Today, the City of Long Beach declared local health and city emergencies to strengthen the City’s preparedness and ability to respond to COVID-19, commonly known as novel coronavirus. These declarations must be ratified within seven days by the City Council.
“We are prepared and continue to plan to address any possible spread of the coronavirus,” said Mayor Robert Garcia. “We continue to take proactive measures that will protect, treat and care for our residents, especially those most vulnerable.”
“Although at this time we have no reported cases of COVID-19 in our city, we must continue to be proactive and be in solidarity with the County and neighboring counties,” said Acting City Manager Tom Modica. “I encourage the community to continue to visit www.longbeach.gov/COVID19 for the most up to date information.”
City Health Officer, Dr. Anissa Davis, declared the local health emergency which was followed by the local city emergency declared by Acting City Manager Tom Modica. These declarations are made, respectively, per the Health and Safety Code and the City’s Municipal Code. The declarations are legal documents that will mobilize City resources, accelerate emergency planning, streamline staffing, coordinate agencies across the city, allow for future reimbursement by the state and federal governments and raise awareness throughout Long Beach about how everyone can prepare in the event that COVID-19 appears in our community. Los Angeles and Orange County counties have issued similar declarations to bolster their preparedness.
There is currently an outbreak of respiratory disease caused by a novel (new) coronavirus called coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The virus was first detected in China and has now been detected across the globe, including in the United States. COVID-19 usually causes mild disease such as fever and cough, but can cause severe symptoms such as pneumonia and difficulty breathing. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person to person between people who are in close contact with one another (within six feet) or through respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes. There has been community transmission in limited circumstances throughout the West Coast of the U.S. at this time. This is a rapidly evolving situation and facts are changing quickly. Locally, there have been no cases of COVID-19 reported in Long Beach at this time, although the situation could rapidly change. The Centers for Disease Control has advised local jurisdictions to prepare for more cases in the United States.
“While there are still no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the City of Long Beach, the global crisis continues to evolve on a daily basis,” said City Health Officer Anissa Davis. “We need to be ready and continue to increase preparedness efforts throughout the city.”
Long Beach has been working diligently to prevent COVID-19, and to implement containment efforts should there be residents who test positive for the new virus. The Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) has activated its Department Operations Center, prioritizing resources and leadership to focus on the clinical, epidemiological and community response.
“This is a global outbreak that is entering a new phase, and we must be prepared,” said Long Beach Health Director Kelly Colopy. “We are, and have been, working closely with other City agencies, the private health care systems, and businesses and educational institutions to ensure that Long Beach is well informed and positioned to respond and do our best to mitigate the impact of the new virus, if it emerges in Long Beach. These declarations give us more tools to be even more prepared.”
The Health Department continues to closely monitor the situation and is in constant communication with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), local hospital emergency departments, urgent care centers and local providers to obtain and provide the most updated guidance. The Health Department is also actively monitoring returning travelers from affected areas for symptoms.
The Health Department urges individuals to disclose any recent travel to affected areas to their providers if they develop symptoms such as fever or respiratory symptoms, and providers are urged to ask patients about their travel history and report any suspected cases of COVID-19 to the Health Department immediately.
Some practical things the Long Beach community can do to stay healthy are:
- Wash your hands with soap and water often for at least 20 seconds.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home if you are sick.
If we experience a cluster of COVID-19 cases or a local outbreak, every sector of Long Beach will have a role to play in ensuring the community’s health. Today’s proclamation provides a structure to support expanded efforts.
The community can learn more about what they can be doing to remain healthy, and they can stay up to date on this rapidly evolving situation by visiting www.longbeach.gov/COVID19.
About the City of Long Beach
Home to approximately 470,000 people, the multiple award-winning and innovative City of Long Beach offers all the world-class amenities of a large metropolitan city while maintaining a strong sense of individual and diverse neighborhoods nestled together along the California coast. As a full-service charter city, Long Beach is home to the Queen Mary, Aquarium of the Pacific, several museums and theaters, a highly-rated school district, Long Beach Airport, the Port of Long Beach, as well as many award-winning City departments such as Health, Parks, Recreation and Marine, Development Services and more. The City also has a highly-respected university and city college, two historic ranchos, five hospitals, five golf courses, 171 parks, miles of beaches, marinas, bike paths, and a Bike Share program.