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More COVID-19 Closures in Manhattan Beach as Cases Rise

Mar 30, 2020 10:11AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Editor's note: This story has now been updated to reflect the latest COVID-19 numbers from the Los Angeles County Department of Health, including 31 confirmed cases in Manhattan Beach.

After Manhattan Beach adapted to its first weekend without the beach, the Manhattan Beach Unified School District officially closed its fields on Monday morning. Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Manhattan Beach rose to 31.

School Fields Closed

"It is with no small amount of regret that MBUSD announces that all of our fields and blacktops will be closed to the public beginning today," MBUSD Superintendent Mike Matthews wrote in an email to parents on Monday morning. "While part of the reason is that we have continued to witness people who were not observing social distancing practices – and, as a result, had to have our staff approach them and ask them to separate – we also recognize that the nation is moving to completely eliminate all opportunities for the spread of COVID-19 and that we need to do our part in that."

The school fields and Waller Field and track at Mira Costa High School have been popular destinations for those seeking exercise during the COVID-19 shutdown. In the case of Waller Field, staff members have been on hand to remind visitors to keep safe social distances. However, social crowding and group activities had continued despite warnings from staff and administrators.

Matthews added that the district hoped to reopen the fields in the near future. "We are all looking forward to seeing a downturn in the number of cases and reopening our fields and blacktops when we feel it is safe."

COVID-19 Cases Continue to Rise

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in Manhattan Beach. As of Sunday, March 29, the Los Angeles County Department of Health reported 31 COVID-19 cases in Manhattan Beach. (Note that this number is exclusive to Manhattan Beach, and no longer includes Hermosa Beach, which is now counted separately.)

Monsignor John Barry of American Martyrs Catholic Church has informed parishioners that he has been diagnosed with the virus and is currently in the hospital. 

"I ask that you continue to pray as my recovery continues. I hope to come home in the next couple of days," said Barry in a statement. "And please pray for all who are ill, and also for all the healthcare workers at this time that God may continue to give them strength and keep them healthy."

As of Sunday, the total number of cases in Los Angeles County had risen to 2,474 with 44 deaths. There were 72 total reported cases in the Beach Cities (Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach).

First Weekend of Beach Closures

Over the weekend, Manhattan Beach learned to adapt to its first weekend without the beach or Strand.

In general, the beaches were mostly clear, with officers on patrol to clear a handful of violators. 

However, much of the Strand traffic relocated one block further East to Ocean Ave. On Sunday, Ocean Ave. was filled with walkers, runners, and bikers. 

Nevertheless, at the Manhattan Beach City Council meeting on Monday morning, Councilmember Steve Napolitano said that although Ocean Ave. had been more crowded over the weekend, it was better than what had been occurring on the (narrower) Strand. "For the most part I saw proper social distancing - so much better social distancing than was on the Strand," he said.

Also speaking at the City Council meeting, Manhattan Beach Police Chief Derrick Abell concurred. "People were asking me where they could go. The fact that they were asking is an improvement," he said.

Abell said that he was reluctant to put up social distancing signage on Ocean Ave. at the moment because it is already a crowded street, but police would continue to work with those who were out exercising. "We just have to manage it on a day to day basis and calm people’s frustrations," he said. "We’ll continue to patrol the area."

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