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Coronavirus Update: More Cases, More Testing, Greater 'Social Distancing' Enforcement

Apr 04, 2020 04:27PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Ocean Ave. has become a popular destination for walkers, runners, and cyclists.

As the number of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases continues to rise in Manhattan Beach, new testing opportunities are available and stricter "social distancing" enforcement is expected to be in place.

As of noon on April 4, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 46 confirmed cases in Manhattan Beach. Manhattan Beach continues to report cases at a relatively high rate compared to other jurisdictions, with a rate of 130.79 per 100,000 people.

County-wide, there have been 5,277 confirmed cases and 117 deaths. As of today, 1,168 people who tested positive for COVID-19 (22% of positive cases) in L.A. County have been hospitalized at some point during their illness.

“Though COVID-19 infects people of all ages, the majority of the people dying from COVID-19 are individuals over the age of 65 with underlying health conditions, said Barbara Ferrer Los Angeles County Director of Public Health in a statement. "Now more than ever, we must try to protect those most vulnerable by making it easy for them to take every precaution and safely stay home. This is the time for neighbors, friends, and families to make sure that those at high risk for serious illness from COVID-19 are able to easily remain in their homes with all their needs met. So, call and check in on your elderly neighbors, and when possible, safely drop off any supplies they may need while keeping your distance."

According to LACDPH, emerging evidence suggests that there may be a significant number of people infected with COVID-19 who are asymptomatic and capable of spreading the virus to others. New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls on individuals to universal precautions all the time – assuming that each of us can infect others even when we aren’t sick, and that others can infect us.

Testing Capacity Increases


Testing capacity continues to increase across Los Angeles County, with almost 29,000 individuals tested and 14% of people testing positive.

The County of Los Angeles and the Beach Cities Health District have opened up a drive-through testing facility at the South Bay Galleria. However, those tests are given by appointment only. 

To secure an appointment, you must 1) be age 65 and over and showing symptoms; 2) have an underlying health problem and be showing symptoms; or 3) be going through a mandatory quarantine period after a confirmed exposure to someone with COVID-19 (and have seven days or more remaining on your quarantine). For more information, see the county's FAQ page.

Stricter Enforcement Promised


At Friday morning's Manhattan Beach City Council meeting, council members expressed a rare frustration with the city manager and the police chief upon learning of a lack of citations this week for social distancing, and only one construction site shut down for social distancing violations.

"It astounds me that we’ve not issued a single citation this week when we’ve gotten a flood of phone calls," said council member Steve Napolitano.

"My question is to the city manager - what does it take?" added council member Nancy Hersman.  "I feel that council has been direct and specific with you. I don’t get it... I’m all for forgiveness and mercy. But the county is clamoring for enforcement. Why are we not doing it?

City officials insisted that picture evidence was not enough, and violators need to be "caught in the act" to be cited. Nonetheless, City Manager Bruce Moe promised that city staff would be "taking out all the stops" to enforce social distancing protocols moving forward.

The city then issued an emergency order listing additional, specific social distancing measures at construction sites. Furthermore, it promised "zero tolerance enforcement."

Violators of the emergency order, as well as the existing social distancing ordinance, will be fined $1,000. Violations at construction sites will result in the worksite being shut down.

DigMB has now heard several reports of tickets being issued to people in Polliwog Park (which has been officially closed by the city) on Saturday.

Further Developments

Mask-Wearing

In other COVID-19 news, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has now officially recommended that members of the public wear cloth face coverings (not medical-grade masks) in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (such as grocery stores and pharmacies).

However, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health notes that the best community and individual defenses against COVID-19 continue to be frequent hand-washing; avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands; avoiding being around sick people; and practicing six-feet physical distancing, especially by staying at home. Face coverings are not meant to replace these practices; they are meant to serve as an additional layer of protection.

School Closures

The governor of California, the state superintendent of California, and the superintendent of the L.A. County Office of Education have all recommended that schools remain physically closed for the rest of the academic year.

At the moment, school closures at the Manhattan Beach Unified School District have only been announced officially through May 5.

However, with the recommendations from the state and the county, the possibility of closing through the rest of the school year is turning into a probability, Manhattan Beach Unified School District Superintendent Mike Matthews wrote in an email to parents.

He said that the school board would discuss the matter officially at its next meeting on April 15.

The Manhattan Beach schools are currently on spring break through April 12.

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