clients must swab their own mouths/throats using instructions provided to them at the site. The testing process takes between 5 and 10 minutes, however waiting times may vary.

“The goal is to increase testing capacity as quickly as possible in Los Angeles County to meet the community’s needs, which are growing everyday,” said Dr. Clayton Kazan, medical director of the L.A. County Fire Department, who is leading the countywide coordination of COVID-19 testing.

Kazan is tasked with supporting and scaling the efforts of cities and healthcare providers that have begun their own testing programs, merge them into the countywide network and ensure that they have adequate supplies.

For more information and FAQs, click here. To register and see if you are eligible for a test, click here.

City News Service

Immigrant rights group launches relief fund for undocumented community

5:32 PM Thursday, April 2 | Long Beach immigrant rights advocates today announced the launch of a relief fund to help local undocumented community members financial impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Long Beach COVID-19 Undocumented Community Relief Fund was launched by the Long Beach Immigrant Rights Coalition in partnership with the nonprofits DAYS Long Beach and Housing Long Beach and the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

“COVID-19 has destroyed the livelihoods of many in our community,” the coalition stated online. “But whereas those with status can rely on unemployment benefits, medicare, and any forthcoming federally funded COVID-19 relief programs to get them through this crisis, our undocumented community members can only get help from us.”

The funds will be given directly to undocumented individuals in Long Beach who have lost their jobs and have reduced hours, according to the coalition.

The group estimates that there are nearly 31,000 undocumented immigrants living in Long Beach—many with temporary or low-wage jobs and without access to sick leave, unemployment or the ability to work remotely.

“We are all frightened right now, but our undocumented neighbors face even greater hardships in the next couple of months,” the coalition stated.

Organizers said an application will open for individuals in need of financial assistance once there is enough funding to disperse. Applications will be taken until funds run out.

To donate click here.

Stephanie Rivera

Health department employee tests positive for COVID-19; city reports 14 new cases

4:42 PM Thursday, April 2 | Long Beach now has 153 positive cases of COVID-19—among them an employee of the city’s health department who has been on the front lines of the health crisis, officials said Thursday.

The employee is in stable condition in self-isolation, according to the city.

The city’s total number of positive cases increased from 139 cases reported on Wednesday, including two deaths. An estimated 38 people have recovered from the illness, but that number is self-reported, city officials said.

Officials also corrected the number of Long Beach firefighters who tested positive for the virus, saying that 16 firefighters—not 18, as reported earlier—have tested positive for the virus. Five of the firefighters are Long Beach residents and are counted in the city’s total number of cases.

The health department is still investigating the two cases of COVID-19 in two separate Long Beach long-term care facilities that were reported yesterday.

Other announcements:

  • Officials said a fourth temporary homeless shelter will open at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, located at 1950 Lemon Ave. Officials said more details will be provided later today.
  • The city has updated its intake procedures for the temporary shelters at King Park and Silverado Park. Individuals must first visit the Multi-Service Center, located at 1301 W. 12th St., to complete the shelter assessment and mandatory health screening. After the health screening is completed, individuals will be shuttled to a shelter location.
  • Metro has also opened the Metro A Line Willow Station parking garage, located at 200 E. 27th St., to the list of alternative parking spots for residents in areas with limited parking.
  • The Long Beach Board of Water Commissioners today approved enforcement of the city’s March 28 health order to, as a last resort, shut off water service to non-essential businesses operating in violation of the health order.

Los Angeles county officials on Thursday reported 534 new cases and 13 deaths. Dr. Barbara Ferrer,  the county’s director of public health, pointed out that this means the county has had over 1,000  new cases in the last 48 hours.

Countywide, a total of 4,045 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 78 people have died. About 22% of the people who tested positive have been hospitalized during their illness and two-thirds of those hospitalized had no underlying health conditions, she said.

“People who get infected with COVID-19, at any age, can have very serious illness,” Ferrer said.

She urged residents to continue social distancing and clarified Centers for Disease Control guidelines that if you are out doing essential errands and are not able to remain 6 feet apart, then you should wear a homemade mask—not a N-95 medical mask—to help slow the spread of coronavirus.

Valerie Osier

LA mayor advises the public to wear protective face coverings

2:10 PM Thursday, April 2 | Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is advising the public to wear any kind of protective face covering they can when going out, such as a scarf or other clothing items, in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

The Washington Post is also reporting today that the White House is expected to issue similar guidance.

“I know it will look surreal. We’re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this,” Garcetti said as he put on a black cloth mask during his daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday. “To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn’t an excuse to suddenly all go out.”

Garcetti discouraged the public from buying medical-grade masks, such as the N95 and surgical masks, because first responders and doctors urgently need them.

Long Beach has yet to issue any similar guidance.

Officials emphasize that even if you are wearing a mask, you should still follow other social distancing guidance: stay 6 feet away from others and wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.

City News Service

Farmers markets and popup markets can stay—as long as people follow social distancing

5:48 PM Wednesday, April 1 | As the city continues to shift its policy in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Robert Garcia clarified the city’s stance on restaurants acting as popup markets and farmers markets: They will remain open—but that is contingent on the public following the rules of social distancing.

“These small popups? We are trying with our health department to allow them to continue,” Garcia said. “We think they are doing a good job of physical distancing and instituting health rules—so we’re going to continue working with them because think they’re an important part of our food access. However, we are really asking the public to physical distance and follow the rules because if that starts being a problem, we will have to take more aggressive actions.”

The applies to farmers markets as well, Garcia said.

“We have heard from a lot of the community that they actually prefer our farmers markets sometimes even more than regular grocers,” Garcia said. “But if the health department realizes that it is not working—that people are not following the rules—we will have to shut them down.”

While County of Los Angeles’ Department of Public Health ordered farmers markets and restaurant markets to close, Garcia emphasized that Long Beach, with its own health department, doesn’t always follow what the county opts to enforce.

“Oftentimes, if the county put out a health rule, it doesn’t always necessarily apply the same in Long Beach,” Garcia said. “But we try to align ourselves a much as possible because we think one approach is the best approach. But you might hear slight differences sometimes.”

For a full list of restaurants acting markets, click here.

Brian Addison

Long Beach issues order requiring mandatory quarantine for people who may have been exposed to coronavirus

4:46 PM Wednesday, April 1 | People who have coronavirus or believe they have been exposed to someone with the virus will be legally required to stay home under a new city health department order that goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

The mandate from Long Beach, which has its own health department, follows a similar order from the Los Angeles County Health Department requiring the self-isolation of any person that has tested positive for coronavirus or is presumed by their doctors to be positive.

Until now, the guidelines in Long Beach had been voluntary.

Under the new order, individuals who have tested positive or are presumed to be positive by their doctor are required to self-isolate for at least seven days from when they were first symptomatic and at least 72 hours after their symptoms have resolved without the use of fever-reducing medication, Long Beach Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in a news conference Wednesday.

The order also requires individuals to self-quarantine for 14 days if they believe they have been in close contact with someone who is sick. The close contacts can include people living together, intimate partners or anyone who has been within six feet of a sick person for more than 10 minutes.

Davis explained the difference between self-isolation and quarantine. Under self-isolation, people are required to isolate themselves in a separate room, while under quarantine, individuals should stay at home and practice social distancing.

Kelly Puente

Long Beach VA sees multiple coronavirus cases

12:31 PM Wednesday, April 1 | Multiple cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed at the VA Long Beach Healthcare System, according to city officials.

That’s up from a single case the VA reported on March 18. VA staff are among the new cases, according to local news site Forthe.

“We do not have a number of cases but can confirm it is multiple,” Long Beach city officials told the Post. “We are unable to confirm whether this is the first case of hospital staff in Long Beach testing positive.”

VA staff did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.

The news comes as Los Angeles County separately reported that a health care worker has died of COVID-19—the first in the county.

It’s unclear if the VA cases are included in the total of 123 confirmed coronavirus infections the city of Long Beach reported Tuesday.

“The VA cases are included in the Long Beach case count if the person is a Long Beach resident only,” city staff said, without identifying how many patients are Long Beach residents.

In a recent interview with the Press-Telegram, VA staff said it has the ability to increase patient capacity from 291 to 400 beds if the hospital experiences a surge in cases. The hospital also has a mobile field unit with capacity for up to 50 additional beds, should the patient load outstrip the building’s capacity.

VA Long Beach Medical Director Walt Dannenberg told the Press-Telegram that the facility now has the ability to run a “high capacity” of tests onsite, which allows for faster turnaround times. He added that the hospital currently has enough personal protective equipment, such as face masks and gloves, for staff. However, Dannenberg noted that he can’t guarantee resources won’t run out should the pandemic continue for a prolonged period of time.

Brandon Richardson

Costco to limit guests inside stores; Home Depot adjusts hours

10:32 AM Wednesday, April 1 | Two stores—Costco and Home Depot—adopted new policies today in response to the spread of the coronavirus.

Home Depot will close daily at 6 p.m., while opening hours will remain unchanged—5 a.m. in some stores, 6 a.m. in others. The adjusted hours will give stores the ability to staff appropriately and provide additional time to perform cleaning and restock shelves.

Home Depot is eliminating major spring promotions to avoid driving high levels of traffic to stores. It is also distributing thermometers to associates in stores and distribution centers and asking them to perform health checks before reporting to work.

Costco, meanwhile, announced that beginning Friday, members will only be allowed to bring one guest inside the store with them. Previously, Costco members could bring two guests per membership card, as well as their children.

The new policy is designed to control the amount of people in the warehouse atone time.

“This temporary change is for your safety and the safety of our employees and other members, and to further assist with our social distancing efforts,” Costco said on its website.

Costco said that in recent weeks, it has altered its hours, increased its sanitization of high-touch surfaces like shopping cart handles and merchandise shelves, and placed limits on certain items. The warehouses also stopped offering food samples and are no longer accepting returns on certain merchandise.

City News Service

Police say they’re getting dozens of calls about social distancing

3:38 PM Tuesday, March 31 | Amid the car thefts, burglaries and shootings, police in Long Beach are getting a new kind of phone call in the age of COVID-19.

Over the past week and a half, officers have responded to reports of grocery shoppers too close together, mourners lingering at a funeral, kids hanging out in parks and scofflaws jumping a fence to play golf.

On the police radio, they’re called “social calls,” a shorthand for anyone breaking the new social distancing rules put in place by state and local stay-at-home orders meant to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Basically people calling in concerned about the amount of people gathered together in any one location,” LBPD Officer Emily Garcia said.

On March 23, the LBPD created a new internal classification to track the complaints, according to Garcia. Within a span of eight days, police say they got 82 separate calls that fit the bill.

The department has put extra officers in the field specially assigned to chase down “social calls” and monitor hotspots like beach bike paths and grocery stores, Garcia said.

Playground equipment is taped off and closed at Colorado Lagoon due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Long Beach Monday, March 23, 2020. Long Beach closed all of its parks playground equipment due to the virus. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Under the “Safer at Home” order from Long Beach’s health department, anything from gathering in a park to running a nonessential business, such as a hair salon, can be a misdemeanor punishable by fine or jail time. Businesses caught breaking the rules can also have their licenses or other permits revoked.

But the department has told officers that making arrests and handing out citations should be a last resort, “unless the circumstances pose an immediate threat of violence or other serious public safety concerns,” according to a city memo.

Instead, the department is encouraging officers to explain to people why their actions are putting themselves and others at risk.

As of Tuesday afternoon, police said they haven’t had to go as far as ticketing or arresting anyone.

Anyone who wants to report someone not following the health order can call the LBPD’s non-emergency line at 562-435-6711.

Jeremiah Dobruck

The latest: Long Beach reports 8 new coronavirus cases; LA County sees 548

2:25 PM Tuesday, March 31 | Health officials on Tuesday reported eight new cases of the coronavirus in Long Beach, bringing the city’s total to 123.

Los Angeles County, meanwhile, reported 548 new cases for a total of 3,011—more than triple the number of confirmed cases within a week, LA County Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a news conference.

The county also reported 10 more deaths on Tuesday, bringing the total to 54 deaths, including one in Long Beach.

Ferrer noted that four of the latest deaths include people under 65 and one person under 41. Of those who have died, 87% had underlying health conditions. She underscored the fact that the virus can also be serious for young people and those without any underlying health conditions.

“While the majority of people who are passing do in fact have underlying health conditions, they (don’t all),” she said.

Ferrer said the rise in confirmed cases is due partly to an increase in testing, noting that 19,000 have been screened—compared to about 1,300 in Long Beach—but she said the county is also seeing an overall rise in cases. The county is now seeing a 12% positive test rate, up from 10%, she said.

The county is investigating cases at 20 nursing homes or skilled nursing facilities, where elderly residents with underlying health conditions are among the most vulnerable.

That’s up from three nursing home outbreaks county officials had announced on Friday.

Of the 54 coronavirus deaths that had been reported in the county as of Monday, six were nursing home residents, Ferrer said.

It was not immediately clear whether Long Beach has any cases in local nursing homes.

City News Service contributed to this report 

Kelly Puente

‘I don’t have closure’: Families must wait to mourn as funerals come to a halt

1:28 PM Tuesday, March 31 | In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, many who have lost loved ones will have to wait to say good-bye.

All gatherings, including funerals, are being postponed, canceled or moved into a digital format in Los Angeles County and surrounding communities. Long Beach made that change Saturday as an addition to its existing “Safer at Home” order to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

For Aly Sheridan, 31, of Long Beach, not being able to schedule a funeral for her 79-year-old grandfather Jim Sheridan of Upland means her family will have to wait to grieve together. When he died of an illness other than COVID-19 on March 10, a service was planned two weeks later but that had to be postponed.

“Catholic masses are canceled indefinitely, so we pushed our plans out to August, and I hope that’s late enough. My grandma decided she wants it to be on their 60th wedding anniversary on Aug. 27,” Sheridan said, noting that her grandfather was cremated.

Her grandfather’s obituary, like many others’ today, doesn’t specify a day for the service, just simply: “to be held at a future date.”

Read the full story here.

Ashleigh Ruhl

As LA closes them, Long Beach farmers markets stay open—at least for now

1:26 PM Tuesday, March 31 | Despite the city of Los Angeles’ decision to suspend all of its farmers markets, they’re still open in Long Beach, and local officials haven’t said whether they’ll follow LA’s lead.

In LA, the decision to temporarily shut down the open-air marketplaces came Monday evening when Mayor Eric Garcetti said he’d been alarmed by the crowds of people potentially spreading COVID-19.

He said operators would be allowed to reopen only if they submit detailed plans to the city for controlling crowds and enforcing “physical distancing.”

In Long Beach, no such plan has been required, but operators have shifted the way they do business since the pandemic hit, according to Lee Ostendorf, who runs farmers markets at Bixby Park and Marine Stadium.

Read the full story here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

UPDATE: Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in Long Beach rises to 115

1:43 PM Monday, March 30 | Health officials reported 16 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Long Beach Monday, bringing the city’s total to 115.

As a whole, Los Angeles County reported 342 new cases Monday and seven more deaths, bringing the countywide total to nearly 2,500 cases and 44 deaths. One person has died from the coronavirus in Long Beach, and about 20% of patients have required hospitalization of some kind, according to the city.

But local authorities cautioned Monday that there is not enough data to get an accurate picture of how widespread the coronavirus is in Long Beach and whether infections rates are accelerating or declining. The statistics, they said, are just a snapshot, and there can be a days-long gap between providers performing a tests and reporting the results to the city.

“Please know that we are doing everything we can to get more tests,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in an afternoon briefing.

Between the city’s own lab a private providers, Garcia estimated about 1,300 tests have been run in Long Beach. The city’s lab has the capacity to run about 25 to 30 tests a day and must rely on the private labs to report their own results for anything beyond that.

A shortage of testing materials has created a backlog both locally and nationally. Garcia says the city has a cache of about 500 test kits but it’s unable to use another 1,000 tests because they’re lacking a critical piece of material.

Even while they’re waiting for a fuller picture of COVID-19 in Long Beach, city officials are bracing for a swell in patients—as is the rest of the state.

“This virus loves to spread from person to person,” said Long Beach Public Health Officer Anissa Davis. “It’s spreading in our community right now.”

Statewide, the number of hospitalizations have doubled and the number of ICU patients have tripled in the last four days, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said the state must expand its hospital capacity by two-thirds if it’s to handle the coming wave.

Locally, every hospital in Long Beach is working to increase its capacity, according to Garcia.

“That right now is the top priority,” he said.

The city has identified several overflow cites for hospital beds, which officials will announce in coming days, according to Garcia.

Editor’s note: This story was updated with new information from a 3 p.m. media briefing.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Newsom wants retired doctors, medical students to help meet surge of COVID-19 patients

12:51 PM Monday, March 30 | Amid a spike in COVID-19 hospitalizations, California is opening the door for medical students and retired doctors to join the health care workforce.

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the plan Monday as hospitalizations across the state for the new coronavirus have doubled in the last four days.

In response, California is temporarily easing some licensing requirements and limitations on the scope of practice for doctors and nurses, Newsom said. Medical students who were near graduation before the pandemic hit are a prime example of workers who could help bolster California’s response, state officials said.

California hopes to bring thousands of health care professionals into the workforce to help meet the surge of coronavirus patients.

The governor called on all qualified health care professionals to sign up through a centralized website, HealthCorps.ca.gov, to see if they can help.

“The next few weeks are going to be critical in the state of California,” said Newsom, who emphasized the changes would be temporary and any medical professionals who sign up would be paid for their work.

Statewide, more than 1,400 people have been hospitalized for the new coronavirus, according to Newsom. Almost 600 of those are ICU patients, roughly triple the number from four days earlier, he said.

Long Beach hasn’t consistently released details on the number of people hospitalized locally.

To meet the expected surge of even more patients, California needs to increase its hospital capacity by roughly two-thirds, Newsom said.

California has scrambled to secure more medical equipment and set up infrastructure by creating field hospitals, calling in help from the Navy hospital ship USNS Mercy and reopening shuttered medical facilities like Community Hospital in East Long Beach.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Carnival Cruise Line to suspend operations through May 11

9:42 AM Monday, March 30 | Carnival Cruise Line is suspending operations through at least May 11, the company announced Monday.

The company operates three ships from its terminal in Long Beach, and all have been docked for the past few weeks as business halts in hopes of stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are working with our guests to address this disruption to their vacation plans and extend our apologies,” the company said in a written statement.

Carnival has automated its customer service and urges travelers to fill out a form to change travel plans.

Meanwhile, thousands of crew members are still aboard ships docked in harbors around the country. The company said it is “working diligently to continue to take care of them and get them home where possible.”

Staff Reports

Study: coronavirus deaths, hospitalizations likely won’t peak in California until late April

5:27 PM Sunday, March 29 | The worst impacts of the new coronavirus in California may still be almost a month away, with the greatest demand on hospitals and the highest rates of deaths not expected until late April, according to new projections.

Data released by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation, an independent global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine, projects the highest number of deaths per day in California will occur around April 25, at a peak of 148 deaths per day. The same projections predict the number of daily deaths and number of cases will start to decline after the late April peak, largely fading away by the beginning of July.

This chart shows projected COVID-19 deaths. The projections assume the continuation of strong social distancing measures and other protective measures. Photo courtesy the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

The projections also predict a likely total death toll through mid-July of 6,100 deaths across California and a worst-case scenario of approximately 17,100 deaths statewide.

An increasing demand on California’s hospitals is also expected to hit in late April, based on current projections. Peak demand on statewide health-care resources is expected on April 24, with a potential need for over 1,200 ventilators on that date, along with a potential shortfall of 299 intensive care unit hospital beds statewide projected on April 24. State and local leaders have announced planned increases in hospital capacity, including the expected reopening of Community Hospital in Long Beach, which could eliminate the projected shortfall across the state.

This chart shows projected use of hospital resources for COVID-19 patients. The projections assume the continuation of strong social distancing measures and other protective measures. Photo courtesy the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.

Unlike some previous projections estimating millions of deaths across the United States, the new forecast considers the state-by-state effects of social distancing, business closures and other protective measures.

“Our estimated trajectory of COVID-19 deaths assumes continued and uninterrupted vigilance by the general public, hospital and health workers, and government agencies,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, Director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). “The trajectory of the pandemic will change—and dramatically for the worse—if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions. We encourage everyone to adhere to those precautions to help save lives.”

Across the country, the institute predicts the nationwide peak will occur earlier than California, with the highest daily rate to occur on April 13, with an estimated 2,341 deaths nationally on that day. In total, the institute projects 81,114 deaths are likely to occur from Coronavirus across the U.S. by early August.

Staff Reports

City reports 99 cases of COVID-19, up from 88 the day before

2:45 PM Sunday, March 29 | Eleven more people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Long Beach, city officials said today, bringing the total number of cases to 99.

The number of new confirmed cases in Long Beach have started to jump by double digits in recent days as testing has ramped up. A week ago, there were only 15 cases in Long Beach. The city sometimes went days without a newly discovered case.

Health officials didn’t immediately say how many cases in Long Beach have required hospitalization. And local health officials said they’re no longer tracking exactly how many people have recovered since being infected because of “the limited capacity of public health resources.”

Only one person has died from COVID-19 so far in Long Beach, according to health officials. Across Los Angeles County, there have been 37 deaths and more than 2,100 cases.

One Long Beach police officer and 13 firefighters have tested positive for the new coronavirus, but not all of those cases are included in the city’s numbers because they are not all residents of the city.

City officials have repeatedly said the coronavirus is surely more widespread than limited testing has shown. Mayor Robert Garcia has urged everyone to practice social distancing and act as if exposure from anyone were possible.

Stephanie Rivera

Long Beach issues more rules: No funerals; recreation venues close

7:30 PM Saturday, March 28 | After closing all public beaches and bike paths, officials further clarified on Saturday what people can and can’t do under the city’s stay-at-home order intended to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus.

All closures are now in effect until May 1 or until further notice.

Among the biggest things to go is funerals: Death services are limited to the removal, care, preparation and burial of dead people or animals, according to the amended order.

Curbside pickup at dispensaries

The city is also now allowing licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to temporarily do curbside pickup as long as: payment is made in advance, patients submit valid government ID and their medical card before the pickup, the dispensary verifies the ID of the patient, products are delivered in opaque packaging, uniformed and licensed security officers are present and all other local and state laws are followed.

Essential businesses

The amended order also mandates that essential businesses must make every effort to ensure social distancing for employees, which includes allowing telecommuting, staggering schedules and separating employees by 6 feet. It also includes limiting meetings and eliminating employees traveling in vehicles together or limiting the need for employees to work in person in teams of two or more.

Beach closures

All public beaches, trails, sports courts, golf courses, dog parks, playgrounds, skate parks, public park and public beach parking lots and picnic areas are now closed. It also appears city workers have filled some skate parks in with mulch to prevent people from using them. In others, the city has erected a fence.

“Open park space and park pathways may still be utilized by individuals for personal health and wellness purposes, if appropriate social distancing measures are taken,” the order said.

A group of skaters stand outside Bixby Park’s closed off skate park after Long Beach officials have closed it and other recreation areas in an effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus. Photo by Steven Smith.

Non-essential businesses

In addition, private gyms in condos and apartment complexes must now close. And businesses that exclusively sell personal care products, like beauty supply stores, must also close.

If non-essential businesses are found to be operating, the city may issue citations, and the water department may shut off water service.

Valerie Osier

City adds some library lots to parking relief; suspends street sweeping tickets until May

6:25 PM Saturday, March 28 | City officials have suspended street sweeping tickets until May and have added five library parking lots to the list of free alternative off-street parking options for residents who are staying at home.

Residents must apply online for the free parking, and passes will be issued on a first come first serve basis, the city announced.

The additional parking lots that will now be available are:

  • Brewitt Library, 4036 E Anaheim St.
  • Burnett Library, 560 E Hill St.
  • Dana Library, 3680 Atlantic Ave.
  • Mark Twain Library, 1401 E Anaheim St.
  • Michelle Obama Library, 5870 Atlantic Ave.

This is in addition to the beach and garage lots the city previously opened:

  • Granada, 5100 E. Ocean Blvd.
  • Junipero, 2100 E. Ocean Blvd.
  • Belmont, 3998 E. Allin St.
  • City Place Garage A, 50 W. 6th St.
  • City Place Garage B, 50 E. 5th St.
  • City Place Garage C, 50 E. 3rd St.
  • Pike Garage, 65 Cedar Ave.
  • Aquarium Garage, 99 Aquarium Way
  • Terrace Theater Garage, 300 E. Ocean Blvd.

Residents can email [email protected] to get an application. A permit will be mailed to their home to provide access to the location they chose, if it’s not already full, once it’s completed and returned.

“We are working to provide more parking relief and options for residents and these new lots should help more people across the city,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “If you live in a parking impacted area, please take advantage of this program so the City can clean local streets for health and safety reasons.”

The city is also extending the suspension of street sweeping parking tickets until May 1.

Street sweeping will still happen in areas where the sweeper can effectively do it, but they will not be issuing tickets to violators.

“While citations will not be issued, the city encourages the community to move their vehicles during posted sweeping times,” the release said. “Street sweeping is a critical health service for the city, collecting thousands of tons of debris each year, therefore it is essential that vehicle owners make every effort to comply with parking restrictions.”

All other parking enforcement, including enforcement for metered parking, time zones, and red, white and blue curbs, will continue as usual.

Valerie Osier

6 more coronavirus deaths reported today in Los Angeles County

3:09 PM Saturday, March 28 | County health officials reported six more deaths from coronavirus, bringing the county’s death toll to 32 as the pandemic continues to spread in large numbers.

County officials reported another 344 confirmed cases of COVID-19—the disease caused by the virus—on Saturday, bringing the total to 1,804.

“We are sad to announce six additional deaths from COVID-19 today,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County Public Health director. “More than ever, it is crucial that we practice social distancing, and if we are sick, even with mild illness, we make every effort to self-isolate from others for at least seven days. Those who have been in close contact with a person who is positive for COVID-19 should self-quarantine for 14 days.

“Please do your part to not infect others or become infected yourself by adhering to the public health directives and practicing social distancing whenever you do go outside. If we all commit ourselves to stay home, stay away from others when sick, and stay six feet apart when out, we will save lives.”

The county’s mortality rate from the illness has risen above the levels seen across the country and in New York City, which has been particularly hard-hit by the virus, Ferrer said.

Of the five deaths reported by Los Angeles County on Friday, all were over the age of 60—four men and one woman, Ferrer said. On Thursday, the county reported nine deaths, eight of whom were also over age 60, and one in their 40s with underlying health conditions.

Ferrer noted that of the people who have tested positive for the virus in Los Angeles County, 1.8% have died. She said that is a higher mortality rate than the nation as a whole, and above that seen in New York City, which has a rate of about 1.4%.

City News Service

City reports 18 new coronavirus cases

2:15 PM Saturday, March 28 | Long Beach officials on Saturday reported that 18 more people in the city have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, bringing the total to 88 cases.

The number includes those who have already recovered, a police officer who tested positive and four of 13 firefighters who tested positive last week and live locally.

The city also announced it has opened a temporary shelter at Silverado Park, at 1545 W. 31st St., to provide additional housing to people experiencing homelessness. City officials said more details are expected to be released later.

Valerie Osier

Police will temporarily respond to non-violent calls for service by phone

11:40 AM Saturday, March 28 | The Long Beach Police Department is trying to limit public interaction as much as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus, and that includes responding to non-violent calls for service via phone, the city announced today.

“Response protocols for emergency calls for service where there is an immediate threat to public safety will continue,” the news release said. “Anyone in immediate danger or in an emergency situation should always call 9-1-1.”

Some examples of calls police will be able to respond to over the phone include: lost or found property, theft or attempted theft where the loss is under $5,000, forgery and identity theft reports, misdemeanor vandalism where the damage is under $900 and non-injury traffic collisions not involving impairment or creating a traffic hazard, according to the release.

“Community members can expect to speak directly with an officer over the phone when reporting non-violent crimes,” the release said. “All crime reports taken over the phone will be documented as normal and sent to the proper investigative detail for follow up.”

Residents will be encouraged to meet an officer in front of the location if a face-to-face response is determined to be necessary.

For face-to-face interactions, officers have been issued personal protective equipment and are practicing social distancing. Public facing desks, like the evidence/property counter and criminal registration desk, have been modified to appointment only. Senior Police Partner field responses have also been suspended.

Residents can also file crime reports online at www.longbeach.gov/police

In the jail, visitation has been limited to attorneys and clergy. If an arrestee displays flu-like symptoms, they will be isolated until they are medically evaluated. Field officers are also allowed to issue citations for low-level misdemeanors if the suspect has flu-like symptoms, rather than arresting them, the release said.

The jail and police department facilities are cleaned daily or multiple times per day.

Officers are also closely monitoring grocery stores and hospitals and the department has reassigned some officers to field duties. Some detectives are also available to work patrol if necessary, but will be prioritizing investigative cases, the department said.

Valerie Osier

Long Beach closes all beaches and bike paths through May 1

8:25 AM Saturday, March 28 | To reduce the spread of coronavirus, Long Beach on Friday announced the temporary closure of all beaches, bike and pedestrian paths through May 1, or until further notice. The closures are in alignment with Los Angeles County’s order.

“While many have been practicing social distancing and adjusting their daily routines, we continue to see the gathering of groups on our public beaches,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “It is critical that we continue to take swift action as we work together to do the right thing and address this public health crisis.”

Residents are encouraged to walk, run or bike in their neighborhood while maintaining social distancing guidelines and remaining a six-foot radius from others.

In addition to Long Beach beaches, the following City facilities and public spaces will continue to remain closed through May 1:

  • Basketball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Volleyball courts
  • Golf courses
  • Dog parks
  • Playgrounds
  • Skate parks
  • Picnic areas
  • Beach bike and pedestrian paths
  • Recreational trails

The following changes to operational activities and services will remain in place through May 1:

Animal Care Services

  • Long Beach Animal Care Services is open by appointment only. For questions, email [email protected].
  • For adoption services, call 562-570-4925.
  • For emergency surrender of sick/injured animals, or to reunite an animal with its owner, call 562-570-7387.
  • Animal Control Officers will continue to accommodate the most emergent health and public safety issues in the community.
  • Pet licensing can be done at the shelter by drop box; via mail by sending payment to: 7700 E. Spring St., Long Beach, CA 90815; over the phone by calling 562-570-3081; or online at: longbeachanimalcare.com.

City Hall & Port Administration Building

  • City Hall and the Port Administration Building will be closed to the public.
  • Essential City services will continue via phone, email, and online, but in-person services at City Hall will be suspended.
  • City Hall will transition to online services; residents and businesses are encouraged to use online public services.
  • In addition to online services, the City will accommodate the lack of in-person services by heavily staffing phone lines.

City Services

  • All services requiring in-person visits or public service counter assistance (including licensing and building permits) will be suspended or made available via phone, online or through email.
  • The Development Permit Center will provide modified procedures for plan pickups, plan submittals/permit issuances, and building inspections. Building inspection services will continue. For information, visit: longbeach.gov/lbds/building/
  • Health facilities are open for essential services; however, the Housing Authority will be closed to in-person visits and services will be provided online or via phone.
  • The Long Beach Police Department’s Business Desk at Police Headquarters will remain open, though the City encourages everyone to call 562-435-6711 for non-emergency police assistance and 562-570-7260 for general information and questions regarding filing police reports.
  • Jail visitation will be curtailed with the exception of clergy and lawyers.
  • All Public Works services will remain in place with the exception of in-person permit submissions, which can be made online at:longbeach.gov/lbds/building/permit-center/online/.
  • Refuse collection and street sweeping will continue per the usual schedule.
  • Energy Resources will provide restoration of gas service to customers currently shut-off for non payment. For more information, visit:longbeach.gov/energyresources.
  • Passport services and civil ceremonies provided by the City Clerk’s office will be suspended.

Libraries

  • Public city libraries will be closed.
  • While libraries are closed, Long Beach Public Library (LBPL) is relaxing its borrowing policy.
    • All late fees will be suspended and due dates extended during this period.
    • Patron holds for items are also suspended.
    • Patrons may continue to enjoy the items they have already borrowed.
    • Outdoor book drops are closed.
  • Library patrons are encouraged to make use of LBPL’s vast collection of digital resources available 24/7.
    • E-books and e-audiobooks for children and adults, magazines, music and movies are available for free streaming and download.
    • Students also may access free online tutoring and learning resources.
    • Most resources are accessible using your LBPL library card number and PIN.
  • Library staff are available to provide assistance through telephone reference at 562-570-7500, Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Utilities

  • Long Beach Water and Long Beach Energy Resources will continue to temporarily suspend water and natural gas shut-offs for nonpayment.
  • Long Beach Water’s Administration Building (1800 E. Wardlow Rd.) will be closed to the public until May 1, or until further notice. All services requiring in-person visits or service counter assistance will continue to be made available via phone, online or email only. Please visit Long Beach Water’s public updates page for information about the program modifications. For water/sewer emergencies, call 562.570.2390. For the latest information about the Board of Water Commissioner’s modified meetings schedule and agendas, please visit: lbwater.org.

Kelly Puente

Three more firefighters test positive for COVID-19

2:20 PM Friday, March 27 | Three more Long Beach firefighters have tested positive for COVD-19, bringing the total number to 13, officials said Friday.

The news comes as a Long Beach police officer in the city’s West Division also tested positive. City officials earlier this week said the firefighters all worked at Station 11 in North Long Beach. The station has been sanitized and has since resumed normal operations. It is unclear if the three new firefighter cases were also connected to Station 11.

Read the full story here.

Kelly Puente

LA County to close beaches, bike paths

11:57 AM Friday, March 27 | In an effort to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Los Angeles County will immediately close all beaches to the public, says Supervisor Janice Hahn.

“The crowds we saw at our beaches last weekend were unacceptable,” Hahn said in a written statement. “In order to save lives, beaches in LA County will be temporarily closed. I understand that this is a huge sacrifice for everyone who enjoys going to our beaches. But we cannot risk another sunny weekend with crowds at the beach spreading this virus. This closure is temporary and we can always reopen these beaches when it is safe to do so.”

The public health order signed today by LA County Public Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis, is effective immediately and applies to all LA County beaches, beach bathrooms, piers, promenades, and beach bike paths. In addition it incorporates previously announced closures of public trails.

It was not immediately whether the county closure will affect Long Beach, however Mayor Robert Garcia said at an afternoon press conference that the city will have additional information about beaches in the city.

“You can expect that we will be aligned with the county,” Garcia said. “That is something we’ve tried to do throughout this entire process.”

Staff Reports

Courts aren’t completely closed, and they’re ripe for COVID-19 spread, attorneys say

2:14 PM Thursday, March 26 | Trials across California have been shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but plenty of day-to-day business is still going on in Los Angeles County courthouses, and attorneys say it’s making them fear for their safety.

To underscore the seriousness of their concerns, two sides who are usually at odds have joined forces. Public defenders and prosecutors on Wednesday both called for the entire Los Angeles County Superior Court system to be closed for everything but the most urgent business until uniform rules can be put in place to enforce social distancing and produce sanitary conditions.

Many court services are already on hold, including in-person clerks’ windows and any misdemeanor arraignments with out-of-custody defendants, but the unions that represent public defenders, deputy district attorneys and L.A. City prosecutors say that’s not enough.

For now, courts are “the weakest link in the government’s response to the coronavirus and will remain so until the court can consistently implement more effective containment measures in every courthouse,” they said in a joint statement calling for video conferencing and telecommuting instead of in-person hearings.

For now, courts are scrambling to try to abide by a complicated web of local and statewide orders meant to curb the spread of COVID-19 while keeping courts operating as much as possible.

Full story here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

2 more Long Beach firefighters, 13 more residents test positive for COVID-19

1:24 PM Thursday, March 26 | A total of 10 Long Beach firefighters have now tested positive for COVID-19, up from eight on Wednesday, officials said.

And the overall number of confirmed COVID-19 cases for Long Beach residents climbed to 54, up from 41 on Wednesday. Six of the firefighters are not included in that total because they aren’t Long Beach residents, officials said.

Officials said eight people have recovered from the disease but didn’t immediately say how many have been hospitalized.

In Los Angeles County as a whole, there were 421 new cases reported Thursday, bringing the total to more than 1,200.

L.A. County also reported nine new deaths Thursday, bringing the countywide total to 21. So far only one person has died of COVID-19 in Long Beach.

About 1.6% of people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died in L.A. County, according to public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who emphasized that rate is worse than the flu.

She said the two best tools to fight he spread of the coronavirus are still social distancing for anyone without symptoms and self-isolation for anyone who may have the disease.

The Long Beach firefighters who have contracted COVID-19 are all connected to Fire Station 11 in North Long Beach. City officials on Thursday said Long Beach Fire Station 11 personnel were being deployed from nearby Station 12 and that all Station 11 apparatus are in full service and are responding to calls for service.

The Long Beach Police Department has implemented a temporary, modified response protocols for certain calls for service and is expected to release more information later today. Anyone calling 911 is also screened for COVID-19 symptoms as first-responders are dispatched.

Kelly Puente

Man detained for allegedly attempting to cough on people in Belmont Shore

11:28 AM Thursday, March 26 | A man was taken into custody Wednesday after he allegedly chased people and attempted to cough on them in Belmont Shore, police said.

Residents on the social network app Nextdoor said the man was following people along Second Street and threatening to deliberately cough on them. A video on the app appears to show him coughing near the entrance of an open business. The man is reportedly a transient who had set up a camp near the Bayshore Library on Second Street, residents said.

“This guy since Saturday has on multiple occasions intentionally coughed on people as they walked down Second Street and tried to do the same to me,” according to one resident. “He has a sick loud cough.”

“He just chased me and threatened to cough on me,” another resident wrote.

The Long Beach Police Department in a statement said officers detained the man at about 9:40 p.m. on Wednesday in the area of Second Street and Granada Avenue. He was taken to a mental health evaluation facility and the investigation is ongoing, police said.

The coronavirus pandemic has sparked fears of people deliberately attempting to infect others. This week, the United States Department of Justice announced that anyone intentionally spreading coronavirus could be charged with terrorism.

On Wednesday, a New Jersey man was charged with making terrorist threats after allegedly coughing in the direction of a supermarket employee and claiming he had coronavirus.

Kelly Puente

Hospitals prepare for influx of coronavirus patients; officials worry it won’t be enough

7:00 AM Thursday, March 26 | Bracing for a surge of COVID-19 patients in Long Beach and across the county, officials are in a life-and-death race to create hundreds of new intensive-care beds through a variety of conventional and creative tactics.

The immediate goal: To amass enough beds in public and private hospitals to simultaneously confront a massive influx of coronavirus patients while continuing to care for other patients who must be hospitalized.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has warned that, should current social distancing efforts fall short, coronavirus patients could outstrip hospital capacity to handle them, even though the numbers in Long Beach now are relatively small.

“In the next two to three weeks,” Garcia said at a Monday press conference, “we are either going to stay home, try our best to stay healthy and social distance, or we are going to fail at that and fill our hospitals to an emergency [level] where we will not have enough beds to be able to treat everyone that needs support.”

To avoid that possibility, government officials here and in Washington, along with hospital executives, already are undertaking a series of measures to prepare for a crush of coronavirus patients.

On Friday, for example, one of the Navy’s floating hospitals, the USNS Mercy, is expected to arrive in the Port of Los Angeles, providing more than 1,000 beds and 800 medical personnel to treat non-COVID-19 patients.

The Department of Defense ordered the ship to Southern California after receiving requests from Gov. Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn, who noted that of the county’s 2,200 intensive care beds, only 220 are available. As of noon Wednesday, there were over 800 confirmed coronavirus cases and 12 deaths in Los Angeles County.

Full story here.

Brandon Richardson

County preps order mandating self-isolation for presumed COVID-19 patients

4:00 PM Wednesday, March 25 | Los Angeles County is planning to issue a new health order that would legally require people to isolate themselves if they test positive for COVID-19 or a physician or clinician presumes they have it, officials said Wednesday.

Because Long Beach has its own health department with jurisdiction over the city, the order would not apply locally, but Mayor Robert Garcia said officials will discuss the possibility of implementing a similar rule.

At this point, Long Beach health officials are simply asking people to comply with quarantines unless it seems clear that the person will disregard the recommendation, said Dr. Anissa Davis, the city’s health officer.

Under L.A. County’s order, anyone believed to have COVID-19 must isolate themselves for a week until they’re no longer showing symptoms, said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, head of the county Department of Public Health.

“So if you’ve been tested for COVID-19 and you’re waiting for your test results or you’ve been told by a provider that you should presume that you’re positive for COVID-19, we ask that you follow the directives to self-isolate,” she said. “This means staying at home for at least seven days and until you’re fever- and symptom-free for 72 hours. Do not leave your home. Please do not leave your home unless it’s for a medical appointment.”

According to Ferrer, the county’s new order also requires a 14-day quarantine for all close contacts of a confirmed or presumed COVID-19 patient, including household members and caregivers.

“It’s really important that people understand—14 days is what’s required because it can take up to 14 days for you to develop any symptoms of COVID-19 from your exposure,” Ferrer said. “If you develop symptoms, you immediately move into needing now to be isolated and you have an additional seven days that you must stay isolated, and that includes you must be three days free from fever and symptoms before you can in fact leave your household.”

Everyone needs to have a plan in place for what they would do if they’re required to isolate themselves, Ferrer said.

“When you’re quarantined or isolated, you cannot go to the grocery store. You cannot go to the pharmacy,” she said.

Staff Reports

Canceled events, closed stores have ripple effects for businesses like print shops

3:00 PM Wednesday, March 25 | Just weeks ago, Fresh Prints Design was looking forward to printing requests for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, graduations and other local events and businesses.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit Long Beach and soon, closures and cancellations were happening left and right.

“Because of that we had to adjust,” said co-owner Melvin Ferrer of the closures state and local leaders have ordered to slow the spread of the virus.

Now, the Bixby Knolls printshop, which services small-to-medium sized companies, finds itself shifting gears and creating signage for restaurants offering to-go options and printing out signs for hospitals and testing facilities needing to promote preventive measures to combat the coronavirus.

When city officials last week ordered the closure of all bars and restricted restaurants to delivery or take-out options only, these businesses had to get creative with adjusting and promoting their services.

One way Fresh Prints Design is helping with that is with creating A-frame sign options that promote curbside pickup. They are also working with the Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association to prioritize making banners for small businesses and local artists.

The print shop has also had to shift its way of doing business. Its retail storefront is now closed and they are encouraging clients to pay online instead of with cash. While small orders are shipped directly, larger orders are picked up by appointment only.

Employees are operating remotely except for production staff.

“We’re sanitizing everything,” said co-owner Rachel Massari. “We are pretty much six feet away from each other with a phone three feet in the middle. We’re taking every precaution possible.”

Stephanie Rivera

Lack of tests slowed Long Beach’s ability to see scope of coronavirus infections

2:02 PM Wednesday, March 25 | Long Beach’s top health officer said Wednesday that officials missed out on early information about how the coronavirus was spreading locally because of a lack of supplies.

A nationwide lag in available tests and shortage in materials needed to perform those tests has now left Long Beach—one of the few cities in California with its own health department—struggling to catch up. And local health officials say it has prevented the city from getting an early grasp on the infection rate.

Now, weeks after the COVID-19 outbreak arrived, the city is triaging where tests should be used to prevent the disease from spreading among first-responders and health care workers.

“I wish we could have tested more people, especially a couple weeks ago. It really would have provided us with more information about what is going on in our community and given us an early warning system,” Long Beach City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in an interview. “But at this point, we know it’s in our community.”

As the coronavirus pandemic began, Long Beach was slow to receive test kits because federal and state officials prioritized other jurisdictions that had more confirmed cases, according to Davis.

Davis said the city’s health department received its first round of test kits last week and has since tested 60 people. Those numbers don’t indicate how many Long Beach residents private labs have tested. Private labs are only required to report positive results to the city.

While the city doesn’t have exact numbers, Davis said she believes a few hundred people in Long Beach have been tested in private labs.

Full story here.

Kelly Puente

Live chat with Dr. Mario Molina: COVID-19 and the healthcare system

1:00 PM Wednesday, March 25 | The Long Beach Post will be hosting a series of live, 30-minute discussions with experts and others to gain perspective on the coronavirus health crisis.

The first discussion was held today, and moderated by Publisher David Sommers, with guest Dr. Mario Molina, former chief executive officer of Molina Healthcare who formerly worked as a medical researcher.

For a list of future live chats, click here.

Staff Reports

Eight Long Beach firefighters test positive for COVID-19

12:45 PM Wednesday, March 25 | Eight Long Beach firefighters are in self-isolation at home after testing positive for COVID-19, city officials said Wednesday.

City health officials are working to determine the exact location and origin of exposure, but Fire Station 11, at 160 E. Market St. in North Long Beach, has been identified as a common location were the firefighters recently worked, officials said.

The new cases bring the total to 41 confirmed cases in Long Beach. Four of the firefighters are Long Beach residents and are included in that total. Four others are residents of other areas.

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement said the city is doing “everything it can” to support to the firefighters and their families.

“Our Long Beach Firefighters are community heroes, and they have been on the frontlines every day of this health crisis,” Garcia said. “We recognize the seriousness of this latest development and are committed to doing all that we can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Long Beach.”

Local health officials have since notified additional city employees who may also have been exposed, and Fire Station 11 is being sanitized. Operations will resume once the sanitization has been completed.

The Health Department will be conducting additional testing as needed.

“The treatment of these firefighters, along with all of our current positive cases, remains our highest priority,” City Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said in a statement. “We are aware of the impact of these results on our community and understand the significant concerns this news brings. We are working diligently to identify potential situations where additional exposure may have occurred.”

Full story here.

Kelly Puente

Long Beach bans all gatherings, closes parking lots for beaches and parks

2:30 PM Tuesday, March 24 | In an effort to enforce sweeping stay-at-home orders from the state, county and city, Long Beach has closed parking lots for parks and beaches and reiterated that all gatherings are prohibited.

Belmont Veterans Memorial Pier and El Dorado Nature Center will be closed in addition to all parking lots at city-owned parks and beaches through April 19.

The decision follows in the steps of Los Angeles, San Diego and Orange counties, who have all moved to close parking lots at parks and beaches.

Additionally, gatherings of any size, public or private, will be prohibited citywide as part of the updated order.

“We are taking this next step because there are too many people ignoring social distancing while visiting our trails and beaches,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “You can still ride your bicycle, walk your dog or go for a run, but we’re encouraging folks to avoid any type of gathering and to avoid groups of people. This is a health crisis and we must act now.”

The city says all residents must remain at home, with the following exceptions as long as social distancing of six feet or more is maintained:

  • Travel to and from essential businesses.
  • Travel to work at, or provide service to, a healthcare operation or essential infrastructure.
  • Engage in essential activities such as going to the grocery store or a medical appointment.
  • Exercise, jogging and other outdoor activities.

As previously announced, sports facilities at City-owned parks and beaches remain closed.

Residents living in parking impacted neighborhoods who have obtained special permits will still be allowed to park their vehicles at city-owned beach lots as a free alternative through April 30. Vehicles parking in a beach lot without a permit are subject to enforcement. Applications are still being accepted for free permits at the following beach parking lots:

  • Granada, 5100 E. Ocean Blvd.
  • Junipero, 2100 E. Ocean Blvd.
  • Belmont, 3998 E. Allin St.

Kelly Puente

Dignity Health to offer free virtual urgent care

1:00 PM Tuesday, March 24 | People who believe they are experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19 can now talk to a doctor for free through Dignity Health’s virtual urgent care, the healthcare provider announced this week.

If a person is experiencing a fever of 100.4 degrees or above, cough or shortness of breath, they can get a free virtual visit without risking exposing others.

Wait times may be longer because more people are using the service, but “virtual urgent care is still likely to be a faster and safer option than going to the doctor’s office or emergency room,” according to the company.

The service allows for patients to talk to a doctor on the phone or through video chat. The cost is free to those with symptoms of COVID-19, but usually costs a flat fee of $35. Patients will need to use the coupon code “COVID19.”

The health provider will decide if each patient’s situation is appropriate for a virtual visit at the beginning and if it isn’t, the patient will not be charged a fee.

“As the new coronavirus creates more demand at local healthcare facilities, we are encouraging all patients to consider a virtual visit as an alternative to going to the doctor’s office,” the company said.

Though, patients cannot be diagnosed with COVID-19 through a virtual visit, they can be screened and they can ask questions and be recommended next steps.

To use it, patients can go to https://www.dignityhealth.org/virtualcareanywhere, download the app or call 855-356-8053 and use the coupon code COVID19.

Valerie Osier

City Council to consider opening second homeless shelter due to COVID-19

12:49 PM Tuesday, March 24 | At its meeting this evening, the Long Beach City Council will consider opening a second winter shelter in North Long Beach for six months in order to abide by social distancing orders brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

If approved, the city’s former North Neighborhood Library at 5571 Orange Ave.—which has been used as a winter homeless shelter in the past—would be used as a shelter from April 1 to Sept. 30.

At its March 17 meeting, the City Council authorized extending the operation of the current West Long Beach winter homeless shelter until Sept. 30.

That facility, which holds 125 beds and is located at 1718-1722 Hayes Ave, will continue to be funded by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and operated by the nonprofit U.S. VETS.

However, if the city council approves the second shelter, both facilities will split the 125 beds to adhere to social distancing requirements.

“In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent requirement for social distancing, the Hayes Site can longer support the appropriate number of beds and maintain the recommended minimum distance of six feet between persons,” health and economic development department heads stated in a report.

Full story here.

Stephanie Rivera

Latest numbers: Long Beach reports 7 new coronavirus cases

12:28 PM Tuesday, March 24 | The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Long Beach climbed to 28 on Tuesday.

The number is up from 21 cases reported on Monday and comes as the city saw its first fatality—a woman in her 50s with underlying health conditions.

The latest numbers include one of two Cal State Long Beach students who have contracted the new coronavirus. The second student was not counted in Long Beach’s numbers because the person does not live in the city, officials said.

It’s unclear how many people are being monitored for possible exposure to COVID-19. The city’s health department said it is no longer reporting that number because it is focusing on “prioritizing the highest-risk contacts.”

As the number of cases rises, Long Beach is building a temporary medical facility for non-COVID-19 patients at the Port of Long Beach’s former Sea Launch facility. A Navy hospital ship is also headed to the Port of Los Angeles.

Based on advice from the state, the Long Beach Health Department issued guidance to local healthcare providers not to test patients with only mild COVID-19 symptoms because of a shortage of tests.

City health officials said testing will continue to be based on medical need and will help ensure that people who most need testing can get results rapidly, while reducing strain on the health care system.

Los Angeles County on Tuesday reported four new deaths for a total of 11 in the county, including one person under the age of 18. The county confirmed 128 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 669 cases.

Kelly Puente

How LBUSD students can get free Chromebooks, internet and meals

11:57 AM Tuesday, March 24 | The Long Beach Unified School District’s campuses are closed until at least May 3, but the district’s more than 70,000 students still have access to online instruction and vital services including free meals. Here’s how families can access these resources.

Home learning opportunities

While the district’s campuses are closed, students will get instruction via the LBUSD’s “Home Learning Opportunities” hub. Click here to visit the website.

Once on the hub, navigate to your school, then find your teachers for instructions on how to access Google Classroom for instruction and assignments.

According to LBUSD deputy superintendent Jill Baker, this schoolwork will be “relevant and standards-based,” but will not be graded.

Special-education students can find additional resources on the Home Learning Opportunities hub, and on their school pages.

Chromebooks

Students who have access to a computer at home are asked to use that computer, but students who need one can check out a Chromebook to use at home for the duration of the closures.

They’ll be distributed at Cabrillo High School, Hughes Middle School, Jordan High School, Lakewood High School, Millikan High School and Poly High School.

Anyone who needs a Chromebook can show up at those campuses between 8 and 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 25 through Friday March 27.

A student ID is required to check out a Chromebook.

Home internet

Those who need internet at home will have the ability to get either a home-internet hotspot from the district or a low-cost internet plan through a provider. More information on both options will be provided at the distribution sites when picking up Chromebooks.

Meals

Free meal service will be provided through the duration of the shutdown. All children ages 1 to 18, regardless of whether they’re a student or not, can pick up meals from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m. on weekdays. Meals will be grab-and-go style lunches, as well as a breakfast to eat the following morning.

Meals will be serviced at every LBUSD campus except Beach/Reid, Browning, CAMS, Lowell, Millikan, Naples, PAAL, Renaissance, Sato and Stanford.

LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou said the district distributed 39,767 meals last week.

Mike Guardabascio

Two Cal State Long Beach students test positive for COVID-19

9:40 AM Tuesday, March 24 | Two Cal State long Beach students have tested positive for COVID-19 and are in self-isolation off campus, officials said Tuesday.

President Jane Close Conoley in a email to students and faculty said health officials are notifying those who may have come into contact with the students.

In one case, the student has not been on campus for two weeks, while in the second case, health officials said there was no “opportunity for on-campus exposure,” she said.

Read the full story here.

Kelly Puente

Courts suspend trials, postpone misdemeanor hearings during COVID-19 outbreak

8:40 AM Tuesday, March 24 | In an unprecedented order, California’s chief justice on Monday suspended all superior court jury trials for 60 days because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“The world, country, and state face a life-threatening pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus,” Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye said in her order, which impacts all 58 superior courts.

Read the full story here.

Wire reports

Woman dies of COVID-19 in Long Beach, the city’s first fatal case

6:00 PM Monday, March 23 | Long Beach officials today confirmed the first fatal case of COVID-19 in the city as the number of cases locally continued to climb.

Authorities said a woman in her 50s with underlying health conditions died from the new coronavirus disease. Epidemiologists are working to track whether she may have exposed anyone else to the virus, officials said.

“We’ve been dreading this day and were hoping it would never come,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We extend our deepest condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and loved ones.”

The woman is one of 21 patients in Long Beach who have tested positive for COVID-19, city health officials said Monday afternoon.

Read the full story here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

‘We’re ready’: Conservation Corps providing frontline support during pandemic

5:00 PM Monday, March 23 | Over the weekend, a group of about 18 young men and women quickly assembled at a temporary hospital facility at the Port of Long Beach in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The request for a medical center to add hospital bed capacity for non-COVID-19 patients came from the city’s emergency response team.

It was completed by the Conservation Corps of Long Beach, a nonprofit organization that provides occupational skills training among other programs for about 80 at-risk youth ages 18 to 26.

The CCLB is one of 14 certified conservation corps programs in the state, and while corps members are usually seen providing additional support to city departments—like public works and parks, recreation & marine—they traditionally serve during an emergency and time of need, according to Executive Director/CEO Dan Knapp.

“We’re ready,” said Knapp of his workforce.

In the past, corps members have responded to post-fire cleanups, flood control management and even providing additional help in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

On Friday, when Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the deployment of the National Guard to help distribute food, he also noted the deployment and service of these conservation corps programs.

“This short-term assistance from the California National Guard allows time to mobilize AmeriCorps, California Conservation Corps and Local Conservation Corps members, and other volunteers where counties have identified serious gaps,” Newsom’s office stated at the time.

Knapp imagines they will soon be asked to distribute food in connection with the governor’s request.

While lower priority projects have been dropped due to urgent coronavirus-related needs, corps members are still completing tasks necessary to maintain cleanliness—an important aspect in combating the spread of the virus.

One such example is contract work to clean up Second Street in Belmont Shore, including emptying trash cans. However, even tasks like these have required readjustments to keep in line with orders like social distancing.

“We have completely altered how we do business,” Knapp noted.

Knapp said that the conservation corps will continue to be in this holding pattern until another call comes their way.

Their next project will likely be coming from the County Office of Emergency Services to organize and load boxes of personal protective equipment, like gloves and masks, that is being stored at the Long Beach Convention Center and other locations and will be distributed to area hospitals, clinics and resource centers.

Stephanie Rivera

Street sweeping ticketing to resume March 30

3:24 PM Monday, March 23 | Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said Monday that street sweeping ticketing would resume Monday, March 30, after a pause to help residents during implementation of measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The mayor said clearing roads and streets is imperative, particularly as storms pass through the area. If the city doesn’t resume this service, it could have not only a health emergency to deal with, but a flooding emergency as well, Garcia said at an afternoon press conference.

The mayor noted that the city has opened up city lots and garages for those who live in parking impacted areas at no cost.

For more information on how to get a permit, click here. For questions, call 562-570-8055.

Melissa Evans

Los Angeles County closes trails

2:38 PM Monday, March 23 | Los Angeles County has closed its trails due to overcrowding this past weekend, officials said.

“You may walk/run in your neighborhood for fresh air and exercise,” the county said in a tweet. “Stay *at least* 6 feet away from others when you leave home.”

Officials in Long Beach on Sunday also expanded the city’s restrictions on gatherings to include sports facilities and picnic areas at local parks and beaches.

Wire reports

Clerks offices closed, jury service canceled at local courts

10:40 AM Monday, March 23 | COVID-19 is making it harder to file paperwork at courthouses in Los Angeles County.

Starting today, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County is closing the clerks offices at all of its locations, including in Long Beach, according to a public notice.

All jury service has also been canceled through the week of April 6, according to the court’s website.

Most courtrooms will stay open to hear “time-sensitive, essential court hearings and matters,” the court’s notice said, but shutting down clerks offices means any paperwork will have to be filed electronically or using drop boxes set up outside of courthouses.

One exception is the Sylmar Courthouse, which has been ordered shut down for three days after a deputy public defender tested positive for COVID-19.

The court system is also setting up special procedures to make sure emergency motions and restraining orders can be filed. Officials said they’ll outline more details soon.

“Unrepresented litigants who cannot electronically file or fax file their pleading and attorneys who are required to submit paper copies of pleadings, are strongly encouraged to send them via U.S. Mail or other commercial delivery,” the court said.

Authorities said more info will be continually posted on the court’s website at lacourt.org.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Memorial Medical Center to accept donations of masks, protective equipment

5:00 PM Sunday, March 22 | Community members who want to donate unused personal protective equipment like disposable gloves, masks and gowns, can do so at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center starting this Monday, officials announced.

Right now, workers at Memorial and neighboring Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital have the gear needed to protect themselves and others while caring for COVID-19 patients, said Richele Steele, a spokeswoman for MemorialCare Health System, which runs both hospitals.

However, with the number of COVID-19 patients rising daily, “and the outpouring of generosity from the Long Beach community,” Memorial is accepting the community’s help of donating supplies, Steele said.

The following new or unused items can be donated:

  • Disposable face masks
  • N95 masks, sometimes called respirators
  • Eye protection including face shields and safety goggles
  • Disposable gowns
  • Disposable gloves, especially non-latex
  • Disposable surgical caps
  • Disposable foot covers
  • Wipes: bleach or antimicrobial
  • Hand sanitizer

More specialized items:

  • PAPRs (powered air-purifying respirators) and PAPR hoods
  • CAPRs
  • Ventilators

Starting Monday, March 23 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday to Friday, a donation site will be open in the Todd Cancer Pavilion parking lot at 2810 Long Beach Blvd. Click here for more information.

Anyone who isn’t feeling well should wait until they’re feeling better to donate, officials said.

Stephanie Rivera

Trump approves National Guard activation in California, sends Navy hospital ship to LA Port

4:45 PM Sunday, March 22 | President Donald Trump announced today that he had approved activating the National Guard in California, New York and Washington state to allow governors more flexibility in carrying out missions to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

His administration is also sending a massive Navy hospital ship to the Port of Los Angeles in an attempt to take the strain off local hospitals dealing with COVID-19 patients, federal officials said in a Sunday afternoon news conference.

Through the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal government will be funding the full cost of deploying the National Guard units to “carry out approved missions to stop the virus” while the governors remain in command, Trump said.

Read the full story here.

Stephanie Rivera

Sports facilities are closed at Long Beach parks and beaches, officials say

4:15 PM Sunday, March 22 | Because groups of people continued to use them despite orders to stay home and avoid groups, Long Beach officials said Sunday that all sports facilities and picnic areas are closed at local parks and beaches.

“We continue to see large groups of people gathering in our parks playing team sports and at the beach—and that is a problem,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement.

The beaches and parks will remain open so people can walk, bike and hike, but many amenities and activities will be shut down. That includes:

  • Basketball courts
  • Tennis courts
  • Volleyball courts
  • Dog parks
  • Playgrounds
  • Skate parks
  • Picnic areas
  • Group exercise in parks

Long Beach residents and the rest of California were ordered to stay home by state and local officials last week to slow the spread of COVID-19. As they made the announcement, authorities emphasized it was OK to go outside and exercise as long as people maintained a proper social distance of at least 6 feet.

This weekend Garcia and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti both tweeted that many people didn’t seem to be taking those guidelines seriously.

“I am seeing tons of people out there acting like there’s no crisis,” Garcia wrote. “You could be carrying the virus, have no symptoms, and be responsible for the illness or worse of others.”

If people do go out to local parks, health officials urged them to keep their distance from others and be careful when touching surfaces like handrails, water fountains and crosswalk buttons. They noted that research suggests the new coronavirus can survive on some surfaces for up to 72 hours.

“We are in the midst of a public health emergency and people of all ages can be affected by COVID-19. For the sake of our hospitals, first responders and loved ones it is critical that everyone follow our Safer at Home order,” Garcia said.

Officials are also working on further guidance about beaches, he added. In a Sunday afternoon address, Garcetti said he and other local officials are considering closing beaches altogether if necessary.

“Your decision to not physically distance yourself may kill someone,” he said.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Fifth person dies as coronavirus continues to spread in Los Angeles County

2:43 PM Sunday, March 22 | The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to climb across Los Angeles County Sunday with 71 new patients testing positive for the disease, health officials said.

In just the last 48 hours, there have been 132 new confirmed cases in the county, bringing the total to 409, which includes the 15 in Long Beach. Health officials have repeatedly said are likely many additional cases they don’t know about.

Authorities also announced Sunday that a fifth person in Los Angeles County has died from the coronavirus. The person was a Culver City resident who was over 65 and had underlying health conditions, they said.

“Because there are positive cases across the entire county, the public should not think one location is safer than (another),” officials said in an update.

Officials reiterated the best way to slow COVID-19 from spreading and potentially overloading hospitals with serious cases is to stay at home and stay at least six feet away from others.

“In tough times, I know many Angelenos want to do what we always do—find peace & comfort in the natural beauty of our city. But please remember: outdoor activity is only allowed when practicing physical distancing. Crowding hiking trails or beaches will further spread COVID-19,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted Sunday.

Health officials said it was critical that everyone obey local and statewide health orders that banned gatherings and instructed people to stay home unless they’re performing an essential function.

“Seriously people, you need to practice social distancing. I am seeing tons of people out there acting like there’s no crisis. You could be carrying the virus, have no symptoms, and be responsible for the illness or worse of others,” Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia tweeted.

Staff Reports

No new cases of COVID-19 found in Long Beach as testing continues to be limited

12:30 PM Sunday, March 22 | City officials announced Sunday that there are no new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Long Beach, keeping the total at 15 patients.

The number of those being monitored for possible exposure remains at about 140 people while the number of those recovered is still at four.

Health officials said they and private labs have continued to perform tests for COVID-19, but they weren’t able to say how many. Long Beach has been limited in its screenings because of a lack of supplies.

“The testing is just really hard,” Mayor Robert Garcia said Friday.

He said the federal government has been slow in getting city labs the equipment they need.

“We don’t have enough tests,” he said. ”That’s just the facts.”

Because of that, the current numbers aren’t a completely accurate reflection of how widespread the coronavirus may be locally.

“Everyone should be acting and responding as if everyone around them was infected,” Garcia said.

In Los Angeles County, officials have given up on trying to isolate the spread of the virus by using tests to pinpoint it.

The Los Angeles Times reported health officials sent a letter advising doctors only to test patients for the coronavirus if the results would make a difference in how the patient was treated.

According to the Times, the letter said the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health “is shifting from a strategy of case containment to slowing disease transmission and averting excess morbidity and mortality.”

On Saturday night, county health officials announced that two more people have died from COVID-19 and an additional 59 people in the county tested positive for the disease, bringing the total to four deaths and 351 people infected.

The two people who died most recently were both over the age of 65 and had underlying health conditions, health officials said Saturday. One resided in Del Rey, the other in Miracle Mile, the county department of public health reported. As of Saturday night, 69 positive cases have been hospitalized in Los Angeles County. Nobody in Long Beach has died from COVID-19.

Staff Reports

Community hospital postpones accepting transfer patients, plans to reopen soon

4:46 PM Saturday, March 21 | Community Hospital postponed its planned reopening on Saturday as operators were still working out plans for accepting transfer patients from nearby hospital to help with the anticipated rise in coronavirus patients.

Brandon Dowling, a spokesman for hospital operator Molina, Wu, Network, said the hospital expects to reopen soon.

“We are working around the clock to finalize the arrival of patients from local hospitals and to ensure that we have the necessary staffing, equipment and medical supplies to guarantee their safety and care,” Dowling said in a statement. “We will not be accepting patients today, however we expect to start accepting transfer patients in the coming days.”

The 94-year-old East Long Beach has been closed since 2018 due to seismic compliance issues, shuttering the area’s only emergency room. Operators were planning to reopen later this year, but the facility was given the green light to open early under special order from the governor’s office.

Full story here.

Kelly Puente

Long Beach to allow residents in impacted areas to park in city lots, garages

4:25 PM Saturday, March 21 | Long Beach beginning today will offer free parking permits for residents in impacted neighborhoods and increased parking meter courtesy times—moves intended to help blunt the effects of requiring the majority of residents to stay at home to stem the spread of coronavirus.

“We are looking at every way we can to make the inconveniences of this health emergency easier for residents,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement. “The patterns of our daily lives will be different for the foreseeable future, and it’s our hope that these parking measures will make one aspect of that less stressful.”

Now through through April 30, residents living in parking impacted neighborhoods can apply for a free parking permit for one several beach lots or parking garages.

Residents can email [email protected] to receive an application. Passes will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Full story and locations here.

Kelly Puente

How Long Beach will enforce a sweeping stay-at-home order

2:24 PM Saturday, March 21 | The city is expecting residents and businesses to comply voluntarily with a new stay-at-home order that went into effect Friday, but will use more stringent measures—including fines and arrest—if necessary, according to a new memo that gives more clarity to enforcement measures.

Signs are posted throughout a farmers market to remind people to stay a safe distance away from one another in Downtowntown Long Beach Friday, March 20, 2020. Some people are taking any precautions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

The sweeping order, called “Safer at Home,” requires all non-essential workers and others to stay home, with the exception of grocery shopping, caring for a relative, health needs and other necessary activities. The city is asking residents not to gather in groups of more than 10 while indoors, and to practice social distancing of at least 6 feet from other people to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The state and county have issued similar orders in hopes of stemming the spread of coronavirus, or COVID-19.

But, given limited police and city resources, how such an order would be enforced has remained unclear. The memo says police will use their authority if necessary, though officers in the field are being directed to first evaluate the situation—if a non-essential business is found to be open, for example—and work to educate those involved and try to get their voluntary compliance.

“Enforcement action should be the last option utilized, unless the circumstances pose an immediate threat of violence or other serious public safety concerns,” the memo said.

It is, however, a misdemeanor crime for businesses to not comply with the health department’s order and it can be punished with a fine, imprisonment or both, according to the city. The business’ staff or representative could be cited, and the business itself could have its business license and health permit revoked.

Full story here.

Valerie Osier

Long Beach reports one new case of coronavirus

12:25 PM Saturday, March 21 | In its latest count, Long Beach officials announced one new coronavirus case, bringing the total to 15.

A total of four people have recovered so far and officials have been or are currently monitoring 140 people, which is what officials also reported Friday.

Testing for the virus will likely slow, since county health officials have advised doctors to restrict testing for COVID-19 unless a positive result would change the patient treatment. It’s not clear how many people have been tested in Long Beach because some testing has been done at private labs, officials have said.

California now has 1,278 confirmed cases and 24 people have so far died. Nationwide, 19,624 case have been reported.

Valerie Osier

Long Beach’s job center is open to help with searches, unemployment

12:00 PM Saturday, March 21 | The Workplace job center is still open to help people affected by the coronavirus pandemic, officials reminded residents today.

The center, located at 4811 Airport Plaza Dr., Suite 120, can help workers find information on job openings, vocational training and unemployment insurance benefits.

We know the current health emergency is negatively impacting thousands of workers and hundreds of businesses here in Long Beach,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “Keeping our job centers open to assist our employers, workers and their families during this economic emergency helps to address many other challenges.”

The center is managed by the Pacific Gateway Workforce Innovation Network and has information sessions scheduled weekdays from 9 to 11 a.m. With social distancing, the orientations are limited to nine people at a time, but one-on-one counseling can happen over the phone. They also have a live feed with resources and updates at 2 p.m. on weekdays from the Pacific Gateway’s Instagram account @pacgateway.

Businesses looking for information on small business loans, business consulting, WorkShare employment program can visit the city’s Economic Development Department website or call 562-570-4249.

Staff Reports

Long Beach clarifies non-essential businesses, includes hair salons

7:05 PM Friday, March 20 | After confusion over what businesses are considered essential and non-essential in the county and state’s stay at home order, the city of Long Beach has offered some clarification: barbershops, hair and nail salons are considered non-essential and must stay closed.

“We ask that you follow the City’s amended Health Order and we will provide any additional information if we find that the State’s order has additional restrictions,” said Mayor Robert Garcia.

The order originally said personal grooming services were considered essential but has now amended the order to classify them as not. This includes hair salons and barber shops, nail salons, waxing services, cosmetology, electrolysis, spa services, such as facials, massages and body scrubs. Gyms and fitness centers remain non-essential.

Medical cannabis dispensaries, bakeries and businesses that provide ​death care​ services, such as the removal, care and preparation and internment of deceased persons or animals are all considered essential, according to the city’s release.

The state has also started allowing sales of alcoholic beverages to-go, and permit drive-through service for places that sell alcohol.

“As we continue to navigate through this unprecedented public health crisis, we will continue to review the statewide order to ensure the City’s compliance by amending our order accordingly,” the city said in a news release.

Valerie Osier

Long Beach Transit to modify schedule in response to COVID-19

4:40 PM Friday, March 20 | Beginning Sunday, Long Beach Transit will modify its service schedule to operate all buses from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.

The change is in response to calls from the sate and city to minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19, as well as the result of school and other closures.

“This is a necessary step to maintain vital transit services for essential travel,” said President and CEO Kenneth A. McDonald.

The modified bus schedule will run until further notice and customers are encouraged to plan ahead. In addition to the modified bus schedule, the customer information call center and the Transit & Visitor Information Center in Downtown Long Beach will operate Monday through Friday only, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

LBT’s website, ridelbt.com, will be updated with the modified bus schedule information and customers can visit the website or call the customer call center at 562-591-2301 for the latest information.

Staff Reports

CSU Chancellor, campus presidents postpone retirements amid pandemic

3:41 PM Friday, March 20 | California State University Chancellor Timothy White and Cal State Northridge President Dianne Harrison will delay their previously announced end-of-academic-year retirements due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Long Beach-based university system announced today.

“As the world faces an unprecedented crisis, now more than ever, it is crucially important for stable and experienced hands to provide thoughtful guidance on all areas affecting the operations of the university,” CSU Board of Trustees Chairman Adam Day said in a statement.

Cal State East Bay President Leroy Morishita will also postponed his planned retirement, according to the CSU. Day said the searches for a new CSU chancellor and new presidents for the two universities will be paused, with the efforts restarting later this year.

In October 2019, White announced that he intended to retire as CSU chancellor in July 2020. Assuming the position of chancellor in 2012, White “led the university’s restoration and resurgence from Great Recession-era cuts to achieve unprecedented heights for student enrollment and graduation,” Day said.

Harrison, who has been CSUN president since 2012, announced her retirement plans in November, saying she would step down at the end of June. Morishita announced his retirement plans in September. He has led Cal State East Bay since 2011.

“I am pleased and relieved Chancellor White and Presidents Morishita and Harrison will continue to provide their leadership for the immediate future,” Day said.

City News Service

LBUSD schools to close for another 2 weeks

3:22 PM Friday, March 20 | Long Beach school officials announced Friday that schools will be closed at least another two weeks, to May 3, as officials across the city, state and country try to contain the spread of coronavirus.

“Schools may reopen on Monday, May 4, but an additional extension of the closure beyond that date is possible,” the district said in a statement.

The district will continue to provide free meals during that time, though on a slightly modified schedule. Any additional changes will be announced.

The district will also be sending home-learning plans to students and parents on Monday, and students will be able to pick up Chromebooks to complete work assignments on Wednesday.

Updated information will be available at lbschools.net.

Mike Guardabascio

Live chat with the Long Beach mayor; Chat en vivo con Alcalde Robert García

1:00 PM Friday, March 20 | The Long Beach Post, Press-Telegram and Signal Tribune co-hosted a live chat with Mayor Robert Garcia and Epidemiologist Belinda Prado, who works in the Long Beach Department of Health & Human Services.

To watch the chat in english, click here.

The Long Beach Post, Press-Telegram y Signal Tribune organizaron una conversación en vivo con el alcalde Robert García y la epidemióloga Belinda Prado, que trabaja en el Departamento de Salud y Servicios Humanos de Long Beach.

Para ver en español, haga clic aquí.

Staff Reports

Latest numbers: Long Beach sees two new cases of coronavirus

12:51 PM Friday, March 20 | The number of coronavirus cases continued to climb in Long Beach on Friday with two new cases reported, bringing the total to 14, officials said.

Approximately 140 people are currently being monitored, up from 130 on Thursday. Three individuals have recovered, officials said.

It is not clear how many people have been tested for coronavirus. City officials expect the numbers to grow as more people are being tested, but Long Beach was late to received test kits as they were distributed to other cities and counties with higher rates.

Statewide, the numbers have climbed to 1,063 confirmed cases and 21 deaths. More than 14,000 cases have been reported nationwide.

Kelly Puente

Countywide order directs all residents to stay home

6:10 PM Thursday, March 19 | Officials are ordering all residents of Los Angeles County—including Long Beach—to stay at home in the latest of several extraordinary measures to stem the spread of coronavirus.

The order, effective at midnight tonight, excludes workers in essential industries, such as grocery stores, workers at the ports, health workers and first-responders—and residents will still be able to shop for food, care for family members or go for a walk.

However malls, museums, retail stores, nonprofits and other venues must stop operations, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. No public and private gatherings of any size will be allowed: “The only time you should leave your home is for essential activities,” he said.

Restaurants are allowed to stay open for pick-up or delivery only, officials said.

But officials are asking all non-essential workers and businesses to close operations or move them remote, and for residents to not gather anywhere with more than 10 people.

Read the full story here.

Kelly Puente

As schools close, disabled students lose critical care

1:38 PM Thursday, March 19 | When Long Beach schools shut down Friday, Mayra Garcia-Cortez knew it didn’t just mean a few days of missed classwork for her brother. It had the potential to undermine months of hard-fought therapy.

Jared, a 19-year-old with autism, cerebral palsy and 14 other disabilities, attends a specialized campus where he works on life skills and goes on outings meant to prepare him for vocational school after he ages out of his K-12 education.

As the coronavirus pandemic hit and schools scrambled to set up off-campus learning, Jared, who is nonverbal and struggles with motor skills, was sent home with a work packet that covered things like multiplication tables.

“Excuse my language, but what the hell is he supposed to do with that?” Mayra said.

Jared is one of the tens of thousands of students in Long Beach and across the country who rely on their schools not just for academics but for critical therapies and services they may not get anywhere else.

The coronavirus has disrupted the lives of almost every student across the state as districts have shut down, but for kids with special needs, the stakes are especially high. As the world reacts to the health and economic crises caused by COVID-19, these students’ families and advocates fear they’re being forgotten.

Read the full story here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Long Beach reports 2 more cases of coronavirus; 3 people have recovered

12:00 PM Thursday, March 19 | Two additional people have been infected with coronavirus, bringing the Long Beach’s total to 12, city officials announced Thursday.

The number of people who’ve tested positive is up from 10 on Wednesday, and five reported on Saturday. Three of those who originally tested positive have recovered, officials said.

Approximately 130 people currently being monitored—a number that has not changed from Wednesday.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, nurses takes the temperatures of patents before they enter the Long Bach MemorialCare Medical Group Urgent Care in Long Beach,
Monday March 16, 2020. Photo by Stephen Carr

The city is expected to hold a press conference at 3 p.m. today with Mayor Robert Garcia and Emily Holman, the city communicable disease controller.

Officials have said they expect the numbers to grow as more people are being tested. The test kits were initially delayed as they were distributed to counties with higher infection rates, but last week Long Beach received 1,000 kits.

Health officials are still investigating where the infected individuals have traveled within the city and could release more information on that topic, but the details would be released in a way that protects peoples’ privacy, officials said.

Kelly Puente

Regulators ‘exploring options’ to loosen alcohol sales restrictions

7:35 AM Thursday, March 19 | As New York’s State Liquor Authority loosened restriction on liquor licenses across the state in light of the COVID-19 epidemic’s impact on the hospitality industry, California’s own Alcoholic Beverage Control is “exploring options to help licensees in this time of emergency while continuing to protect the public health, safety, and welfare,” according to John Carr, a spokesman for ABC.

Many restaurateurs struggling with mandatory closures across the country have called for expansions on liquor license laws, saying businesses rely on alcohol sales to boost revenue and profit margins. If these changes do occur in California, it remains unclear what they would look like.

On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state would be permitting restaurants to sell liquor for take-out—not just closed containers of beer and wine. The change was intended to help boost sales after a new mandate, similar to the ones enacted city- and statewide here, forced all bars to shut down and restaurants to close their dining rooms.

Brian Addison

LBUSD to offer kids access to Chromebooks, home internet

8:44 PM Wednesday, March 18 | Long Beach Unified plans to educate its 70,000-plus students during a five-week shutdown by giving all of them access to a Chromebook laptop, as well as in-home internet access, officials said Wednesday.

Families who need a hotspot internet device will be able to request one. Deputy Superintendent Jill Baker said the devices have not yet arrived, but have been ordered.

Teachers in the district, meanwhile, will have an online staff meeting Monday with their principals to outline what the next few weeks of “home-learning” looks like.

“In the next few days there will be a series of communications about this,” Baker said at the Board of Education meeting Wednesday. “This is a whole infrastructure that came into place in the last two days. We are trying to figure out how can families and staff access things in the simplest way possible.”

Read the full story here.

Mike Guardabascio & JJ Fiddler

Police warn of hoax circulating on social media

7:10 PM Wednesday, March 18 | Long Beach police say they haven’t gotten any calls for service about a group of people in white coveralls burglarizing homes.

A post circulating on social media shows a group of people in white coveralls and claims they pretend to be testing for coronavirus, but actually are burglarizing people’s homes. The police department said they found the post to be unsubstantiated.

LBPD said they continue to monitor the situation and to report suspicious activity to them.

Valerie Osier

Long Beach’s animal shelter temporarily closes to public; adoptions will continue via phone

5:30 PM Wednesday, March 18 | Long Beach Animal Care Services starting Wednesday will start presenting and adopting pets to the public through social media, phone and by appointment in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

All outside adoption events involving the shelter have been called off or postponed.

The shelter is allowing entrance only to volunteers who provide direct animal care for feeding, cleaning and socializing. Volunteer and employees are also being told to practice social distancing from staff members and other volunteers.

“We’re doing whatever we can to limit exposure to the staff and community,” shelter manager Staycee Dains said. “Our staff needs to stay healthy so that they can continue to provide care to our animals.”

Dains said that she and her staff are looking at other creative ways to provide service by appointment—for example, if there’s a particular volunteer who’s knowledgeable of the habits and quirks of a particular animal, that volunteer can talk with the potential adopter over the phone.

forlorn-looking pit bull, tan withwhite muzzle, gazes past camera. He is sitting on some grass surrounded by cage bars.

Chunky Monkey (ID#A640988), 5 years old, has at least the heart and disposition of one, and the kindest eyes ever. He knows his commands pretty well and wants only affection from you. He’s perfect for an involuntary shut-in or a walk when the walls seem to close in. Check out his video on the shelter’s Facebook page.

While this directive is in effect, check out the adoptables on the shelter’s Facebook page, particularly the videos spotlighting some of the animals playing with and expressing their love to people. Photos and information about each animal in the shelters care can be found here.

To make an appointment to adopt or foster a pet, contact [email protected]longbeach.gov or call 562-570-4925. You can help yourself get through this period of uncertainty and isolation, and you can help the pet forever.

Kate Karp

Join Long Beach Post //Hub and connect with your neighbors

5:22 PM Wednesday, March 18 | Today, the Long Beach Post launched //Hub, a space for you to connect with your neighbors, pool resources, ask for help if you need it and offer help if you can.

As we all navigate the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the most important thing is that we support our community. Those of us with healthy immune systems can assist our neighbors with compromised immune systems. Neighborhoods can pool resources so we make sure everyone has enough to get by. Those who still have paychecks can buy groceries, pick up prescriptions, offer to walk our neighbor’s dogs or do anything else that would make it easier for folks to stay inside.

Here’s how it works: Head over to hub.lbpost.com and create a username and password by clicking “Login / Register” on the top right of this page. You’ll need to click the verify link sent to your email address before you can post.

Read the full story here.

Dennis Dean

LBCC will stay online until the end of spring semester

4:43 PM Wednesday, March 18 | Long Beach City College announced Wednesday they would continue teaching courses online until the end of the spring semester. Officials said they anticipate LBCC employees will be able to return to campus on June 8 and students on June 10, the first day of summer session.

“However, these dates may change as the COVID-19 health crisis evolves,” the college cautioned. The college also said there is a “high likelihood” the summer session will also be solely online.

The college has not made a decision about the 2020 graduation ceremony.

Only essential personnel will be onsite on either campus starting Monday. Both child development centers are closed until further notice.

The Board of Trustees meeting will be held remotely and can be viewed online.

Valerie Osier

Latest numbers: Long Beach reports 2 new coronavirus cases

12:08 PM Wednesday, March 18 | The cases of coronavirus in Long Beach continued to climb Wednesday with two new people testing positive, bringing the city’s total to 10.

That number does not include a veteran with the virus who is being treated at the Long Beach VA Hospital because that person is not a Long Beach resident, officials said. The origins of the new cases are under investigation.

In Long Beach, approximately 130 more people are currently being monitored for possible exposure to COVID-19.

Read the full story.

Kelly Puente

Grand Prix won’t be rescheduled this year

11:45 AM Wednesday, March 18 | The Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach that was set to take place next month will be completely canceled instead of being rescheduled for later in the year, organizers announced this morning.

Until today, the Grand Prix Association had said they were trying to find a new date for the 46th edition of the street race, which had been postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are very disappointed that we were unable to put something together for all our loyal fans and valued clients, but trying to reassemble all the elements that have made the Long Beach event such a success does not appear feasible for 2020,” said Jim Michaelian, president of the Grand Prix Association. “As a result, our attention will now be focused on planning the 46th Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 16-18, 2021.”

Those who have already bought tickets to the 2020 event will be given a refund or be allowed to apply their purchase to the 2021 race, organizers said.

Staff Reports

Memorial, St. Mary, VA won’t allow visitors

10:00 AM Wednesday, March 18 | The three largest hospitals in Long Beach are prohibiting outside visitors, hoping to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Long Beach Memorial Medical Center, the Long Beach VA Hospital and St. Mary Medical Center will no longer allow in-person visits.

“The decision to suspend hospital visits was difficult and made only after careful consideration,” Long Beach Memorial said in a statement.

“We encourage family members and friends to use alternative ways to interact with their loved ones, including phone calls and using their mobile phones for voice and video calling apps like Facetime and Skype.”

Staff Reports

Willard Elementary School possibly exposed to coronavirus, officials say

2:18 AM Wednesday, March 18 | Willard Elementary School families and staff were notified by the Long Beach Health Department this week that they may have been exposed to the new coronavirus before local schools were shut down.

A letter posted on the school’s website says, “You or your child may have been exposed to COVID-19 (also known as Coronavirus Disease 2019) at Willard Elementary School from March 12-13, 2020.”

March 13 was the last day Long Beach Unified schools were in session before shutting to try to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The letter, which was dated Tuesday, was sent to everyone at the school, according to health officials. They said someone at the campus tested positive for COVID-19 but declined to provide any more details about who or what part of campus they were on.

Read more here.

Valerie Osier

Hyatt Hotels announce temporary closure

2:39 PM Tuesday, March 17 | On Tuesday, hotel chain Hyatt announced the closure of its two Long Beach locations, the Hyatt Regency and the Hyatt Centric The Pike, until May 11 or pending further notice.

“Guided by our purpose of care for our guests, colleagues, customers and community, we have made the difficult decision to temporarily cease normal hotel operations,” Hyatt Area General Manager Jon Benson said in a letter to Long Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO Steve Goodling.

“We will continue to assess the situation to evaluate whether we can open up sooner based on a safe working environment and business demand or if the need to further extend the temporary suspension is necessary,” Benson added.

Travel restrictions and voluntary social distancing have the travel industry suffering and representatives of the U.S. Travel Association didn’t mince words in a meeting with White House officials on Tuesday.

“The health crisis has rightly occupied the public’s and government’s attention, but a resulting catastrophe for employers and employees is already here and going to get worse,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow said.

“Travel-related businesses employ 15.8 million Americans, and if they can’t afford to keep their lights on, they can’t afford to keep paying their employees. Without aggressive and immediate disaster relief steps, the recovery phase is going to be much longer and more difficult, and the lower rungs of the economic ladder are going to feel the worst of it,” Dow said.

A study released by the association on Tuesday estimates that “decreased travel due to coronavirus will inflict an $809 billion total hit on the U.S. economy and eliminate 4.6 million travel-related American jobs this year.”

Goodling acknowledged the pressure the industry is under and said his office is taking steps to set local businesses up for a speedy recovery.

“We have marketing and sales plans in place to help accelerate a recovery when restrictions are lifted and public sentiment changes,” Goodling said. “Until then, we’re working on future business, as we’re still getting leads from our clients and prospecting for more.”

Alena Maschke

L.A. County reports 50 new cases of coronavirus

2:18 PM Tuesday, March 17 | Saying dramatic rises in coronavirus cases should be anticipated given increases in testing, Los Angeles County’s public health director announced 50 new cases of the illness today, bringing the county’s total to 144.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer cautioned that the increase in the county’s cases—up more than 50% from Monday—should not be seen as a failure of “social distancing” measures that have been taken, such as closing bars and restaurants and cautioning against gatherings.

“If you look across the world, it generally takes three to four weeks to see the fruits of our labors,” she said.

She said most of the 50 newly identified cases are still being investigated to determine the patients’ source of exposure. Three of the new cases were reported earlier in the day by Long Beach, where a total of eight cases have now been confirmed. Of the three new Long Beach cases, two were people who had traveled to coronavirus-affected areas.

City News Service

CSULB to end in-person classes for rest of semester, postpone commencement

12:00 PM Tuesday, March 17 | Cal State Long Beach will cancel face-to-face classes for the rest of the spring semester, moving them to an online or otherwise remote format, officials announced Tuesday.

Following other universities across the country, the campus of more than 36,000 students moved to alternative forms of instruction last week with plans to resume normal operations on April 20. But officials on Tuesday said the campus has now opted to close in-person instruction for the remainder of the semester, which ends May 22.

Students who live in dorms are also being strongly encouraged to vacate by March 27, unless they are international students and cannot, spokesman Jeff Cook said. Normally 2,680 students are in on-campus housing, he said. Students who cannot vacate their dorms for any reason are being asked to communicate their situation with student housing officials. They may be asked to change rooms in order to achieve social distancing, according to Cook.

The campus will also postpone spring commencement and related cultural celebrations.

The moves are meant to promote social distancing, something that can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help avoid overburdening hospitals with serious cases of the disease, which typically has mild symptoms, according to health officials.

“We must do our best to accomplish extreme social distancing,” President Jane Close Conoley said in a note to students and staff. “We are not closing our campus, nor suspending essential operations including instruction. Rather, we must transition to meet the demands of our new reality by lowering the campus population of employees and students, invoking social distancing techniques throughout.”

Staff will be asked to continue to work remotely on most days. The campus remains open, including housing and other services.

Kelly Puente

Tenants receive eviction notices in the midst of pandemic; City Council may be able to help

11:00 AM Tuesday, March 17 | On Friday, March 13, the Trump administration declared a national emergency in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

That same day, tenants at two buildings managed by the same property company received eviction notices telling them to vacate within 60 days, at a time when government and health officials have been directing households to shelter in place.

WestStar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

One resident, who received a notice to vacate along with two other units at their Ocean Boulevard building in Alamitos Beach, said tenants were traumatized.

This isn’t the first time these tenants have received notices, either.

In February, they received a notice just before the City Council voted on an emergency ordinance that mandated all evictions citing substantial remodeling to be void until property owners obtained building permits and provided information on the scope of work.

Read the full story here.

Stephanie Rivera

UPDATE: Long Beach reports eighth case of coronavirus

9:50 AM Tuesday, March 17 | Long Beach has reported its eighth cases of the new coronavirus disease, and the numbers in Los Angeles County have grown to almost 100.

The three new cases were Long Beach’s first since Saturday. Read more here.

Kelly Puente

Mother’s Market offers delivery, special hours for seniors

8:55 AM Tuesday, March 17 | Mother’s Market, which has a location in Signal Hill, announced that it is offering special store hours and free delivery for people most at risk for having serious complications from the coronavirus.

Starting March 18, all Mother’s Market stores will open at 6 a.m., which is an hour early, only for people in high-risk populations such as the elderly, disabled or those with compromised immune systems, the grocery chain said in a statement.

Those same groups can also get free delivery from Mother’s Market by visiting the chain’s website and using the coupon code FREE4SENIORS.

“Customers can request that deliveries be left on the doorstep to further limit exposure,” a statement said.

For more info about stores altering hours and offering resources for seniors, see a list here.

Jeremiah Dobruck

Los Angeles County court gets emergency authorization to close for three days

8:30 AM Tuesday, March 17 | The Los Angeles Superior Court system has received emergency authorization from the state’s Chief Justice to close for three days in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The nation’s largest court system will be closed to the public today through Thursday and will resume normal operations Friday for the limited purpose of hearing essential or emergency cases in criminal, civil and other areas.

All cases, including those for people in custody, will be rescheduled for Friday or continued to next week.

Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile in a statement said the courts will continue to serve the needs of the most vulnerable people in Los Angeles County.

“The Superior Court of Los Angeles County is committed to providing equal access to justice through the fair, timely and efficient resolution of all cases,” he said. “However, it is imperative that we continue aligning our Court with the most recent directives and guidelines issued by our national, state and local public health officials.”

The order allows the court to postpone criminal arraignments, preliminary hearings and trials.

Over the next few days, the court is expected to release further details about the extent to which the court system is reducing and scaling back operations.

Los Angeles County, Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, Long Beach Superior courthouse in Long Beach Wednesday, July 17, 2019. Photo by Thomas R. Cordova.

Kelly Puente

Closed classrooms, open kitchens; here’s how schools look during COVID-19 shutdowns

7:00 AM Tuesday, March 17 | Its campuses are empty, but the Long Beach Unified School District is trying to make sure students’ bellies are still full.

After LBUSD schools shut down to slow the spread of COVID-19, Monday was the first day every campus had their doors open from 8 to 9 a.m. to serve a free breakfast to anyone aged 1-18, and again from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch.

The morning hour was quiet at most schools, with a steadier trickle of students in the lunch hour. Because every school was open, there were no reports of large lines or crowds at any location, allowing those serving and receiving food to practice social distancing.

Read the full story here.

Mike Guardabascio

Charter offers free access to Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi for 60 days

6:00 PM Monday, March 16 | Charter announced that beginning today it will be offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“As the country works collaboratively to contain this pandemic, broadband internet access will be increasingly essential to ensuring that people across the country are able to learn and work remotely, that businesses can continue to serve customers, and that Americans stay connected and engaged with family and friends,” officials said in a statement.

The broadband and Wi-Fi access will be offered to households who don’t already have a subscription at any service level up to 100 Mbps.

Charter will also open its Wi-Fi hotspots across its footprint for public use.

The company will also partner with school districts to ensure local communities are aware of the available tools to help students learn remotely.

For eligible low-income households without school-aged children, Charter will continue to offer Spectrum Internet Assist, it’s low-cost broadband program delivering 30 Mbps speeds.

“Charter will continue to closely monitor this dynamic situation, and is well-prepared to continue delivering reliable connectivity,” officials stated. “Charter has extensive business and workforce continuity plans in place that will be adjusted as needed to best serve all our customers and employees.”

To enroll call 844-488-8395. Installation fees will be waived for new student households.

Stephanie Rivera

Mayor moves to close restaurants

4:41 PM Monday, March 16 | Long Beach is moving toward shutting down dine-in service at all restaurants, as well as closing movie theaters, gyms and other places where large crowds gather, the mayor said at wide-ranging press conference Monday that covered many aspects of the city’s response to the new coronavirus.

The city is also pausing parking tickets and street sweeping ticketing for one week: “We don’t want folks to wake up and be faced with misinformation as it relates to not moving their cars,” Mayor Robert Garcia said.

However, he emphasized street sweeping is “an important function as it relates to public health,” he said. “It is important that we have the ability to move debris.”

Read the full story here.

Stephanie Rivera

Sheriff’s Department cutting jail population due to coronavirus

2:30 PM Monday, March 16 | Responding to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the sheriff’s department has taken steps to reduce the inmate population at jail facilities, essentially releasing people with less than 30 days left on their sentences, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said today.

“We’re protecting that population from potential exposure,” he said. “This is about being prepared, not scared.”

Since Feb. 28, inmate levels have dropped from 17,076 in custody to 16,459—a reduction of more than 600. Villanueva said many of those people were freed because they had less than 30 days left on their sentence. He also said deputies have been instructed to cite and release people instead of booking them into jail in select circumstances. Long Beach has also taken similar steps, avoiding jailing people for some low-level misdemeanors.

He stressed that no one in the jails has tested positive for coronavirus, although 35 inmates are under quarantine at various jail facilities—nine at the Correctional Treatment Center, 21 at the Men’s Central Jail and five at the Twin Towers Correctional Facility.

The sheriff’s department is also asking cities that contract its services to hold on to arrestees for up to 48 hours—right up until the point of arraignment—and to coordinate to find a suitable alternative if a suspect is exhibiting symptoms, Villanueva said.

People who are brought to the county jail are being heat-scanned.

Villanueva said he has directed deputies to cite and release “everyone they can,” adding anyone showing viral symptoms must receive medical clearance before they can be booked into a correctional facility.

“They’re doing their best,” he said, adding the average number of arrests have dropped from 300 to just 60 per day. “They’re doing a good job of triaging who needs to be arrested and not.”

A Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy walks into the Lakewood station on August 10, 2018. Photo by Thomas R Cordova.

The sheriff’s department has canceled vacations for staffers through April, issued new safety equipment and unfroze some funds in order to make more sanitation items available.

Non-essential employees are being tasked with custody and patrol duties, as the county’s deputies step up patrols around shopping centers and distribution hubs—in a response to the concern about food shortages among the general population that has emptied grocery aisles across the Southland.

Despite the sweeping action, the department has a very small number of employees in self-quarantine and no large increase in sick calls.

Villanueva also pledged that station lobbies wouldn’t be closing any time soon.

City News Service

Bar shutdowns, dine-in restaurant closures spread to rest of LA County

1:00 PM Monday, March 16 | Following the lead of the city of Los Angeles, Los Angeles County health officials today ordered the closure of bars and gyms, while also restricting restaurants to take-out or delivery service.

Long Beach, which has its own health department, has told bars to close, but it has not ordered restaurant closures. However, the city has scheduled a news conference for 3 p.m. today.

Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health urged residents to avoid “all nonessential activities.”

All Los Angeles County residents socially distancing themselves is the best tool to slow the spread of COVID-19 to avoid overburdening the healthcare system, Ferrer said.

She made the comments at a news conference where health officials announced 25 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the overall total in Los Angeles County to 94.

City News Service

L.A. County judges told they can pause trials to avoid COVID-19 spread

10:20 AM Monday, March 16 | The Superior Court of Los Angeles County said it will begin scaling down operations today and begin establishing social distancing in all of its 38 courthouses, including in Long Beach, to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.

Additional public protection measures will be evaluated and announced today or Tuesday, according to a statement from the court.

“As the largest trial court in the nation, the Superior Court of Los Angeles County is methodically scaling back non-essential court operations as part of a phased approach,” Presiding Judge Kevin C. Brazile said. “We will continue to provide services for the most vulnerable in our communities and remain open to handle criminal matters subject to statutory deadlines.”

Over the weekend, Brazile notified the judges of the Los Angeles County bench that:

  • No new jurors will be summoned for any civil or criminal jury trials for the next 30 days.
  • The trial judge for any jury trial in session may exercise his or her discretion to either continue the trial or declare a mistrial.
  • The trial judge for any non-jury trial in session may exercise his or her discretion to either continue the trial or declare a mistrial.
  • Self-help centers will be closed today, except for telephone assistance with restraining order preparation by calling 213-830-0845.

Judges were urged to consider ways to achieve social distancing in their courtrooms by offering telephonic appearances and other strategies to reduce courtroom traffic, the court statement said.

It said signage will be posted beginning today on courthouse entry points and on courtroom doors advising the public about restrictions on entering courthouses or courtrooms.

The court also said it will continue to communicate updates on its Twitter page.

It added that the court has expanded its custodial cleaning program and has made sanitizing products available throughout courthouses in response to CDC and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommendations.

The Superior Court of Los Angeles County has 550 judicial officers and more than 4,600 permanent employees serving a population of more than 10 million people. The largest trial court in the nation, the Court has 38 courthouses in 12 judicial districts throughout the county’s 4,752 square miles.

The Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown Long Beach. File photo.

The Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse in Downtown Long Beach. File photo.

City News Service

Long Beach to close bars, wineries

7:44 PM Sunday, March 15 | Long Beach will close bars, wineries and other drinking and entertainment establishments in accordance with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directives hours earlier on Sunday in response to the spread of coronavirus.

The city will also limit the number of patrons that can be present in restaurants to half of the building occupancy in order to maximize social distancing.

“Governor Newsom and state officials have been clear, we need to close bars and limit access to restaurants,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a statement this evening. “Restaurants will continue to play a key role in food distribution, especially as we focus on to-go and pick-up order options. This is a health crisis and we need to take serious measures.”

Read the full story here.

Staff Reports

City releases plan to protect the homeless from coronavirus

5:25 PM Sunday, March 15 | Hours after the governor announced extraordinary measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 statewide, including procuring motels and hotels to house the homeless, the city released its own measures to protect its most vulnerable.

While some city facilities will temporarily close, its winter shelter, Multi-Service Center and safe parking program will remain open.

The city’s homeless services personnel will also begin distributing sanitation kits to the homeless.

City officials said they are also working to identify “isolation rooms” to house homeless individuals exhibiting symptoms. Should the need arise, the city would also pay for the cost of quarantine.

The city will also:

  • Install soap dispensers, handwashing stations or hand sanitizer stations at strategic places citywide, including public restrooms.
  • Sent outreach teams to provide direct, in-person services and educate the community about COVID-19, including the symptoms and what to do if they begin experiencing them.
  • At the winter shelter and Multi-Service Center, disinfect frequently touched objects and provide masks to coughing clients as well as install hand sanitizer and hand-washing stations and post educational signage in multiple languages. Shower services will continue with social distancing protocols in place.
  • Institute precautions for employees providing in-person services to the homeless, including observing social distancing, wearing masks and increasing sanitation procedures before and after each interaction.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has compounded what was already a dire situation for persons experiencing homelessness,” said Deputy City Manager Teresa Chandler. “Although we are not aware of any COVID-19 cases among persons experiencing homelessness, we stand ready to respond if such a case presents itself to any of our facilities or if we become aware of that situation in an encampment.”

Stephanie Rivera

Governor calls for closure of bars, wineries; home isolation of those over 65

2:55 PM Sunday, March 15 | California Gov. Gavin Newsom Sunday called for extraordinary measures to combat the coronavirus, including the home isolation of everyone over 65 and the closure of bars, nightclubs, wineries and brew pubs.

“We consider this a non-essential function,” the governor said of drinking establishments. “I have all the confidence in the world this guidance … will take shape.”

The state also will reduce current occupancy in restaurants by half to keep people farther away from each other, Newsom said at a news conference. It comes as the Illinois governor shut down all bars and restaurants and officials elsewhere said they were considering similar restrictions.

Read the full story here.

-Associated Press

The Associated Press

Councilman to isolate himself after Coastal Commission colleague tests positive for COVID-19

1:40 PM Sunday, March 15 | Seventh District Councilman Roberto Uranga announced today that he and his wife will isolate themselves for two weeks after his colleague on the California Coastal Commission revealed he tested positive for COVID-19.

In a post to his social media channels Saturday night, Chula Vista Councilman Steve Padilla, who is president of the Coastal Commission, revealed that he tested positive for the coronavirus.

Uranga attended the commission hearings last Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in Santa Cruz where Padilla was also present.

“While I did not have any close contact with Mr. Padilla, I communicated with our Department of Health staff, and although I have no symptoms, the recommendation is for me and my wife to self-isolate and ‘home stay’ for two weeks” Uranga said in an email to constituents.

Uranga said his council office staff will also follow social distancing procedures and will be available to assist via phone and email at 562-570-7777 and [email protected].

Stephanie Rivera

Still only 5 positive tests, but Long Beach now monitoring 100 people for possible coronavirus exposure

12:30 PM Sunday, March 15 | Long Beach health officials said they’re now monitoring about 100 people for possible exposure to the new coronavirus, but they haven’t confirmed any new cases since Saturday when they reported the city’s fifth case of COVID-19.

Saturday’s new case was the first of “community spread” in the city, meaning officials don’t know where the patient was likely exposed to the virus.

Authorities say they’re continually investigating recent contacts of anyone who’s tested positive, and they’re getting in touch with anyone who may have been exposed.

Officials say they’ve ramped up screening after receiving test kits and private labs are now running tests as ordered by healthcare providers, but it’s unclear exactly how many people have been tested because only positive results must be reported to the Long Beach Health Department, according to authorities.

Tests, however, are not widely available to everyone yet. If you think you may have been exposed to the coronavirus, health officials want you to call—not visit—your healthcare provider. You can also call the city’s information line at 562-570-INFO (4636).

Across all of Los Angeles County, there are 69 confirmed coronavirus cases. That includes 15 new cases the LA County Department of Public Health announced Sunday.

Health officials say they expect to see more cases, but they’re urging everyone remain calm and keep taking everyday steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system.

“The city urges people to practice social distancing, including avoiding crowds of people and keeping at least six feet of distance from others,” Long Beach officials said in a statement. “Residents of Long Beach should continue to practice preventive measures such as frequent hand washing, disinfecting high-touch surfaces regularly, staying home when sick, not touching one’s face with unwashed hands and covering one’s coughs and sneezes.”

Jeremiah Dobruck

Long Beach to close public buildings, waive fees, modify meetings

7:48 PM Saturday, March 14 | Long Beach is suspending penalties for late fees and citations, closing public buildings and making other modifications to meeting schedules and activities in hopes of stemming the spread of the coronavirus, officials announced Saturday.

See a list of all the changes here.

Melissa Evans

More info on how kids can get meals on Monday

5:38 PM Saturday, March 14 | The mayor released more detailed information Saturday about how kids can get free meals starting Monday, when Long Beach Unified schools will begin a five-week closure.

For the first week of the closure, meals will be offered free at breakfast and lunch to children age 1-18 at all LBUSD locations, except the California Academy for Math and Science. After the first week, the district will evaluate its meal services and revise as necessary.

Breakfast will be served from 8 to 9 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Children must be present to receive a meal. No paperwork will be required. The meals will be available to all children no matter what school the child attends.

Staff Reports

Boys & Girls Club to offer childcare for members, emergency workers

5:09 PM Saturday, March 14 | The Boys & Girls Club of Long Beach is offering childcare for members and emergency workers starting Monday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.— the same day that schools in Long Beach Unified will close for five weeks.

Locations include the Eastman Club (700 E. Del Amo Blvd.), the Petrolane Club (1920 Lemon Ave.) and the Westside Club (1835 W. Willard). for information, call 626-705-9770.