Officials announce 18 new cases of COVID-19, bringing city total to 88

Long Beach opens up 24/7 homeless shelter at a local park, LBPD announces new operational changes in response to pandemic

The+Civic+Center+in+downtown+Long+Beach.

Photo by Lissette Mendoza | Signal Tribune

The Civic Center in downtown Long Beach.

The city of Long Beach has opened a 24/7 shelter for homeless residents at a local park, as the police department announced a series of temporary operational changes in response to the worsening pandemic, including handling non-emergency calls by phone.

Meanwhile, city officials reported 18 new cases of COVID-19 Saturday, bringing the city’s total to 88.

City officials also announced that the suspension of parking citations for street sweeping violations will be extended until May 1, and offered residents the option of applying for free alternative off-street parking at 14 city-owned sites to accommodate residents who are staying at their residences during the week as safer-at-home efforts continue.

The temporary shelter was opened at Silverado Park, 1545 West 31st St., officials said on Twitter. It is the first of several temporary shelters to be set up.

The shelter will house about 50 people in the main room with “appropriate” social distancing between cots, officials said. Another seven people can be isolated in a separate room as needed.

Officials also announced that the Long Beach Police Department will cease taking reports for nonviolent crimes in person due to the pandemic.

“Community members can expect to speak directly with an officer over the phone when reporting nonviolent crimes,” the department said in a news release Saturday. “All crime reports taken over the phone will be documented as normal and sent to the proper investigative detail for follow up. If an officer determines a face-to-face response is necessary for a report call, residence will be encouraged to meet the officer in front of the location.”

Examples of the types of calls that will be handled over the phone include lost or found property, theft of less than $5,000, misdemeanor vandalism (damage under $900) and non-injury traffic collisions not involving impairment or creating a traffic hazard.

“Response protocols for emergency calls for service where there is an immediate threat to public safety will continue,” the department said.

“Anyone in immediate danger or in an emergency situation should always call 911.”

The other changes include:
— Officers have been issued personal protective equipment and are practicing social distancing while conducting briefings;
— all training and non-essential travel is canceled or postponed;
— some public-facing business desks, including the evidence/property counter and criminal registration desk, have been modified to appointments only;
— jail visitation is limited to attorneys and clergy;
— field officers have the discretion to issue low-level misdemeanor citations to individuals exhibiting flu-like symptoms;
— arrestees displaying flu-like symptoms shall remain isolated until medically evaluated;
— all police department facilities are receiving daily cleanings, and high-contact surfaces are being cleaned multiple times per day.
Also, some officers have been reassigned to field duties, specifically monitoring key resource locations such as grocery stores and hospitals.

The LBPD reported Friday that a police officer who works in the West Patrol Division tested positive for COVID-19, and the officer’s partner was directed to begin a mandatory 14-day quarantine.

Long Beach residents with questions about the COVD-19 outbreak can go to www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.

Temporary parking permits for city-owned lots are available at http://www.longbeach.gov/parking.