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Long Beach Coming Together to Address Challenges of Coronavirus Outbreak
By Councilmember Al Austin II
Published March 26, 2020

Councilmember Al Austin II (Courtesy photo)

The COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak is an extremely challenging time for everyone.  The new normal of “Safer at Home” and social distancing is putting an unprecedented burden on families, workers, businesses, our health care system and local governments.

Long Beach is fortunate to have our own Health Department.  This allows our City to plan, monitor and act quickly in response to the conditions and needs in Long Beach, while working closely with our County and State partners.

With Mayor Robert Garcia and our City Health Officer, Dr. Anissa Davis, leading the way, Long Beach has been providing a consistent message with L.A. County and the State about the urgency and seriousness of this crisis.  Our City declared a Local Health Emergency and State of Local Emergency on March 4.

All City departments and elected officials are working together to take the steps necessary to get Long Beach through this public health and economic crisis.

With additional financial support from the State, Long Beach is opening additional shelter space for persons experiencing homelessness.  This will allow us to help get people off the street and ensure that there is the appropriate social distancing between shelter beds.

The City Council also adopted an eviction moratorium, to allow tenants additional time to make rent payments, if they are financially hit by the COVID-19 crisis, and not put more people out on the street.

Long Beach is also working to open additional hospital rooms.  The City-owned facility at Community Hospital of Long Beach was closed two years ago when the previous operator ended the lease agreement.  Our City worked to find a new operator, John Molina and Molina, Wu, Network, LLC and approved a lease and financial arrangement last fall with the hopes of Community Hospital opening later this year.

With the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the new operator and City officials have been working with the state to expedite the re-opening of the hospital, and received an emergency order from the State to allow it to open to receive transfers from other nearby hospitals to free up beds for the potential influx of new cases.  When Community Hospital opens soon, it will provide an additional 158 beds, as well as 10 ventilators and 10 ICU beds.

The citywide response by our residents to this health crisis has been amazing.  Our community is coming together to look after each other’s needs, while heeding the City’s “Safer at Home” order to maintain social distancing.

As in communities everywhere, our small businesses are hurting.  My office is adapting and responding.  We continue to provide information to residents about restaurants and other food options that are still open for delivery or take-out, to encourage them to help our small businesses make it through these difficult times.

My office will continue to work with our Parks and Rec Department and community partners to get meals to our local seniors, who may not have access or means to get food on a regular basis.

Long Beach also has established the Long Beach Disaster Relief Fund (longbeachcf.org), in which people can make donations to assist our local community with the financial impacts of this public health crisis.  The funds will be granted to local non-profit organizations that are directly helping our neighbors in need.

The WorkPlace Job Center (pacific-gateway.org), a collaboration between our Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network and the state’s Employment Development Department, is remaining open to help job seekers connect to free services and consultation to gain employment.

Our Long Beach Public Library (lbpl.org) and many community partners are providing numerous online resources for free to provide educational and entertainment opportunities as we all cope with staying at home.

I would like to thank our health care providers, our public health officials and City team, and first responders, for continuing to excel in this time of crisis, and providing steady leadership to get us through.  Long Beach has also received great support from L.A. County, including Supervisor Janice Hahn and our State leaders.  I also applaud our residents, business owners, faith leaders, school partners and community groups who continue to show that during times of crisis, we do come together and rise above these unprecedented challenges for the betterment of our community.

I encourage everyone to continue to stay informed.  You can go to longbeach.gov/COVID19, or visit my website at longbeach.gov/district8 or email district8@longbeach.gov to sign up for regular email updates on the latest developments.

Stay safe, and with everyone doing their part, we will get through this.

 

Categories: COVID-19 | Local | News | Political
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