Archive | April, 2020

Long Beach Mayor Announces All Frontline Workers May Be Tested for COVID-19

30 Apr

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia by email announced Thursday, April 30, frontline workers regarding of symptoms may be tested for COVID-19.

The mayor said, “If you are working at a grocery store, are a healthcare worker, public safety officer, refuse worker, or one of the many people still showing up to work at our restaurants to help keep us fed, we want you to have access to a test.”

Asymptomatic workers, starting Friday, April 30, may be tested at Jordan Plus High School, 171 W. Bort St.; and at Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus, 1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway, according to the email.

Anyone with symptoms, according to the email, may be tested at Jordan High School, 6500 Atlantic Ave.; Cabrillo High School, 2001 Santa Fe Ave.; St. Mary’s Medical Center, 1050 Linden Ave.; starting Friday, May 1, Long Beach City College, Veterans Memorial Stadium, 5000 E. Lew Davis Street; starting Monday, May 4, Jordan Plus High School, 171 W. Bort St.; Long Beach City College, Pacific Coast Campus, 1305 E. Pacific Coast Highway.

The email pointed out that appointments are required and priority goes to those with symptoms and essential workers and that people should visit and click on the testing page to get all the information.

State Senator Holds Resource Town Hall Meeting

27 Apr

State Senator Lena Gonzalez, in response to the effects of  Coronavirus pandemic in southeast Los Angeles County, on Friday, April 24, held what she called a “Resource Town Hall,” according to an email she sent, which featured: Ana Figueroa, District Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard; Berenice Núñez Constant, who is AltaMed Health Services Corp.’s Vice President for Government Relations and Civic Engagement; Wilma Franco, Executive Director at Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative; and George Warner from Legal Aid at Work

Gonzalez, who represents the 33rd California Senatorial District, said in Los Angeles County there are more than 17,000 COVID-19 positive cases with more than 1,000 positive cases in southeast L.A. region.  She said, “(I)t is vital that we prioritize testing of more people, especially in the southeast (L.A.) and this is regardless of immigration status or the ability to pay.”  Gonzalez also announced she was appointed the chair of the new Senate Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response, which will review the state’s response on testing, lack of supplies, digital access in the schools, support for small businesses and what more can be done for the unemployed.  Another resource for the unemployed, she spoke of, is one-stop resources, OnwardCA, whose website is

The state senator reported the state began a $75 million California Disaster Relief Fund for undocumented workers plus another $50 million from private donors for a total of $125 million.  She said this fund is important because the undocumented aren’t eligible for unemployment insurance because it is federally funded. Eligible individuals will be able to get $500 and families will be able to get up to $1,000.

She also reported California has the Small Business Disaster Relief Loan Guarantee Program, in which $50 million was allocated.  Small businesses may get loans up $50,000.  More information for that program and other resources are available at   

Ana Figueroa, District Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents the 40th Congressional District, explained the congresswoman wasn’t present because she was flying home from Washington, D.C., after signing the fourth interim funding package, known as the Paycheck Protection Program and the Health Care Enhancement Act.  Figueroa said the package adds $310 billion to the PPP, it adds $75 billion for hospitals and physicians; it also adds $25 billion for a national testing plan.

Figueroa added the congresswoman’s website has up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 resources, which may be found; people may call her district office at 323-721-8790 or the Washington D.C. office at 202-225-1766 for any questions.  

When Figueroa introduced Berenice Nunez, who is AltaMed Health Services Corp.’s Vice President for Government Relations and Civic Engagement, Figueroa said, “AltaMed is the largest federally qualified health center in the nation and a large health care provider to our SELA (southeast Los Angeles) community.  Berenice is helping to lead AltaMed’s COVID-19 response effort, including increasing access to medical services and testing in Los Angeles and Orange counties.”

Constant, who has a Master in Public Health, said, “More than 50 years ago, we opened our doors as the East LA Barrio Free Clinic and since then we continue to provide quality health care to 300,000 patients in Los Angeles, including the residents of SELA and Orange County.  Since the beginning of this pandemic, we have been focused on representing and advocating on behalf of our communities… in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento to working with our local cities to ensure that health care services, including COVID-19 evaluation and testing his available to our patients and our community members.”

Constant added AltaMed’s evaluation and testing sites have been open since March 20 for their patients and community member is free to all regardless of immigration status and whether or not they’re AltaMed patients.  She said the evaluation and testing site in SELA is in South Gate, 8627 Atlantic Ave. at the AltaMedical and Dental Group.  It is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.  She added five other sites are available with services seven days each week in Los Angeles County.  She said people wishing to have their symptoms evaluated in person should call first at 888-499-9303 and people who want to evaluate themselves, AltaMed has a self-assessment tool on its website at

When Constant introduced Wilma Franco, Executive Director at Southeast Los Angeles Collaborative, she said the SELA Collaborative is “a network of organizations working together to strengthen the capacity of the region’s nonprofit sector and to increase civic engagement in southeast L.A.”

Franco addressed resources available in SELA: besides the evaluation and testing sites AltaMed has, another site in SELA is in the City of Bell at Gage Avenue and Atlantic Boulevard, in which First District Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis opened; One Family L.A., according to its website provides food, rent assistance and other basic necessities and whose website is; Communities for a Better Environment provides free legal housing clinics on Mondays from 6-8 p.m., whose phone number is 323-920-9963; Lynwood Unified School District partnering with Greater Emanuel Temple Church provides pick-up-and-go groceries with appointments, whose phone number 310-635-8837; Lynwood Unified also has a meals program at two locations;  Montebello Unified School District also provides free meals in Bell Gardens; Los Angeles Unified School District is also providing grab-in-go food at schools in SELA; the YMCA in Maywood also provides grab-and-go food; Inner City Visions provides grab-and-go food in Walnut Park, whose phone number is 323-749-7246; the cities of Bell, Cudahy, Huntington Park, Vernon, South Gate have senior wellness hotlines; Southeast Community Development Corp. is providing help for internet service and computers for students; SELA Collaborative’s website is

Franco introduced George Warner, who is a fellow with the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work.  Warner, who graduated from Stanford Law School in 2017, according to the Legal Aid at Work website, said for those who do not qualify for unemployment, they may qualify for the new federal program that is administered by the states, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  He also gave out the Legal Aid at Work website, which is  He encouraged people to call Legal Aid at Work at 415-404-9093 to make an appointment.

For more information on the CARES Act and a more thorough treatment of Warner’s discussion on unemployment, people may read my April 12 story on my blog.

The town hall may be heard below.

Audio of State Senator Lena Gonzalez’s April 24 COVID-19 Resource Telephone Town Hall

24 Apr

The audio is below. A news story to follow on the Town Hall.

Governor Newsom Announces Plan to Resume Health Care Delayed as Hospitals Prepared for COVID-19 Surge

23 Apr

California Governor Gavin Newsom, according to a press release, on Wednesday, April 22, announced plans to allow hospitals and health systems to resume delayed medical care, like heart valve replacements, angioplasty, tumor removals, key preventive services and colonoscopies, as the state’s health care delivery systems prepared for a surge of COVID-19 patients, because of progress preparing for the surge, one of six criteria the governor specified for gradually modifying the stay-at-home order.
“From the beginning, I have said California’s decisions will be guided by science, not politics, and that Californians’ health comes first,” the governor said.
“(O)ur health care delivery system has done expanding hospital capacity and reducing the rate of spread of COVID-19, hospitals and health systems can consider resuming medical care that residents have delayed during this crisis… when such care can be delivered safety and with appropriate protections for health care workers. It’s in the best interest of the overall health of our state to allow these procedures to resume when they can be done safely.”
Newsom also announced President Trump has personally committed to sending the state 100,000 testing swabs next week and 250,000 swabs the following week.
The press release also pointed out health officials outlined progress on expanding testing and contact tracing to be able to identify and isolate those with the virus, another criteria Newsom put forward.
To find more on Newsom’s six criteria, read my April 15 story, “California Governor Outlines Criteria for Reopening the Economy.” To find it, scroll down my blog.

Health officials also outlined progress toward the first indicator: expanding testing and contact tracing to be able to identify and isolate those with the virus. To that end, it was announced the state is contracting with Verily, an Alphabet company, in partnership with Community Organized Relief Effort and with support from Rockefeller Foundation and an anonymous donor, to establish six new community testing sites focused on the underserved, like farmworkers and communities of color. Additionally, the state is contracting with OptumServe, to establish an 80 community testing sites, which too will be focused on underserved communities.
“We know that communities of color are disproportionately affected by COVID-19,” said Governor Newsom.
“We must ensure that we are deploying testing equitably in an effort to reduce the higher death rates we are seeing in African American and Latino communities.”
In addition, the state is accelerating equitable COVID-19 testing by aiming to deploy 25,000 tests per day by April 30, establishing an additional 80-100 testing sites and identifying five new high-throughput testing hubs. It is establishing a contact tracing workforce by surveying counties on their capacity, developing a statewide training academy and training 10,000 public health connectors to conduct contact tracing. It is developing isolation protocols and supports by identifying regional alternate isolation sites and building private-public partnerships to support those isolated. And, it is deploying data management system and tools by publishing a symptom-check app, deploying a data management platform and establishing a data dashboard for the public.
The press release also said because “(n)ow that testing has become more widely available across the state… earlier this week (California is) to become the first state to recommend testing of some asymptomatic individuals such as health care workers, first responders and correctional workers.”

Mayor Robert Garcia Forms an Economic Recovery Advisory Group for Long Beach

23 Apr

Mayor Robert Garcia announced, by email, on Tuesday, April 21, an economic advisory group for Long Beach was formed to provide recommendations on the economic impact of COVID-19 to assist the city departments’ transition back to normal operations, “once the pandemic allows for a change in the current health orders.” 

According to the email, former Mayor Bob Foster was chosen to chair the advisory group, which he assembled and will include: himself; Blair Cohn, Economic Development Commissioner and Executive Director, Bixby Knolls Business Improvement Association; Caroline Choi, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Southern California Edison; Griselda Suarez, Executive Director, Arts Council for Long Beach; Jeremy Harris, Incoming President and CEO, Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce; Josh La Farga, Planning Commissioner, and Director of Government Affairs, Laborers’ International Union of North American Local 1309; Josh Lowenthal,        President,; Kerstin Kansteiner, Restaurant/Small Business Owner; Kraig Kojian, President and CEO, Downtown Long Beach Alliance; Lou Anne Bynum, Interim Superintendent-President, Long Beach City College; Luis Navarro, Restaurant/Small Business Owner; Mario Molina, Doctor/Healthcare Professional; Randal Hernandez, Chair, Long Beach Economic Partnership; Ryan Choura, CEO and Founder, Choura, an Experience Company; Sean Rawson, Co-Founder, President of Residential Division, Waterford Property Company; Sharleen Higa, President, Long Beach Century Club; Steve Goodling, President and CEO, Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau; Steve Neal, Harbor Commissioner and Clergy; Tommy Faavae, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 11; and Vic La Rosa, CEO, President and Co-Founder, Total Transportation Services. 

The email announced the city “will create an online forum for businesses and residents to encourage civic engagement and to provide input on what sectors of the economy are most in demand, and ideas on how businesses and operations could safely reengage(sic).”

The email pointed out, “Decisions regarding how and when to reopen the economy will align with the Governor’s ‘Stay at Home’ order… will be implemented through a Health Order from the City Health Officer…will be done in close alignment with Los Angeles County and the Governor’s order.  It also pointed out the advisory is an informal group the City Manager established.

Governor Gavin Newsom Appoints California Business, Labor, Health Care and Community Leaders for New Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery

20 Apr

Governor Gavin Newsom, according to a press release of Friday, April 17, appointed California business, labor, health care and community leaders for new task force on business and jobs recovery in the wake of COVID-19.

The governor appointed business and civic leader Tom Steyer to be the Chief Advisor to the Governor on business and jobs recovery.  Steyer, who will not be paid in his new role, and the Governor’s Chief of Staff Ann O’Leary will co-chair the task force. 

Other notables the governor appointed are former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen, Disney Executive Chairman Bob Iger, ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union) President Willie Adams, President and CEO of the California Community Foundation Antonia Hernandez, former head of the Small Business Administration Aida Álvarez and Apple CEO Tim Cook.

The task force includes Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate Minority Leader Shannon Grove, Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron; it also includes previous California Governors: Edmund G. Brown Jr., Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gray Davis and Pete Wilson.

According to the press release, Newsom said, “This pandemic has forced millions of Californians out of jobs – with the most vulnerable hit the hardest.”

“While we have made significant progress in flattening the curve and increased preparedness of our health care delivery system, the actions taken have also impacted the economy, poverty and overall health care in California. We will use a gradual, science-based and data-driven framework to guide our re-opening timing while planning our economic recovery.”

The task force will work to develop actions government and businesses can take to help Californians recover from the COVID-19 induced recession; it will meet twice a month throughout 2020, according to the press release.

Steyer said, “In the coming weeks and months, we will… develop recommendations for a recovery plan…. “(The task force’s) goal is to present Governor Newsom with tangible actions that leverage the task force’s expertise to rebuild California,” also according to the press release.

The press release said that the task force will craft ideas for short, medium and long-term solutions; it will build on work of other groups, such as the Future of Work Commission, whose co-chairs are President of the Service Employees International Union Mary Kay Henry and Senior Partner of McKinsey & Company James Manyika; Henry and Manyika will also serve on the task force; Newsom formed the business and jobs recovery task force just days after he announced a multi-state task force with Oregon and Washington to coordinate the reopening of the regional economy. The governor outlined a road map to recovery with six indicators that should be met before California’s stay-at-home orders are modified.

California has seen more than 2.8 million unemployment claims since March 12, not including the undocumented and independent contractors; the impact has been devastating to the state’s small businesses, also according to the press release.

The press release may be read here:

The complete list of the task force may be found here:

An earlier story of mine on Newsom’s road map to recovery with the six indicators for reopening the California economy, may be read, by scrolling down the my April 15 story.

Barry Saks before retiring was a SEIU Local 660 (now 721) shop steward.

Mayor Robert Garcia Announces Expanded Coronavirus Drive-Thru Testing for Long Beach

18 Apr

The mayor on Friday, April 17, announced by email that the city’s drive-thru testing for the coronavirus, as of Saturday, April 18, will more than triple to more than 500 tests daily.

The announcement pointed out besides the existing sites of Long Beach City College Pacific Coast Campus and St. Mary Medical Center, the testing sites of Jordan High School at 6500 Atlantic Ave., which has its entrance on Atlantic Avenue and of Cabrillo High School at 2001 Santa Fe Ave., which has its entrance on Santa Fe Avenue at W. Willard Street, are new; both sites will operate seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; while testing will be available at both sites by appointment only, either the same day or next day for symptomatic people, people older than 65 or have underlying chronic health conditions will have priority.

The announcement included that St. Mary Medical Center testing site at 1050 Linden Ave. expects to test about 200 people daily.  It will be open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The email also said the city is “not waiting around for more tests to arrive but … actively purchasing (its) own.”

Little Fish Theatre Announces Live Streaming on its Virtual Stage

17 Apr

After I retired but before I began studying literature and journalism, I began reading the plays of Eugene O’Neill then William Shakespeare.  I acquired a taste for live theater.  Of course, the best way to experience theater is not to read it but to see and hear it.

One of my favorite intimate theaters is in the harbor community of San Pedro in Los Angeles, the Little Fish Theatre, an intimate theater that features mostly contemporary plays and whose parent organization is Shakespeare by the Sea, which is an outdoor traveling venue during the summer months in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

For the foreseeable future, because of the coronavirus, LFT is closed.  Now, I have some good news.

I received a press release from LFT announcing, on Wednesday, April 15, “A slate of live stream readings (and) an original web series… are now on Little Fish Theatre’s Virtual Stage website.”

Courtesy of Little Fish Theatre

The press release said, “(The) original web series (was) created and directed by Kathryn Farren – A six-part comedy series starring all LFT Company (m)embers. A small troupe of actors now out of work find new ways to make art in the time of Coronavirus. Episodes 1 and 2 have been released on the LFT Virtual Stage, with subsequent episodes published regularly.”

“3 Couples / 3 Short Plays (& a Teaser!) – Written and directed by LFT Company Member Kathryn Farren and performed by real-life couples and LFT Company Members, these short plays examine life, love, and how things don’t always go as expected. An added bonus teaser of an original full-length play will also be performed. YouTube Live Sunday, April 19 at 4:00pm (sic).”

“’Days of Possibilities’ by Rich Orloff – Based on letters and interviews with students who attended Oberlin College during the 1960s, this (Zoom-adapted) play charts the journey of one college’s response to the Vietnam War. Performed on the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, this piece reminds us of the strength and courage of students during that time of crisis. Directed by LFT Company member Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, and featuring LFT Company members.  YouTube Live Monday, May 4 at 6:00pm (sic).”

The press release also announced the performance of “Home Fires Burning” by Syrie James, the USA TODAY bestselling author of thirteen critically acclaimed novels… (on) Saturday, May 23 at 4:00 p.m.; a live reading in June of a “M*A*S*H*” by its author, playwright and television writer, who has donated the television script to LFT with LFT Company members recreating the characters; and student written plays and more.

The Virtual Stage can be found at The Live Streams are accessible via RSVP Links.  To donate to support the artists at LFT, go to

California Governor Outlines Criteria for Reopening Economy

15 Apr

California Governor Gavin Newsom, on Tuesday, April 15, in a press release from his office, outlined six critical indicators to guide the state before modifying the stay-at-home order.

The indicators are: “The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed; The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19; The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges; The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand; The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.”

No precise timeline was set

In the same press release, it said until immunity is built, the state’s actions will be to achieve: “Ensure our ability to care for the sick within our hospitals; Prevent infection in people who are at high risk for severe disease; Build the capacity to protect the health and well-being of the public; and Reduce social, emotional and economic disruptions.”

In response, the office of Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia issued a statement by email characterizing the governor’s criteria as an “excellent framework.”  The email added, “Long Beach will work closely with the state and our decisions will be based on science and data.”

State Senator Lena Gonzalez Hosts Telephone Town Hall on Unemployment Benefits and the CARES Act

12 Apr

California State Sen. Lena Gonzalez hosted a Telephone Town Hall, Friday, April 10, featuring Congressman Alan Lowenthal and George Warner of Legal Aid at Work on unemployment benefits and on the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act.

Gonzalez, who represents the 33rd California Senatorial District, emceed.

Warner, who is a fellow with the Wage Protection Program at Legal Aid at Work, said people should apply by fax, mail or online for unemployment insurance even if they are unsure whether they qualify.  He encouraged people to apply online and said it would take at least 21 days from applying to get their benefits. 

Warner, who graduated from Stanford Law School in 2017, according to the Legal Aid at Work website, said for those who do not qualify for unemployment, they may qualify for the new federal program that is administered by the states, the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

He said, “If you’re still employed and you or a family member is sick or needs preventive care, including if a public authority or doctor has recommended self-isolation or quarantine, you can use paid sick leave.  Every worker in California should have access to at least three paid sick-days a year, local laws may provide more, including if you work in Los Angeles or a hotel worker in Long Beach.”

“Additionally, effective April 1, federal law took effect, if you work for a company of less than 500 employees, you’re eligible for an additional 80 hours or 10 days of paid sick leave for issues related to the coronavirus.  These paid sick days are paid by your employer but are reimbursed by the federal government…There is no cost to your employer for those additional sick days and you can use those federal-paid sick days if you can’t work, because you are sick, because a family member is sick or because you are taking care of a child who is home from school.”

Congressman Alan Lowenthal, who represents the 47th Congressional District, discussing the $2 trillion CARES Act, said, “In the bill were $300 billion for direct cash payments to individuals, which means that if you filed taxes either in 2018 or in 2019 or if you are on Social Security and we know where you live that we’ve been sending payments…Those that have direct deposits will receive their checks first.  Those that receive their checks either from the IRS or from Social Security that are mailed they will be probably sent out within the next two weeks.

“You are going to get $1200, an individual, and if you earned up to $75,000 and then it’s taxed at $99,000.  So, if you earned more $99,000, you will not receive a check… If you are a family of four (two adults, two children), each spouse will get $1200 and each child will $500 for a total of about $3400.” 

The congressman added the IRS will be setting up a web-based portal to claim payments for those who have not filed taxes and IRS does not have either direct deposit information or mailing information; he stated the IRS would not contact a possible recipient and if people did not receive their money, people must use the portal.

The congressman said about $375 billion were allocated for small businesses in grants.  One is emergency grants of $10,000 to a small business; he said these must be paid back; according to National Public Radio, these are “to cover immediate operating costs.”  A second is what’s called the “Paycheck Protection Program,” which are forgivable, if “75 percent or more is used to keep current employees on the payroll for the next eight weeks.”  He added this program’s funding is being spent fast with $100 billion gone in the first four days of the $350 billion allocated and that these are first come, first served loans.”

The state senator said, “The state legislature…about three weeks ago enacted emergency funds for $1.1 billion in fact to ensure that we tackled local government issues relative to homeless services, our seniors, ensuring our health system service was upgraded, all related to Covid-19.  She added 2 million people in California have applied for unemployment insurance.

People may telephone Legal Aid at Work at 415-404-9093 to make an appointment and may visit its at website at

People wishing to apply for unemployment insurance online, they should go to or wishing more information on pandemic unemployment assistance, they should go to

People may hear the Telephone Town Hall below.