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COVID-19 Coronavirus Causing Consternation, Cancellations

Mar 12, 2020 07:14PM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Editor's Note: This story was updated on Friday to reflect additional closures, cancellations, and postponements. We have created a separate post with a full list of cancellations and postponements here - check back for frequent updates.

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19), which is causing upheaval both locally and nationwide, is now the source of controversy in Manhattan Beach - with city officials blaming the county for a lack of communication and information.

City Blasts L.A. County Department of Health

Manhattan Beach officials on Wednesday issued a statement saying that there were no COVID-19 cases in Manhattan Beach. However, on Thursday, the city issued a followup statement reporting that an individual had contacted the city by telephone to report that he had tested positive for COVID-19 by the L.A. County Department of Health (DPH). That individual and another infected individual are reportedly self-quarantined at a home in Manhattan Beach, according to the statement. The two individuals had apparently been traveling overseas together with a larger group when they became ill.

When the city attempted to contact DPH to confirm the cases, its messages were not returned.

"The city contacted Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office for assistance with obtaining information from DPH. The supervisor’s office advised that DPH will not confirm or report COVID-19 illnesses to the local agency (city) unless there is known public exposure or need to cancel an event or close a facility.  Further, under state and federal law, public health investigations are confidential," according to the statement by Manhattan Beach officials.

Manhattan Beach Mayor Richard Montgomery blasted the department for the lack of information.

“This is very disturbing and seriously disappointing to say the least,” said Montgomery in a statement. “Not being able to obtain information about COVID-19 cases in our own community is counterproductive to our common goal of protecting our residents.”

Montgomery, in a follow-up email on Thursday evening, said that the DPH was "adamant" that confirming the number of cases in the city would violate patient privacy. He said he would continue to pursue the matter with Supervisor Janice Hahn, as the Board of Supervisors oversees DPH.

Meanwhile, the city has convened an internal task force to establish procedures and protocols moving forward in its response to the coronavirus. The task force is led by the Manhattan Beach Fire Chief and its members include executive management and other key staff members within the city.

MBUSD To Close "For At Least a Week"

Late on Thursday night, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Mike Matthews announced that MBUSD schools would be closing as of Monday, March 16 "for at least a week," with teachers providing remote instruction. 

Matthews said that the decision to close the schools came as a result of the recent news about two reported cases of COVID-19 in Manhattan Beach, "and in a proactive effort to protect the health of our students and staff."

When students go to school on Friday, March 13, they will collect materials and learn more from their teachers about how the remote instruction will take place. 

All activities, events, and athletics will be cancelled, and there will be no practices, meets, games, or any public gatherings held on campus. Students and parents may come on campus during that time with a scheduled appointment.

Cancellations, Closures Continue

Meanwhile, a variety of events and locations are shutting down in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus.

For a full list of cancellations and postponements (actively being updated), visit our Keep Up with Cancellations, Postponements post.

Healthy Reminders

As a reminder, in order to reduce the risk of spreading illnesses, it is recommended that each person:

  • Stay home if sick or need to care for a sick family member.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing using a tissue or sleeve (not hands).
  • Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces often.

If you have questions and would like to speak to someone, or need help finding medical care, call the Los Angeles County Information line 2-1-1, which is available 24/7.

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