In the latest COVID-19 live stream, Long Beach officials discussed the latest number of cases, the new phase of opening the city and testing.
On Friday, May 29, Mayor Robert Garcia announced that the City is reporting a total of 1850 positive cases of the coronavirus in Long Beach, out of which 1266 have recovered.
Additionally, the City is now reporting that the number of deaths due to the coronavirus is now at 85.
In his comments, the mayor stated that 66 of these deaths had been connected to long-term care facilities in Long Beach.
“[These facilities] continue to be an area of huge concern for us,” Garcia said. “but it’s also important to know that every single life, whether it’s in a long-term care facility, or whether it’s through a community transmission has value and matters.”
The mayor announced that Long Beach had been approved for an expedited process for reopening businesses along with the County of Los Angeles.
Under the new reopening plan, individual retailers will now be allowed to reopen with safety precautions, such as face masks and proper social distancing.
Retailers approved for the next phase include barbershops, salons and indoor dining shops.
For barbershops and salons, the new rules state that the health order only covers haircuts, and does not allow for other grooming services– such as nails or massages.
Restaurants are also allowed to open with guidelines from the health department. Additionally, bars with dedicated kitchen areas can reopen if it meets the standards issued by the City.
In his comments, Garcia stated that he has spoken with 200-300 small business owners about reopening and that he believes that they are taking the proper steps to open safely.
“The one thing that I heard loud and clear, and you’re going to see this weekend, is that people are going to open slowly,” Garcia said. “If you think that tomorrow every restaurant in town is going to be open, and every barbershop is going to be open at full capacity– that’s not going to happen.”
The mayor also asked the public to help these locations by wearing masks and not gathering in large groups to prevent another surge of cases.
In the worst-case scenario, Garcia warned residents that not following these health tips could potentially cause a second wave of cases and force the City to roll back the phases.
“If you are a small gym that is ready to reopen, if you are a nail technician that is ready to get back to work, your ability to do so will be completely dependent on how responsible the citizens and residents of Long Beach are in the weeks ahead,” Garcia said.
In regards to testing, Garcia announced that free screening for the coronavirus would be open for all residents at Cabrillo High School starting this weekend.
Residents can schedule an appointment at the City’s webpage through the health portal.
“If you don’t have a symptom, but you’re going back to work, get a test,” Garcia said. “It’s free, whether you have insurance or not– we encourage that.”
Dr. Anissa Davis, the Public Health Official for Long Beach, also cleared up some misunderstandings regarding antibody tests.
According to Davis, some residents have been confused about testing positive for the coronavirus even though they test negative after taking the antibody test.
Davis stated the PCR test used by the City, which is taken nasally or orally, is designed to detect the DNA of the virus.
“If you test positive, that means we’re over 95% sure that you were actually infected with the virus,” Davis said. “Unfortunately, right now, we can’t say that for the antibody tests, which are a blood test.”
Davis explained that the blood test is more likely to have false negatives or false positives because the FDA allowed manufacturers to push the DNA tests to market without normal medical trials.
Usually, testing kits would go through medical trials to prove they can detect the diseases within a certain percentage, but the regulations were waived due to the health pandemic.
“We cannot use the antibody tests to diagnose anybody with COVID-19 infection or to guide your care in any way,” Davis said.
“We also can’t use it to tell you whether you’re immune to the infection or how long you could be immune to the infection. So, we’re only using the PCR tests, right now, to diagnose whether you’ve been infected.”