As COVID-19 cases continue to surge locally and throughout the state, the City of Long Beach today announced several operational changes and potential impacts to City services. The City continues to take an aggressive approach to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community and the City workforce.
The above graph shows the number of confirmed new COVID-19 cases reported each day. With more than 1,700 cases reported in a single day, the current peak is 1.6 times higher than the 2020-2021 winter surge peak, which at its highest experienced 1,052 reported cases on a single day. Hospitalizations have also increased, however the number of those hospitalized remains well below the hospitalization rates experienced during the height of the 2020-2021 winter surge. Of those who are currently hospitalized, 72% are unvaccinated, demonstrating the effectiveness of the vaccine for reducing severe illness and hospitalizations. Up-to-date information regarding cases and vaccines is available at longbeach.gov/COVID19data.
COVID-19 Testing and Vaccine Clinics:
Due to the significant increase in demand for COVID-19 testing, the Department of Health and Human Services (Health Department) is shifting its operational focus this week and next week to prioritize testing availability. Testing at Long Beach clinics has steeply increased over the last several weeks, with 347 people tested on Dec. 14 to 6,965 on Jan. 4. The following temporary changes to testing and vaccine clinic operations will remain in effect until the demand for testing stabilizes and the demand for vaccine increases:
· Expanding testing operations at Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus (PCC) to accommodate testing more people during operating hours.
· Additional Health Department staff to support rapid testing operations at all City-run testing clinics.
· Prioritizing people with appointments. People without a testing appointment must arrive at least one hour prior to the closing of each shift at all City testing sites in order to be tested.
· Actively exploring options to implement additional testing location(s) to help meet testing demand.
To accommodate additional testing, City-run testing and vaccine clinics will temporarily adhere to the following modified schedules beginning Monday, Jan. 10:
· Testing Schedule
o Long Beach City College, Veterans Stadium: Mondays – Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 – 5 p.m.
o Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center at Houghton Park: Mondays – Fridays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2:30-5:00 p.m. and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
o Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus: Mondays – Fridays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
o Cabrillo High School: Saturdays and Sundays, 9:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2:30 – 5 p.m.
o CSULB (Long Beach State): Mondays, 1/24 and 1/31 and Wednesdays, 1/19 and 1/26 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Rapid tests not available)
· Vaccine Schedule
o Long Beach City College, PCC: Thursdays and Fridays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 4 – 7p.m. and Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
o Long Beach City College,Liberal Arts Campus (Parking Lot 1, corner of Clark Avenue & Carson Street): Thursdays, 10 a.m. – noon
o Cabrillo High School (2001 Santa Fe Ave.), Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
o Doris Topsy-Elvord Community Center at Houghton Park:Mondays – Wednesdays, 1 – 5 p.m. and Thursdays – Saturdays, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
o CSULB: 6049 E. 7th St., Mondays, Jan. 24 and Jan. 31 and Wednesdays, Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
o El Dorado Park West: Wednesdays, 2 – 6 p.m. (boosters only; begins Jan. 5)
People should get tested if any symptoms are present or if they have been in close contact with someone who has or is suspected to have the virus, regardless of vaccination status. It is important for people to make testing appointments and arrive according to their scheduled date and time. High demand has impacted wait times for appointments, but the City has ample tests available, and test results are generally available within 48 hours. Non-appointments are available at each of the five clinic locations; those without an appointment should be prepared to potentially wait for a significantly longer time due to the number of scheduled appointments.
Testing appointments can be made at longbeach.gov/covid19testing or by calling 562.570.4636. People also may contact their healthcare provider or area pharmacies to get tested, subject to availability. For other sites across Los Angeles County, people can visit https://covid19.lacounty.gov/testing/.
The City is also issuing the following updates and temporary modifications to City service operations, effective immediately:
· The 34th annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Celebration, scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 15, has been postponed. An alternative date has not yet been determined; however additional information will be provided once it becomes available.
· The 2022 Homeless Point in Time Count, originally scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 25, is being postponed to late February. More information regarding the new date as well as volunteer updates will be provided once available.
· City Hall and major facilities will continue to serve most customers virtually or by appointment only, as has been the case consistently throughout the pandemic.
· In-person programming at all Long Beach Public Library locations has been suspended temporarily. Drop-in services and access to libraries continue. Library patrons are encouraged to utilize the Library’s vast collection of digital resources, including the Library catalog, downloads, and databases, available 24/7.
· City outreach meetings will transition to a virtual format. Upcoming community budget meetings for the fiscal year 2023 City budget, originally scheduled for in-person on multiple January dates, will be postponed and rescheduled for virtual sessions. More information about the new dates will be available soon.
· Long Beach City Council and City Commission meetings will transition to a virtual format, starting with the Jan. 18 meeting. More information on the modified format will be available prior to the meeting.
· The Permit Center, located on the 2nd Floor of City Hall, will continue to admit permit applicants by appointment only. The Center’s ongoing appointment-only process is for applicants with a diversity of timely service requests such as plan submittals, plan checks and permit payments and issuances. The Center is currently assessing the impact of the surge and will be adjusting its operations as needed over the next several weeks, including re-evaluating its plans to allow limited walk-in appointments for minor project permit applicants.
· Long Beach Animal Care Services is open by appointment only Wednesdays through Sundays. To make an appointment to adopt or foster a pet, people may email PetAdopt@longbeach.gov or call 562.570.4925.
Impact on City Services
During this unprecedented surge, additional City services may also be affected. The City is experiencing high cases among City workers in the following departments: Fire, Police, Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications, Public Works, Library Services, Development Services, Energy Resources, Parks, Recreation and Marine, and the Health Department. Staffing impacts as a result of isolation or quarantine protocols may result in modified operations or potential delays in service times.
Emergency response times for Police and Fire are being actively managed daily and have not seen delays despite significant staffing challenges, fewer available daily staffing and high levels of both isolated and quarantined staff. Staffing will continue to be monitored and managed to maintain emergency response times.
However, given the number of affected City staff and the possibility of additional positive cases, delays in trash pickup, Holiday Tree Recycling pickup, street sweeping and enforcement, gas meter turn-on, homeless service response, code enforcement, building inspection, and other high-demand services are expected to see impacts over the next few weeks. Details regarding any further impacts to City operations resulting in substantial public-facing impacts will be provided once available.
While City Hall remains closed to the public, the public is encouraged to take advantage of the convenient online resources available on the City website at longbeach.gov, as well as bill payment options available on the Financial Services website.