City of Long Beach to impose more restrictions amidst rising COVID hospitalizations

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia appeared today to give updates on closures and COVID health orders. States have been seeing a surge in Coronavirus cases and LA County is no exception.

“States are seeing an enormous toll in deaths and availability for hospital beds.” Mayor Garcia stated.

If this current trajectory continues, LA County will be over 100% capacity for ICU beds before Christmas. “This is not COVID specific,” Garcia said, “This number also applies to accidents, other illnesses, health complications.” 

Garcia noted that the issue is not about beds running out, but about doctors and nurses being overwhelmed with patients. “It’s not a bed capacity issue as much as it is an issue pertaining to the quality of care that doctors and nurses can give to those who need it.” 

Currently, the hospitals in Long Beach are operating at 64% capacity. 

The city has also seen a 313% increase in daily COVID-19 cases. In the beginning of November, Long Beach was seeing a daily average of 30-40 cases each day, one month later that number spiked 190 cases. “We will not be able to sustain ourselves if this trend continues for the next 30 days,” Garcia said

The issue with COVID-19 is that once cases start rising, it is hard to turn the trend around. “To move the numbers in a different direction is extremely difficult,” Garcia said.

Garcia went on to explain the recent restrictions put in place prohibiting in-person dining and limiting capacity in retail stores. Garcia noted that this was not an easy decision to make and that it was not his or the city council’s call. “These decisions are not made by us. It is the health professionals and scientists who decide what our choices are moving forward.” 

The mayor also announced additional changes to the health orders. The City of Long Beach, moving forward will now prohibit gatherings with members outside a single household. Playgrounds will remain open with limits of two families on at a time. The mayor chose to keep playgrounds open because of the fact that some families do not have access to outside areas but made it clear that if there is no compliance to the rules, playgrounds will “close altogether.”

The City of Long Beach will follow closely with LA County restrictions and continue to consult with health officials to set new occupancy limits on restaurants and retail stores as needed. 

“We can expect additional stay at home orders and changes to regulations in the near future,” Garcia said. 

Kelly Colopy, the Director of Health and Human services in Long Beach came out to share information about potential COVID-19 vaccines and testing in the city.

On testing, she announced that since March, the city had tested over 343,000 people for Coronavirus and are currently averaging 2,800 tests each day. She advised residents who may have been exposed to COVID-19 to stay at home and wait for at least five days to get tested to ensure the most accurate test results. For those who are unable to go to a testing site, the city is utilizing a mobile testing unit where residents can get tested.

While talking about the vaccine, Colopy said that there are two possible vaccines; both with high success rates. The city hopes to have them available within the next two months. While a national plan for mass vaccination is still being rolled out, Colopy emphasized that Long Beach had been planning for months. “We have been training and planning for mass vaccination for years since the 2009 swine flu outbreak,” Colopy said. An exact plan on distributing the vaccines has not yet been released. 

For more info on COVID-19 in Long Beach, visit Long Beach.gov or call (562) 570-INFO (4636)