‘We are all being affected’

Mayor Robert Garcia announced the first case of coronavirus among the homeless population in Long Beach during a COVID-19 live-stream Wednesday, April 15. Officials also shared the newest number of positive cases of coronavirus and the current death toll.

New Cases
Garcia announced that the current number of positive cases of coronavirus in Long Beach is now at 379. Additionally, the number of deaths has risen to 18.

In his comments, the mayor thanked the medical staff who have helped the City keep track of these numbers and talked about the impact of the coronavirus across Long Beach.

“I think all of us are beginning to interact and know more people that either have tested positive, or unfortunately, passed away,” Garcia said. “We are all being affected and know people that are being [effected] through this health crisis and pandemic.”

The mayor also announced that on April 15, the City had seen its first positive case of coronavirus among the homeless population.

The mayor stated that the person is currently being hospitalized.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the City of Long Beach has tried to enact measures to provide shelter and places for individuals experiencing homelessness to stay.

The City has opened emergency shelters that provided food, social distancing and access to homeless services.

Testing
Garcia announced the City is looking to increase the number of testing sites available to the public and will be releasing more information on Friday.

The mayor also stated that when choosing the sites, the City will be ensuring that testing areas will provide greater access to African-American communities–– who have been disproportionately affected by the disease.

“You can expect that our testing strategy will […] ensure that we are providing [a higher] level of support for those communities so that they have easier access to testing as well,” Garcia said. “All of that is being worked on, but of course, we will continue to provide testing for the whole city.”

Garcia also thanked the County of Los Angeles who has helped provide support to Long Beach through its website and testing portal. Residents can visit the site to determine if they may need a test, and schedule an appointment at a drive-up testing site if required.

Additional Health Orders
As the health crisis continues, one of the most at-risk populations continues to be residents at long-term health facilities and nursing homes.

In response to this issue, the City has released a revised health order for these facilities.

“This new order outlines requirements that facilities need to have in place to keep residents and staff safe,” said Dr. Anissa Davis, the City’s public health officer.

According to Davis, the new order was developed along with the California Department of Health to help provide these sites with guidance from local, state and federal authorities and protect elderly patients.

The first new change will prohibit in-person visitations, including volunteers and non-essential workers, to cut down on the number of visitors to the facility.

Patients will still be allowed to have virtual visits, and exceptions will be made for end-of-life situations.

Employees will also be required to have their temperature taken when entering the building, and cannot enter if they have a fever or show any symptoms.

Staff will also are required to wear face masks inside the facility. Patients will also be required to wear masks when they leave their room.

The new health order will go into effect on April 15 and will continue until further notice.

Economy
Mayor Garcia also discussed talks between Governor Gavin Newsom and other mayors across California regarding opening up the economy at the end of the health crisis.

While the mayor did not give any dates, he did state that officials are discussing how to reopen businesses across California.

Garcia also stated former Long Beach Mayor Robert Foster would lead an advisory group to help determine the best way to restart the economy in Long Beach as the pandemic subsides.

However, Garcia stressed that the City’s priority would be the health of the community.

“We will not sacrifice the health of the community for jumping too soon on the economic recovery piece,” Garcia said.

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