Long Beach Airport Requires All Passengers, Employees, Visitors to Wear Face Covering

12 May

Long Beach Airport announced, according to a press release of Tuesday, May 12, it is requiring all passengers, employees and visitors to wear a facial covering on airport property, which is in line with the City of Long Beach’s current “Safer at Home” order and guidance from public health experts.

Courtesy of the City of the City of Long Beach

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “As the economy slowly reopens and the public begins to travel again, we want to ensure the safest possible experience for all passengers.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing a facial covering that covers the nose and mouth when in public to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Examples of appropriate facial coverings include bandanas, neck gaiters or cloth masks with ties or straps. It is important to note facial coverings are not a replacement for physical distancing and frequent hand washing.

Long Beach Airport Director Cynthia Guidry said, ““Our partners at Long Beach Airport have come together to provide a consistently safe environment, while maintaining the comfortable experience our customers have come to expect.”

“We look forward to seeing more passengers but are grateful the public is taking the health order seriously and avoiding non-essential travel. LGB is ready to welcome your return.”

All five airlines serving the airport, as well as concessions and rental car companies, now require facial coverings for customers and employees. Transportation Security Administration officers at are also required to wear masks. Officers may ask guests to adjust or remove face coverings during the security screening process.

Besides requiring facial covering, the airprot LGB has additional safety measures, such as new disinfecting protocols and floor decals to create physical distancing. 

For the latest information on COVID-19, with details on the City of Long Beach is doing to keep its residents safe, visit: longbeach.gov/COVID19 and follow @LongBeachCity on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Long Beach Reopens Beach Bike and Pedestrian Paths, Tennis Centers

11 May

Long Beach announced, Monday, May 11, according to a press release issued the day before, the reopening of the beach bike and pedestrian paths, tennis centers and courts in parks with guidance for their use.

Mayor Robert Garcia said, “We know our community has been anxious to get back outdoors. While our beaches are still closed, like many of you, I am looking forward to the beach bike and pedestrian path opening up… Please remember to practice physical distancing so that we can continue to make more places available.”

With the reopening these safety rules must be followed for beach and pedestrian paths and tennis centers.

For beach and pedestrian paths, stay at least six feet from others not members of your household; avoid crowded areas; do not gather in groups or linger except for brief rests; face coverings are required when in close contact with others but not required while engaging in physically-distanced exercise; while beach bathrooms are open, beaches and beach parking lots remain closed.
All tennis centers before reopening must implement a Tennis Physical Distancing, which may be found at: http://longbeach.gov/globalassets/health/media-library/documents/diseases-and-condition/information-on/novel-coronavirus/covid-19-business-toolkit-pages/tennis-physical-distancing-protocol.

Pro shop is allowed for curbside pickup only. Restaurants and concessions are for takeout only. Park parking lots will also reopen. Public parks are open for walking, running and biking. Social gatherings and picnicking are not allowed in the parks or park parking lots.

Meanwhile, Long Beach’s southern neighbor, Seal Beach, according to the Associated Press, reopened its beaches for running, walking and surfing, Mondays through Thursdays only, while closed on the weekends.

Long Beach Mayor Garcia Announces the City to Allow Retail Business with Modified Operations, Proper Sanitizing, Physical Distances to Reopen

8 May

Mayor Robert Garcia announced, by email, Friday May 8, the City “will allow retail businesses, with modified operations and proper sanitizing and physical distancing protocols… to reopen for curbside pickup and delivery services only.”

The announcement is consistent with Gov. Newsom’s earlier announcement regarding the State’s reopening.

The announcement said trails, their associated parking lots will reopen; golf courses, car dealership showrooms may open, pending adherence to the City’s recommendations and safety protocols. 

It said non-essential retail businesses authorized to reopen per Governor Newsom’s direction, include: bookstores, jewelry stores, toy stores, clothing stores, shoe stores, home and furnishing stores, sporting goods stores, antique stores, music stores and florists.

California Restaurants Draft Plan, Send it to the Governor

Meanwhile, the Associated Press reported Thursday, May 7, California restaurants drafted a plan to allow the industry to reopen for sit-down dining with safeguards while avoiding possible requirements imposed in other states that customers have their temperature taken or the number of tables be dramatically limited.

The recommendations, obtained by the AP, will be submitted to Gov. Gavin Newsom also on Thursday. The safeguards include: only family members or people living together would sit at the same table; buffets, salad bars and shared bread baskets won’t be allowed; salt and pepper shakers could be replaced by bottles of hand sanitizer; and meals could arrive from server And meals could arrive from food servers in face masks.

According to the AP, the California Restaurant Associated, partnering with the California Conference of Local Health Officers and the California Conference of Directors of Environmental Health.  The recommendations provide a potential framework for reopening dining rooms.

The association, according to the AP, wants Newsom to set only broad guidelines regarding: employee health, social distancing, public education and improved sanitation and disinfection, allowing cities and counties to determine the rules in each category.

The AP story said, “(T)he recommendations urge local governments to consider such things as requiring temperature checks for restaurant employees, requiring mandatory handwashing schedules for workers and face coverings for employees with interact with the public” and regarding social distancing, “local jurisdictions will need to establish … measures… for keeping tables apart or setting up barriers between them, and limiting tables to family and household members … not to exceed 10 people. Restaurants could consider a phone or text-based reservation system that would not allow a customer to enter until the table is ready.”

Governor Newsom Updates California’s Progress Toward Stage 2 Reopening

6 May

California Governor Gavin Newsom announced, Monday, May 4, based on the state’s progress toward meeting the criteria outlined in the Governor’s April 15 press release for reopening the state’s economy, the state will begin to move into Stage 2 modifying the stay at home order Friday, May 8, with guidelines released Thursday, May 7.

Governor Newsom said, “(W)e are in a position to begin moving into our next stage of modifying our stay at home order. But make no mistake – this virus isn’t gone. It’s still dangerous and poses a significant public health risk. As we move into the next stage of reopening, we will do so with updated guidance to help qualifying businesses make modifications needed to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure to customers and workers. Californians should prepare now for that second stage of reopening.”

The Governor also issued a state “Report Card” for how the state is doing in meeting key measures for moving into Stage 2. California is on schedule regarding stability of hospitalizations, personal protective equipment inventory, health care surge capacity, testing capacity, contact tracing capability and public health guidance in place.

Stage 2 will have two phases, an early and a later.  The early phase, which can begin on Friday, May 8, assuming businesses are able to implement the modifications the guidelines specify, when announced on Thursday, May 7, will be logistics, manufacturing and some retail businesses, like bookstores, clothing stores, florists and sporting goods stores.

The later Stage 2 includes dine-in restaurants, offices and school districts.

While the state will be moving from Stage 1 to Stage 2, counties can choose to continue more restrictive measures in place based on their local conditions. The state expects some counties to keep their stay at home orders in place beyond May 8.

The Governor announced while the state is moving into Stage 2 together, counties can move quicker through Stage 2, if they attest that they meet the state’s readiness criteria. Counties must create and submit a readiness plan which the state will make publicly available.

The Governor signed an executive order directing the State Public Health Officer to establish criteria to determine whether and how, in light of local conditions, local health officers may implement public health measures less restrictive than the statewide public health directives. Counties must meet criteria including demonstrating they have a low prevalence of COVID-19, they meet testing and contact tracing criteria, their health care system is prepared in case they see a sudden rise in cases and they have plans in place to protect vulnerable populations. The state will outline these criteria in the coming days.

Contact tracing enables the state to suppress the spread of the virus to avoid outbreaks and allows us to maintain our health care capacity and confidently modify the stay at home order. To work toward these goals, the Governor announced a partnership with the University of California, San Francisco and University of California, Los Angeles to immediately begin training workers for contact tracing program that will help contain the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while the state looks to modify the stay at home order. The partnership will include a virtual training academy for contact tracers. The first 20-hour training will begin Wednesday, May 6 with the goal of training 20,000 individuals in two months.

California Department of Public Health Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell provided more detail of the “Report Card.”  The data in the graph for stability of hospitalizations for the 14 days, starting April 20 and ending May 3 show the total hospitalized declined slightly and the total patients in intensive care units have remained relatively constant; the protective care inventory has now 18.2 million surgical masks, 5.8 million face shields, 7.2 million gloves and hundreds of millions of surgical and N95 masks have been ordered; surge capacity includes 14 facilities statewide ready to accept patients, 2,072 beds ready to accept patients , more than 10,000 ventilators throughout the state not in use and more than 94,000 applications have been received to join the California Health Corps.

Long Beach May Day 2020 Coalition Drives Through the Streets in Solidarity with Renters, Workers, Black Lives Matter, Immigrants

3 May
A decorated car for the Long Beach May Day 2020; photo by Barry Saks

While the Long Beach May Day Coalition, the last several years, has marched through the streets of Long Beach in solidarity with workers, undocumented immigrants and tenants, this year because of COVID-19, it weaved through the streets in a car caravan of about 100 people in about 50 cars, on Friday, May 1, to celebrate May Day and to express their solidarity.

A decorated car for the Long Beach May Day 2020; photo by Barry Saks

The caravan started out at a 24 Hour Fitness at Town Center Drive in Compton.  Sheila Bates from Black Lives Matter-Long Beach said, “(T)he staging location was actually a 24 Hour Fitness …Black Lives Matter is committed to ending state-sanctioned violence in all of its forms, including economic and physical….24 Hours Fitness is … complicit in state-sanctioned murder as a result of the murder of Dennis Todd Rogers and Albert Ramon Dorsey.”  Rogers was killed by Los Angeles County Sheriffs and Dorsey was killed by the Los Angeles Police Department, after 24 Hour Fitness employees called the police.  She said both deaths were preventable. She said BLM has started a boycott of the company with two demands: the company provide cultural competency training for employees and protocols be developed as an alternative to simply calling the police.

Along the caravan’s path they drove past the houses of Councilmen Al Austin and Dee Andrews, and Mayor Robert Garcia. 

A decorated car for the Long Beach May Day 2020; photo by Barry Saks

The caravan’s path also passed where a rent strike is taking place and another where Long Beach Residents Empowered and Housing Long Beach have a strong presence.

A decorated car for the Long Beach May Day 2020; photo by Barry Saks

The caravan ended by driving past the Long Beach Civic Center, the offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the headquarters of the Long Beach Police Department.

Marlene Alvarado contributed to this report with her interview of Bates.

A decorated car for the Long Beach May Day 2020; photo by Barry Saks

California Governor Gavin Newsom Announces the State to Expand Farm to Family Program, New Initiatives to Combat Food Insecurity

2 May

Governor Gavin Newsom, according to a press release, announced, Thursday, April 29, because of COVID-19, has added funding of $3.64 million to expand the Farm to Family program and has expanded CalFresh and the California Electronic Benefit Transfer programs.

CalFresh is a major program of the California Association of Food Banks, according to its website.

The added funding for the Farm to Family program included $2.86 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and $775,000 from donations to jump start a $15 million campaign to further support the program through the end of the year.

The Farm to Family program “works with growers and packers to provide fresh produce to food banks,” also according to the CAFB website.

CalFresh is “for people with low-income who meet federal income eligibility rules and want to add to their budget to put healthy and nutritious food on the table,” according to the California Department of Social Services’ website.

The EBT program was expanded with a new pandemic-EBT for children and the program was also expanded to include online purchases from Amazon.com and Walmart.com and the governor also encourages other supermarkets to join.

Governor Newsom said, “Putting food on the table during this pandemic is hard for families on the brink. It’s in that spirit that we’re expanding our Farm to Family program while also working to connect low-income families with vital resources and financial support. We thank our farmers for stepping up to donate fresh produce to our food banks. And we want families struggling to access food to know we have your backs.”

COVID-19 has created unprecedented demand at California food banks. The demand increased in a year about 73 percent.  In April’s first three weeks, CalfFresh applications increased 140 percent over the same time last year and almost overnight, the markets for California farmers and rangers at the same time decreased 50 percent. The fresh produce supply chain has been hard it because perishable products must be harvested, shipped and consumed in a short time.  Nationally. specialty crop producers estimate losses so far at $5 billion in canceled or reduced contracts with California accounting for at least half.

California’s Farm to Family program, in which the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the CAFB partner to facilitate food donations from farmers and ranchers by supporting food production, processing and distribution of the food supply chain. CDFA received USDA’s approval to redirect $2 million in unused Specialty Crop Block Grant funds to the CAFB to offset the cost of picking, packing and transporting the donated produce. CDSS was awarded an additional $861,854 from the USDA Farm to Food Bank program.  Farm to Family partners with 41 food banks serving all 58 counties, handling logistics of packaging the food and communicating with food banks.

About 128 farmers and ranchers are donating to the CAFB and another 200 farmers have expressed interest in participating. In March, Farm to Family distributed 14.5 million pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables and in April’s first three weeks distributed 18 million pounds of food. These funds will support the donation of 21 million pounds of fresh crops for the May

The donation of $775,000 for the CAFB is to help it meet the increased demand through the end of May. This funding comes from three donors: Kat Taylor, Farm Credit/CoBank and an anonymous donor.

The Governor also announced CalFresh recipients will receive the maximum benefits for May. The continued expansion of benefits was secured through a USDA waiver allowing households to receive the maximum benefit and continues the same benefit received in March and April. On April 12, just over 1.3 million households received nearly $223 million in additional CalFresh benefits with an average increase of $169 per household.

Families with children eligible for free or reduced-price meals are eligible to receive additional support due P-EBT. CDSS has identified roughly 3.8 million children who could qualify, and each eligible child could receive up to $365 in P-EBT benefits. P-EBT eligible children receiving CalFresh, Medi-Cal, or Foster Care benefits do not need to apply for P-EBT benefits and will receive a P-EBT card in the mail in early May. Other families receiving free or reduced lunches but not in CalFresh will need to complete a short online application, which will open in late May. The state estimates it will issue up to $1.4 billion for school closures extending from March 16 through June 12, 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 www.longbeach.gov/covid19 and click on the testing page to get all the information.