With the holidays upon us and families and friends considering the possibility of gathering, I thought it was important to provide you with really critical information about the effect COVID-19 is having on our local community and the region.
Yesterday Los Angeles County saw another 3,642 cases. Long Beach saw 296 cases, a huge jump for us locally (some of which are from the weekend), but a large increase nonetheless. The City also broke our testing record again, with 2,866 tested Monday. Just a few weeks ago we were testing between 1,200 and 1,600 per day. We have added more testing capacity to keep up with demand. Despite the huge increase in testing, results remain available within 24-48 hours and next day appointments for tests continue to be available.
We will operate our testing sites normally today (Wednesday), before closing one day for Thanksgiving. Given the demand, we have set up a special testing site at the Health Department on Friday since our normal sites are closed, and the Jordan Plus site in North Long Beach will also run Friday. Our normal testing schedule resumes on Saturday.
We have received questions regarding the City and County’s Health Orders to close restaurants for any service other than take out, pick up or delivery, including how Pasadena decided to allow its restaurants to remain open for in-person dining, in spite of the County Health Order. The facts related to this determination made by our Health Department and Health Officer are summarized in the data below:
- The City of Long Beach numbers are much higher than Pasadena and are substantially similar to Los Angeles County. Pasadena’s 5-day case rate is 21/100,000 population and Long Beach’s case rate is 34/100,000. The County is approximately 40/100,000. Pasadena is tracking their numbers closely and if they continue to see increases, we expect them to take additional action as well. For context, Long Beach’s case rate prior to this large spike was around 7/100,000.
- We’ve seen an over 120% increase in cases in just a couple weeks. The curve is steep, much steeper than what we saw this summer. We need to slow and then bend the curve.
- Our hospitalizations have increased significantly. Local area COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased from 25 to 96 in 3 weeks, which is a 284% increase. This is one of the major metrics we track, including Long Beach residents in the hospital and total bed occupancy, both of which are also up. We are in contact with our local hospital leadership and they are expressing concern about what they are seeing and support these next steps. Attached is a graph for you to see this visually over the past two months – blue is Long Beach Residents hospitalized, while orange is COVID-19 patients in our local area hospitals (residents and non-residents). This dramatic increase in hospitalizations locally is a big part of why additional restrictions are needed.
- Our focus on restaurants stems from the fact that it is the only business or activity that has been allowed where masks can be removed, people from different households sit closer than 6 feet (often closer than a foot) from each other without masks while talking, and they are together sometimes for hours at a time. Restaurant staff are also exposed in these spaces.
Yesterday, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted to ratify the County Health Order issued earlier this week, on a 3-2 vote. Given the Board’s previous determination for triggers for stricter regulations as case rates, and other COVID-19 metrics, rise to levels that the County is now approaching, we are paying close attention to the COVID-19 reports that come out next week. If the numbers continue on the current upward trend, there is the potential for further restrictions or potential closures.
Finally, yesterday the City announced that we provided even more time for businesses to pay business license taxes and associated fees. That new date is March 31, 2021. We also announced another new grant program to assist restaurants in particular who cannot afford to pay fees. We know how devastating the in-person dining closure is to them and their employees, and the decision to restrict in-person dining was not made lightly. It was made by our Health Department with science and data, and with the best interest of the entire community in mind.
We urge you to take COVID-19 seriously. Stay home as much as you can, do not gather, help us change this alarming sudden increase. As tough as it is, please consider staying just with your immediate household this Thanksgiving, and get delivery or pick-up often from a local restaurant over the next three weeks if you can, to help out. Wearing face coverings and physically distancing whenever you are out can help turn the tide.
This is an incredibly tough situation we are all in, and we need your help to both keep us safe and support our businesses. These are things we can do to help our businesses remain open or reopen sooner, get our kids back in school, and keep us all safe.
Thank you for doing your part.
The article and graphic above were released on November 25 by the City of Long Beach.