As the city prepares to enter phase-two of the economic reopening plan, the Long Beach City Council reviewed a lengthy report detailing the city’s current status of coronavirus.
Along with current case statistics and an update on the city’s finances, city councilmembers are hopeful for accelerating the city’s reopening.
Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom released the state’s four-stage process for reopening.
The first stage, “Safety and Preparedness,” represents the current state of Long Beach’s COVID-19 response. The next phase, “Lower Risk Workplaces,” will ease into effect this Friday.
Information obtained from Newsom’s “Resilience Roadmap.”
However, if cities can meet a set of criteria set forth by the state, they can submit a report to reopen sooner.
The list was initially intended to allow rural areas with low case numbers to reopen, Director of Health and Human Services Kelly Colopy said. As citizens criticize the state’s slow movement towards reopening, the list acts as a fast pass.
A city can cut the line and move to the front, reopening faster, as long as it can prove to the state that it has met the requirements.
So far, of eight key indicator areas, Long Beach has met the following five requirements:
- No more than one new case per 1,000 people in 14 days
- Capacity to give 1.5 tests per 1,000 citizens
- Sheltering capacity for 15% of people experiencing homelessness
- Safe locations for quarantine and isolation
- Physical and workforce capacity to handle a 35% surge in cases
Long Beach must meet the following requirements in order to streamline the city’s reopening:
- No more than one coronavirus death in 14 days
- Staff to track a patient’s recent contacts at a capacity of two to three times the number of new cases
- Ability to quarantine and isolate citizens within 24 hours of the test result
Information obtained from the city of Long Beach.
According to Colopy, the city is currently working on its capacity of contact tracing staff members. When a patient tests positive, these staff members track down all the people they’ve recently had contact with. The city is looking at existing city staff to fill these positions.
One resident died due to coronavirus last night, but he is the first in two days. If there are no new cases in the next 11 days, the criterion will be met.
Although case numbers may increase in the future, existing data shows that case numbers are flattening.
“If you look at the hospitalization rate in Long Beach, if you particularly look at the last two weeks, last 20 days or so, you have ups and downs but it’s really generally a flattening of hospitalizations,” Mayor Robert Garcia said. “We hope that trend continues.”
On the topic of reopening, councilmembers seemed most eager to reinstate outdoor recreation activities, by reopening things like bike paths and tennis courts.
“From a mental health perspective, our residents really really are anxious to have some recreational opportunities opened back up,” Councilmember Suzie Price said. “With specific social distancing measures in place.”
The citywide survey ReopenLB and Restart Long Beach, an informal advisory group led by former mayor Bob Foster, both reflect a desire to reopen outdoor recreation facilities during the first phase.
Councilmember Roberto Uranga, however, was hesitant to support reopening without knowing the full extent of the virus’s presence in the city.
“It’s all determined on testing. There’s not enough of it going on right now,” Uranga said. “Until we get a vaccine, that will make it possible for people to go to large settings like ball games, parks and other big events, I think that we’re basically looking at a time bomb.”
Councilmembers will continue to receive updates about the city’s progress towards reopening.
“I’m glad we’re at the place where we can have a full conversation about reopening the economy,” Councilmember Rex Richardson said. “We want our schools back open, we want our economy back in operation and we understand the importance of public health.”
The next city council meeting will take place via teleconference on Tuesday, May 12.