‘We’re ready … we’re just waiting for the tests’

Long Beach faces 21 COVID-19 cases, reports first death.

On+Monday%2C+March+23%2C+Mayor+Robert+Garcia+confirmed+the+first+Corona+related+death+in+Long+Beach.+

On Monday, March 23, Mayor Robert Garcia confirmed the first Corona related death in Long Beach.

On Monday, March 23, Long Beach Mayor, Robert Garcia, in the daily live stream, announced the first death in the city from the coronavirus– COVID-19.

The mayor stated that the victim was a woman in her fifties with prior health issues, but could not say more to ensure the family’s privacy and for legal reasons. 

As of now, the City has confirmed a total of 21 cases of COVID-19, but this is the first death in Long Beach. Garcia also stated that four of the individuals are being hospitalized and that five of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 have been cleared. 

Garcia also stressed the importance of social distancing and the order by Governor Gavin Newsom to stay home. 

“If you do not need to leave your home, please stay home,” Garcia said. “I can’t express how important it is, from a community health perspective, that we flatten that curve and keep as many people home as possible.”

Garcia also reminded residents to wash their hands consistently, cover their mouths when coughing or sneezing, and call their local physician if they feel sick. 

According to Dr. Anissa Davis, the Long Beach City Health Officer, the best thing for residents to do if they are experiencing any mild symptoms is to self-quarantine and recover at home to lessen the burden on the healthcare system. 

“A good rule of thumb is to think about your current symptoms and think one year back,” Davis said.

 “So, if a year ago you would have had these same symptoms, and at that time, you would have just stayed home and not sought medical care, that’s what we’re asking you to do right now.”

In this situation, Davis stated that residents should stay home for seven days and wait until they have gone three days without a fever and cold medicine. 

Mayor Garcia stated that the City is waiting for news from the federal government about the arrival of more COVID-19 tests. Garcia also stressed that the City is already prepared for mass testing once the tests arrive. 

“We’re ready,” Garcia said. We have the locations, we have the […] tents, we have what we need. We’re just waiting for the tests.”

To help enforce social distancing, the City has closed many public areas, such as basketball courts, golf courses, dog parks, playgrounds, as well as banning any type of outdoor group exercise activities at parks or beaches.  

“As we move forward, and as guidelines get more and more strict, our police and public safety officials are doing everything they can to ensure that people are complying. [However], we need to get people to self-regulate themselves as much as possible,” Garcia said. 

He also stated that self-regulation applies to family events, parties and social gatherings among friends.

Garcia also confirmed that the Long Beach Unified School District has announced that it will be closed until May 4 at the minimum. Cal State University Long Beach and Long Beach City College have already moved to hold classes online. 

The mayor also reassured residents, many who are unable to work due to the stay-at-home order, that their utilities will not be shut off during this period due to the inability to pay bills. 

“We’re not going to turn your water off, we’re not going to turn your gas off. Your utilities, even if they’re from a private provider, will not be turned off,” Garcia said. 

About rent, Garcia told residents that they will not be evicted due to a law passed by the Long Beach City Council. 

The City is also allowing providing staff to help residents sign up for unemployment benefits seven days a week. 

The mayor also announced a new program launch last week that will allow residents living in areas with impacted parking to use parking lots for free. Anyone can sign up for the program by sending an email to [email protected] and fill out the application. 

The City has also extended the moratorium on parking tickets due to street sweeping until Monday, March 30.

However, residents parking in handicap spots, in front of hydrants or other restricted zones are still able to be ticketed. 

After the extension is over the City will street sweeping and normal ticketing practices will resume. Garcia stressed that street sweeping is essential to public health and to prevent the trash from causing flooding.  

For more information on the City’s response to COVID-19 and to stay updated click here.