Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia updated residents on the increasing capacity of coronavirus testing, street sweeping citations and the local economy.
During a live-streamed press conference Wednesday, April 22, Garcia stated that up to 489 individuals have tested positive for the coronavirus and there are now 27 deaths.
“Our thoughts are always with the families […] of those we have lost,” he said.
The mayor announced that about 4,700 cases had been conducted in the last week and that 5,000 tests are expected to take place by the end of this week.
The City has tripled its testing capacity, which could also result in a large spike of COVID-19 cases since more tests are being done.
Garcia urged residents to make an appointment to take a test through the City’s website.
“If you feel like you need a test, and have symptoms, go take a test,” he said.
Also, almost 300 recoveries have been recorded. As hospitals continue to work on routine emergency calls, they also have to treat coronavirus patients, but no hospital has reach capacity and they continue to do “okay” Gacia said.
“They are doing really really well, that’s not to say it’s a difficult environment,” the mayor said. “As a community, we are managing.”
The increase in local testing comes on the heels of Governor Gavin Newsom’s announcement that testing statewide will increase dramatically, adding that more testing sites will be implemented throughout the state.
Garcia announced that waiving street sweeping tickets was extended until May 18 to lessen the burden on families staying indoors.
He added that street sweeping is still necessary for the sanitation and safety of the city, so on May 4, the entire city will be swept.
Tickets will not be handed out to individuals who don’t move their cars for the sweeping crews, but they will continue to issue citations for other parking violations, such as parking in red, blue and white zones.
The mayor said that residents can apply for a free parking permit on the City’s website to be able to park their car in a specified location to avoid citations. So far, 1,300 individuals have applied for parking permits, and there are an over 4,000 spaces ready to be used, according to Garcia.
With the weather expected to heat up in the next few days, Long Beach Public Health Officer Dr. Anissa Davis said residents needing to go outside should stay hydrated and wear light-colored clothing.
She reminded folks to continue to stay six feet away from each other, and if that cannot be done, a face mask should be worn.
Garcia talked about reopening the economy, something that he said is a topic the City is working on “furiously.”
Garcia said that through conversation owners with small business owners, creative ways to serve the public and keep following health orders can be achieved.
“We know people are out of work, we want the economy to start,” he said. “We want to do it in a safe way.”
As reported in the Signal Tribune, Long Beach officials are projecting a revenue loss of about $40 million this year due to the pandemic.
He said that science and advice from health experts will dictate when the economy will open. As to how it will open, the City has charged a new task force, led by former Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, to figure out solutions.
Foster assembled the 20 members of the task force–– the Economic Recovery Advisory Group–– which will provide input to the City on strategies for the Long Beach economy to recover when it is determined safe to do so.
“Their recommendations will assist Economic Development, the Health and Human Services Department, the Emergency Operations Center and various other city departments as they strategically transition the City back to normal operations once the pandemic allows for a change in the current health orders,” according to a City press release.
“I commend the mayor and the City for its swift and immediate response to the health crisis before us,” Foster said. “Our next big challenge is how our community comes together to reopen the economy in a way that is safe and thoughtful. It is an honor to chair this distinguished group and contribute to our city’s efforts.”