Mayor Robert Garcia was joined by California State Senator Lena Gonzalez and California Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell on the latest live-stream update on COVID-19. The three discussed the newest cases, the City’s response and how the State of California is providing help to residents.
On Wednesday, April 8, Mayor Garcia started by updating the number of coronavirus cases in the City of Long Beach, stating the total has reached 285– along with seven deaths from the disease.
In the live-stream, Garcia stated that the increase is not surprising, and the City is preparing for more positive cases in the coming weeks. Experts have said that the next few weeks could see a surge in the number of coronavirus cases across the nation.
“That is the expectation in the days and weeks ahead,” Garcia told the audience. “As we start getting closer and closer to those critical weeks, we will have a huge impact on our hospitals, and so we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to stay home.”
The mayor also confirmed that out of the 285 cases, 47 of the positive cases were from six nursing facilities across Long Beach– with four of the deaths being related to those bursing homes.
Garcia also shared that out of the total number; the City estimates that about 140 patients have recovered from COVID-19.
“We’re thankful to them for pulling through, and thank their families and […] friends for taking care of them, [and] our doctors and medical staff,” Garcia said. “We hope that that number continues to increase every single day as well.”
The mayor also updated viewers on the rapid-response clinic that is currently operating at the Long Beach City College Campus off of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Over the last two days, the clinic has seen an average of 50 patients. On Tuesday, the clinic opened a drive-through center for COVID-19 testing.
As the City begins to increase testing, it expects the drive-through testing locations to test about 100 people a day.
“I’ll also add that it’s for all our community, whether you have insurance, whether you’re undocumented, whether you are struggling at home, and not sure how to pay for medical bills, this clinic is open to all,” Garcia said.
On the subject of testing, Garcia added that residents must first schedule an appointment before showing up at the testing site. He warned viewers that if they show up without one, they will be turned away and that walk-ups cannot take spots from people with scheduled times.
To schedule an appointment, folks may visit the Los Angeles County website to see if they qualify or if their health provider recommends a test.
Residents can take fill out the form at longbeach.gov/covid19.
The City has also developed a new graphic that details the number of available hospital and shelter beds across Long Beach. Garcia stated that the new dashboard will help the City keep track of capacity in Long Beach and that he will have more information about the dashboard later in the week.
When asked about the reopening of the newly refurbished Community Hospital, Garcia stated that the hospital is waiting for a state license and is hoping the permit is issued in the next few days.
Garcia announced that new health orders would come in the following days regarding face masks and essential workers. Officials have already asked residents to wear face masks, but the new rules will expand protections for workers in grocery stores and restaurants.
Additionally, the guidelines will set stricter standards about social distancing due to people still overcrowding in restaurants and grocery stores.
The mayor stated that these would protect essential workers and align more closely with health orders issued by Los Angeles County.
During the live-stream, Assemblymember O’Donnell announced that 200 million masks had been procured by the State of California.
The mask will be brought back to California and will be sent out to other states as needed, along with any additional help the State can provide.
O’Donnell described this as another way California is leading the way.
“California is well-positioned to help other states in many ways as well, so we’ll see what comes from that in the future,” he said.
He also added that Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order over the weekend, providing childcare to essential workers. More information on the executive order will be announced in the future.
Despite the announcement that the Long Beach and Los Angeles school districts have announced they will not be in session for the rest of the year, O’Donnell stated that summer had not started early.
The Long Beach Unified School District will be moving to “distance learning” the week after Spring Break, and students will still be responsible for any work assigned during that period.
Schools will also continue to provide free lunch to students onsite.
To aid this process, the State has issued $1.2 million in funds for protective gear, cleaning supplies and distance learning.
O’Donnell explained that the reason that the school is not starting summer break earlier is due to the fiscal year, which ends July 1. Additionally, this will allow high school seniors to graduate on time for college.
He added that the UC’s and CSU’s would be accepting pass, fail, credit or no credit in place of grades. Colleges will not rescind admission offers due to the inability to produce transcripts by deadlines.
Juniors are also not required to complete the SATs or ACTs, and AP tests will be available online.
State Senator Gonzalez stated that the state is currently working to meet the need for unemployment across California.
She stated that California had seen more filings in unemployment over the past few weeks than the entirety of 2019.
“I think this is the number one issue we are seeing in California, as it pertains to state requests for our offices. We’ve seen over 2 million Californians that have applied for unemployment insurance,” Gonzalez said.
The state has increased the number of locations, upgraded technology, added employees and increased the working hours of the office, to accommodate the increase in applicants.
The additional unemployment checks are expected to be out within three weeks, but Gonzalez stated that the State is working on cutting the wait down to two weeks or one and a half weeks.