Archive | September, 2020

Long Beach Expands Open Streets Initiative Along Pine Avenue from 4th to 5th Street

26 Sep

Long Beach expanded its Open Streets Initiative, according to a press release of Friday, Sept. 25, to provide Covid-19 support for local businesses along Pine Avenue from 4th to 5th Street, beginning on Friday.

Photo of Pine Avenue from 4th to 5th Street, looking north; Photo by Barry Saks, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020

The closure to vehicular traffic will provide outdoor space for dining and other approved services. This Open Streets closure is in addition to the closure on Pine Avenue from 1st to 3rd Streets.

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “Open Streets, and particularly the innovative use of Pine Avenue, has been incredibly exciting to watch take hold. Businesses are thriving outdoors and it’s been a great experience for diners and our restaurants in these spaces.”

In addition to the Pine Avenue closures, more than 100 parklet locations have been installed throughout the city, providing businesses with an outdoor space to provide physically-distanced services. 

“With its concentration of businesses and restaurants, Downtown needs as much outdoor space as possible so business can thrive and residents have safe access to services,” First District Councilwoman Mary Zendajas said. 

Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce said, “It’s been exciting to see Pine Avenue come back to life with the installation of Open Streets.” “The expansion of this program is a welcomed development with the opportunity to create diverse and vibrant corridors.”

While vehicular traffic on Pine Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets will be prohibited, 4th Street and 5th Street will remain open to through traffic.

Andy Sanchez, who is 21 and works at Kress Market at 443 Pine Ave., said, “It will be interesting to see where it goes, to see if it will help business.” Sanchez, who said he’s going to a technical school to become an auto mechanic, added, “I think it shows like the shift in culture…Pine Avenue has a certain meaning that it carries with it now, it’s kind of the idea of the shops and the culture of people coming out to support the businesses and each other.”

Marked loading and delivery zones have been established throughout the area for curbside pick-up.

“As always, DLBA (Downtown Long Beach Alliance) supports building a strong consensus among stakeholders, as was accomplished with those located on Pine Avenue between 1st and 3rd Streets,” President and CEO of DLBA Kraig Kojian. “We will continue to communicate and collaborate with our partners and monitor the reactions from establishments located within this section of Pine Avenue.”

The Open Streets Initiative was approved by the City Council in June 2020 in response to State Health Orders closing indoor dining and other businesses due to Covid-19. On Sept. 15, the City Council approved the closure of Pine Avenue between 4th and 5th Streets, providing additional space for businesses along the corridor to operate.


Mayor Robert Garcia Announces Covid-19 Mobile Clinic to Serve Immigrant, Undocumented Community

22 Sep

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, by email, announced Tuesday, Sept. 22, that partnering with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, the first of its kind, serving as a model for California and the nation, a Covid-19 mobile clinic will serve the Latinx, immigrant and undocumented communities.

The mayor reminded the reader his mother died of Covid-19 and was an immigrant and health care worker. 

He said, “She knew how hard it was for the undocumented to get medical treatment.”

The email pointed out In California, 60 percent of Covid-19 cases are from the Latinx community, while it making up 40 percent of the population.

President Donald Trump Acknowledges COVID-19 Vaccine Not Available Widely Until April 2021, Provides Aid to Puerto Rico, Calls Mail-In Voting “Scam”

18 Sep

President Donald Trump, at a press conference on Friday, Sept. 18, acknowledged a Covid-19 vaccine would not be available widely in the United States until April 2021, contradicting himself from an earlier statement.

While the novel coronavirus originated in China, he continued to call the virus the “China virus,” a phrase some call racist. He also claimed falsely presidential candidate Joe Biden had antivaccine theories.

The president also announced $13 billion of aid was being sent to Puerto Rico to repair the electrical grid, although previously the president had said the island did not deserve any aid because of corruption. When asked by a reporter why the aid was not given three years ago, the president responded by blaming the Democrats. The president also later, when asked a similar question about why the aid was being provided now, added it was to return to Puerto Rico a pharmaceutical manufacturing industry. Judy Woodruff during the PBS Newshour, a few hours later pointed out Puerto Rico is important to many voters in Florida.

Through the press conference he read from a prepared statement. Near the end of press conference when he responding to reporters’ questions, he claimed mail-in voting was a scam without providing any evidence. He tried to make a distinction between solicited and unsolicited mail-in ballots, like he has done before. When he declared the press conference over, a reporter shouted to him that if he won the election would he still consider mail-in voting a scam. The president ignored the reporter.

California Governor Announces Blueprint for a Safer Economy to Have Four Risk Tiers to Evaluate COVID-19

2 Sep

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced, as part of what he called, “Blueprint for a Safer Economy,” on Friday, Aug. 28, through a City of Long Beach press release, four color-coded risk tiers, using the metrics of daily new cases per 100,000 residents and the positivity rate, defined as the number of positive test results compared to all tests administered.

Long Beach and Los Angeles are in the highest risk category.

Mayor Robert Garcia said from the start data will guide our re-opening. He added, “The statewide framework released by the Governor today makes it clear we are making progress.”

In a separate press release of the same day, the Governor said, “This Blueprint is statewide, stringent and slow. We have made notable progress over recent weeks, but the disease is still too widespread across the state. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and we all need to adapt. We need to live differently. And we need to minimize exposure for our health, for our families and for our communities.”

The highest risk category is called “widespread” with a color of purple and is defined as more than seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of more than eight percent. The second highest risk category is called “substantial” with a color of red and is defined as four to seven daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate from five to eight percent. The second lowest risk category is called “moderate” with a color of orange and is defined as one to 3.9 daily new cases per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate from two to 4.9 percent. The lowest risk category is called “minimal” with a color of yellow and is defined as less than one daily new case per 100,000 residents and a positivity rate of less than two percent.

The State is revising the calculations for case and positivity rates, which may lead to differences in past data and shouldn’t be compared with previous numbers. The revised indicators will be on the City’s COVID-19 dashboard starting on Monday, August 31. Positivity rates and case rates will be assessed and updated every Tuesday. To move down to a lower risk tier, a county needs to sustain the optimal numbers for three weeks. If a county shows data placing it in two different colors, the stricter rules will apply.

The new tiers also dictate the reopening phase. While the State outlines what is allowed under each tier starting August 31, details regarding what can be open, and protocols for operation, are at the direction of the City Health Officer. Openings of new sectors or changes to current business operations should only occur following the issuance of revised Health Orders from the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services.