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West Hollywood City Council announces local emergency over COVID-19 crisis

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By the time the West Hollywood City Council met Monday night, many city establishments had already shut their doors to the public. Earlier in the day the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had sent out a series of strident health recommendations regarding COVID-19, which rendered some of the mandates drafted by the council moot. The city’s resolution had already circulated on social media that afternoon, and public comments, largely submitted online, had poured in throughout the weekend. A revised version of the full resolution will be posted when made available.

What residents need to know is that the City of West Hollywood has followed the City of Los Angeles, LA County, the state of California and the federal government in declaring an emergency, which is currently scheduled to last 60 days, roughly until the end of April.

Bars, nightclubs, gyms, schools, theatres, gathering spaces and restaurants throughout West Hollywood, as with the rest of the county, are closed, save for limited take-out, drive-through and delivery services.

The amendment did not include recovery programs, although the West Hollywood Recovery Center has elected to voluntarily close and conduct meetings online via Zoom until at least April 1, a date initially hoped for as a beginning to end of the crisis.

City buildings will also be closed and those that work for the city will be allowed to work from home. Parks will remain open, but park facilities will close. Most public transit will not operate, but Dial-A-Ride and the city shuttle, which primarily cater to senior citizens, will continue to be available. It is stressed, however, that residents 65 and older stay home if at all possible. The council will be setting specific hours for senior citizens to shop at local grocery stores, for both their safety and to help maintain social distancing.

“I realize this is a lot of information,” said City Attorney Lauren Langer. “Everything is moving quickly. Staff has been working all day and all night to get these documents out to you.”

Prior to the meeting, the LA Public Health Department stated there were five confirmed cases of the virus in West Hollywood. Representatives from the DHP were at the council meeting, practicing along with the few in attendance, the CDC recommended social distancing.

The council members, too, sat a minimum of six feet apart, while Mayor John D’Amico, who did not feel well, phoned in remotely. D’Amico was unsure of his symptoms and was following the guidelines that suggest a person self-quarantine if they feel even mildly sick.

Many community members had expressed concern over job losses and looming rents. The council voted to put a moratorium on evictions, allowing six months for tenants to repay their landlords any back-rent. There will also be financial services available for those out of work that might not qualify for unemployment, including for people who work in West Hollywood but live elsewhere in the county. A fund will be established that citizens can donate to for this purpose, as well.

Details will be added to the city’s website as they become available. Check their coronavirus information page.

Some taxes will also be lowered for businesses with the agreement that they keep staff on the payroll. Councilmember John Duran suggested that this item might have to “go farther” if the crisis lingers.

Originally, there was to be a four-week break between council meetings due to construction in the council chamber, but now the team will meet at either a yet-to-be-determined location or through virtual means on April 6.

In the meantime, City Manager Paul Arevalo has been given authority through the emergency proclamation to make further amendments to the resolution if necessary before the council meets again. Arevalo stated that he would run any changes by the council and he and Langer would work to make sure their guidelines match with the ever-changing national recommendations.

Arevalo has also been given the authority to work on gathering and moving the West Hollywood homeless population off the streets. Healthy volunteers will soon be called upon to deliver meals to older and at-risk residents, as well as provide assistance to Cedars-Sinai Hospital. Charitable organizations like Project Angel Food will, too, be working to close the gap and are in need of volunteers.

The city is looking at training staff from local hotels for emergency outreach positions, too.

Hotels and retail stores have not yet been advised to close and they are encouraged to practice the recommended social distancing of 3-to-6 feet as they continue operation.

“It’s an uncertain time, but we are making sure we can provide for our West Hollywood residents as best we can,” said Councilmember Lindsey Horvath.

It should be noted that the measures, while extensive, are not yet to the lockdown level of Northern California cities like San Francisco, which has gone as far as to close all but essential businesses and placed curfews on residents. West Hollywood leadership does not yet feel such measures are necessary, but Duran said that the city is well-positioned for fluid change in the weeks to come.

“This is all unprecedented,” said Duran. “There is no previous experience to base all of this on. But, fortunately, our small and nimble government can respond to issues quickly as they come up. We can constantly adapt as we move forward day to day.”

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Coronavirus

Spread of COVID escalates to 2K a day, Masking order in effect Saturday

The urgency to get more people vaccinated remains high with this level of spread. For everyone whose eligible the time do it is now.

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health continues to see alarming trends of increased community spread as Public Health confirms 1,902 new cases of COVID-19 Friday.

As of July 9, 2021, the 7-day daily average case rate is 8.2 per 100,000, up from 7.1, indicating sustained and increased community transmission. This number will continue to increase with each day that the number of cases reported is higher the previous day.

Cases are highest and rising the fastest in adults age 18 to 49 years old.  Of the new cases reported by Public Health today, 71% are among adults 18 to 49 years old.

Today’s test positivity rate is 3.8%.  In early-June, test positivity was near 0.4%.

Public Health strongly urges those that are eligible and not yet vaccinated to get vaccinated now.  Being fully vaccinated against COVID-19 lowers your risk of infection, and more significantly lowers your chance of being hospitalized or dying if you do get infected. The risk of increased spread is highest among individuals that remain unvaccinated. The more COVID-19 spreads, the more opportunities it has to mutate – and the more COVID-19 mutates, the greater the chance there may be another variant that can spread even more quickly or cause more harm to the people it infects.

Wearing a mask when indoors reduces the risk of both getting and transmitting the virus. The Los Angeles County Health Officer Order has been modified to require masking for everyone while indoors, regardless of vaccination status. Despite the very low percentage of fully vaccinated people that have gotten infected since vaccinations started in December 2020, a total of 4,122 cases out of 4,769,828 fully vaccinated people (~0.09%) have been reported, as of July 13, 2021. While this is a small percentage, it is not an insignificant number in light of Los Angeles County’s current substantial and increasing community transmission. It demonstrates that even with highly effective vaccines, there is still potential for breakthrough infections that can put everyone at risk – including those who are unable to be vaccinated. So, masking by all indoors can reduce everyone’s risk of infection and the risk of transmission to others if infected.

The modified Order has been issued today and will take effect on Saturday, July 17 at 11:59 p.m. Some exceptions will apply, similar to masking requirements that were in place prior to the June 15 reopening.

To date, Public Health identified 1,264,450 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 24,568 deaths. Of the six new deaths reported today, one person that passed away was over the age of 80, one person who passed was between the ages of 65 and 79, two people who passed were between the ages of 50 and 64 and, one person who passed was between the ages of 30 and 49. One death was reported by the City of Long Beach. Testing results are available for more than 7,155,000 individuals with 16% of people testing positive.

“We thank the millions of residents that are vaccinated and the schools and businesses that continue to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. We have all seen COVID-19 spread very fast in just a small amount time.  The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and the increase in hospitalizations signals immediate action must be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Otherwise, we may quickly see more devastating illness and death among the millions of residents,”

“We thank the millions of residents that are vaccinated and the schools and businesses that continue to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. We have all seen COVID-19 spread very fast in just a small amount time.  The alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and the increase in hospitalizations signals immediate action must be taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. Otherwise, we may quickly see more devastating illness and death among the millions of residents,” said Muntu Davis, MD, Los Angeles County Health Officer.

“Without physical distancing and capacity limits during a time of substantial community spread, masking by everyone indoors is a simple and effective action we all can take to lower risk of transmission while limiting disruption to normal business capacity and operations. The urgency to get more people vaccinated remains high with this level of spread. For everyone whose eligible and still waiting to get vaccinated, the time do it is now,” he added

Without physical distancing and capacity limits during a time of substantial community spread, masking by everyone indoors is a simple and effective action we all can take to lower risk of transmission while limiting disruption to normal business capacity and operations. The urgency to get more people vaccinated remains high with this level of spread. For everyone whose eligible and still waiting to get vaccinated, the time do it is now.”

Anyone 12 and older living or working in L.A. County can get vaccinated against COVID-19. To make it as easy as possible for eligible L.A. County residents to get vaccinated, L.A. County continues to offer vaccines at many different sites across the county. This week, there are 771 sites offering vaccinations including pharmacies, clinics, community sites, and hospitals and 286 sites where mobile teams will be offering vaccinations, which are concentrated in higher-need, harder hit areas. You can obtain vaccines at County-run sites, all the LA city-run sites, almost all mobile sites, and many community sites without an appointment. Many sites are open on weekends and have evening hours.

Beginning today, Friday, July 17 through next Thursday, July 22 at County-run vaccination sites, LA City sites, and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center sites, everyone 18 and older coming to get a vaccine will have an opportunity to win one of seven packages of tickets to family fun at the Staples Center, including performances by the Harlem Globetrotters, Disney on Ice, and the Gold Over America tour starring Simone Biles.

To find a vaccination site near you, make an appointment at vaccination sites, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). If you don’t have internet access, can’t use a computer, or you’re over 65, you can call 1-833-540-0473 for help finding an appointment, connecting to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or scheduling a home-visit if you are homebound.  Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

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Coronavirus

Masks will be required indoors regardless of vaccination status

The new masking order goes into effect 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, July 17.

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – All County residents regardless of vaccination status will be required to wear masks in indoor public settings as COVID-19 cases among unvaccinated have risen to alarming levels, LA County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said Thursday.

The new masking order goes into effect 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, July 17.

“We’re not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing,” Davis said. The county recorded 1,537 new coronavirus cases Thursday, a 83% increase over the last week, according to the LA County Department of Health.

In a related story the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday afternoon that the University of California has announced that COVID-19 vaccinations will be required before the fall term begins for all students, faculty and staff, becoming the nation’s largest public university system to mandate the vaccines even though the shots don’t yet have full federal approval.

As the highly contagious Delta variant spreads amid lower vaccination rates among younger people, unvaccinated students without approved exemptions will be barred from in-person classes, events and campus facilities, including housing.

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Coronavirus

LA County- 5th day of 1K+ new COVID19 cases, Delta variant increases

The COVID-19 vaccines are the most powerful tool to reduce the risk of serious illness if infected Public Health says

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed 1,103 new cases of the coronavirus Tuesday which marked the fifth straight day of more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases. “One month ago, on June 13, the five-day average of cases was 201 and today the five-day average is 1,095,” Public Health said in a statement. “This is an increase of more than 500% in just one month.”

More worrisome officials said was that the test positivity rate has increased nearly 700% from the 0.5% seen a month ago; Tuesday’s test positivity rate was 3.4%. The statewide seven-day positivity rate is 2.7%, which is 50% higher than a week ago and at the highest point since late February, according to data from the California Department of Public Health.

Both state and local health officials expected a jump in cases when capacity limits were lifted for businesses and most mask restrictions and social distancing requirements were eliminated for vaccinated people in mid-June.

A major concern right now is Delta, a highly contagious strain which was first identified in India last December. It then swept rapidly through that country and Great Britain as well. The first Delta case in the United States was diagnosed a couple of months ago (in March) and it is now the dominant strain in all 50 states, hitting hardest where vaccination rates are low.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) shows that the Delta variant is the cause more than half of all new COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and it is now the leading cause of coronavirus related deaths among those who are unvaccinated.

“The COVID-19 vaccines are the most powerful tool to reduce the risk of serious illness if infected. A significant number of unvaccinated people indoors, with a highly contagious Delta variant circulating, makes it easy for this variant to be transmitted at higher rates,” said Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health. If you are not fully vaccinated yet, wear your mask in all indoor public settings and wash your hands or use hand sanitizer frequently when outside your home. Get vaccinated without delay to have the best protection.” 

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