By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
While Orange County remains in the Purple Tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the COVID-19 metrics are steadily improving. As vaccination numbers increase, and cases decrease, we will get closer and closer to moving into less restrictive tiers.
Orange County’s average daily cases per 100,000 population, which had been as high as 67.8 in mid-January, are down to 29.7. The testing positivity rate continued to drop as well, from 10.9 percent last week to 9.4 percent this week. The health equity metric also showed improvement, dropping from 13.9 percent last week to 12.4 percent this week.
The County of Orange continues to operate two large “point of disbursement” vaccination sites, known as Super PODs, at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim and Soka University in Aliso Viejo. Appointments for those sites can be made at Othena.com. Vaccines are also being distributed through hospitals and select pharmacies.
Here is updated vaccine information and resources as of February 12:
- Mayor Brad Avery recently sat down for an interview with Dr. Martin Fee of Hoag Hospital, who gave an informative update on COVID-19. The discussion included the impacts of the pandemic on Hoag, the outlook for vaccinations, and more. You can watch the video on NBTV government access cable channels or on the City’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NYYcixtX4I&t=11s.
- To continue reducing hospital ICU levels, the County is maintaining vaccine eligibility to Orange County residents aged 65 and over and healthcare workers. The County will reevaluate expanding eligibility to more populations weekly as ICU levels stabilize and more vaccine doses become available.
- Optimal immunity from vaccination against COVID-19 appears to take effect 2-3 weeks after the second dose. Please continue to wash your hands frequently, wear a mask and practice physical distancing outside the home, and avoid gathering with those who do not live with you.
- For those who have received a first dose of the vaccine, the Othena system should automatically alert you to a second dose appointment. However, if you haven’t received a second dose appointment and your due date is coming up, the County recommends you go to the Disneyland Resort Super POD on the day that your second dose is due (the date on the back of your vaccination card). Once on site, have both the vaccination card and ID on hand and the Othena team will be able to assist.
- A Vietnamese language version of Othena.com is now available, in addition to the Spanish- language version released last week. The County is working on updates to the Othena smartphone app for both the Spanish and Vietnamese languages.
- Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine has been submitted to the Food and Drug Administration approval for Emergency Use Authorization. If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could help speed vaccination efforts in Orange County.
- The County has developed a weekly e-newsletter dedicated to vaccine information. You can sign up to receive the OC COVID19 Vaccine Facts newsletter at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-resources. Scroll down until you see the subscribe button and enter your email.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of February 12, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 3,481 and the total cases in Orange County was 240,999. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of February 12 was 209,270. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Community Development Fourth Quarter Activity Report
The Community Development Department Fourth Quarter Activity Report is now available at www.newportbeachca.gov/cdd. The report compiles operational statistics to illustrate the volume of business activity that the department handles on a quarterly basis. The last quarter of 2020 continued to meet the high demand of the development community despite ongoing operational challenges due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) Meeting Next Week: February 17
On Wednesday, February 17, 2021, at 6 p.m., the City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEAUC) will hold a meeting virtually via Zoom. The HEUAC is anticipated to do the following:
- Hear updates from the active subcommittees and receive and file final memorandums prepared by some of the subcommittees over the past months.
- Receive an overview and provide input on the progress made related to the housing opportunity sites inventory, including several approaches with varied densities and affordability to meet the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation.
- Receive an overview of the policy framework outline to help achieve the identified densities and affordability in each targeted area of Newport Beach.
The agenda for this meeting will be posted online at https://newportbeachca.gov/Home/Components/Calendar/Event/65420/72. The public is welcomed and encouraged to participate remotely.
The HEUAC is scheduled to meet the first and third Wednesdays of each month on an as-needed basis. For more information on the HEUAC, please see its webpage at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/government/data-hub/agendas-minutes/housing-element-update-advisory-committee.
As a reminder, you can also check out www.newporttogether.com to help stay informed and to participate in the update process through interactive activities and engagement opportunities.
Harbor Dredging Update
The City is preparing to dredge the lower Newport Harbor to remove sediment that has accumulated on the harbor floor. The project, a joint effort between the Army Corps of Engineers, City of Newport Beach and County of Orange, will remove about 1 million cubic yards of accumulated sediment from the harbor floor, returning it to the original depths of 10 to 20 feet.
Dredging Newport Harbor is essential to maintain safe, navigable waterways for recreational and commercial boaters as well as public safety vessels. Dredging will also improve the harbor aquatic environment by increasing tidal flushing.
Most of the dredged material will be disposed of in the open ocean, or to replenish the Balboa Peninsula ocean beaches. Some of the dredge material (about 10 percent) is unsuitable for ocean disposal because it contains small amounts of mercury from past industrial activity. This material will be safely sequestered away from contact with boats, swimmers and wildlife using an EPA-approved method called Confined Aquatic Disposal (CAD). Throughout the project, every effort will be made to minimize impacts on homeowners and boaters.
For more information on the project, visit: www.newportbeachca.gov/harbordredging.
Addressing homelessness continues to be a priority in the City’s ongoing COVID-19 response, working closely with contractor City Net and regional partners throughout the county and state. The City Net hotline number is (714) 451-6198. Those who call the hotline may leave a detailed voicemail message for themselves or others in need and City Net staff will respond within 48 hours. For immediate assistance call the County’s Crisis Prevention Hotline at (877) 7-CRISIS or (877) 727-4747.
- City Net, in collaboration with American Family Housing, placed a formerly homeless man into permanent housing. The man has been living in a motel since May as part of the state’s Project Roomkey program. Prior to that, he had been staying by the Newport Transportation Center for several months. American Family Housing, founded in Santa Ana in 1985, provides housing assistance and an array of services for those in need.
- City Net helped two people complete housing assessments to locate appropriate living arrangements. City Net is assisting one of them with coordinating retirement benefits through Social Security.
- A woman who has periodically experienced homelessness by the Newport Pier for 10 years entered a sober living home. The Homeless Liaison Officer located the program, assisted the woman with the intake process, and provided her with new clothing.
- An elderly woman who was placed into a motel at the beginning of the COVID- 19 pandemic received a housing voucher. City Net case managers and housing navigators are locating appropriate housing for her.
- Staff and City Net provided outreach for a man staying in his RV by the Balboa Pier since mid- November. The man reported serious medical issues and requested assistance through another agency. After several interactions with the man, he indicated he was returning to his home in Michigan.
- City Net staff continues to provide food gift cards, support, and case management to several people sheltering in motels while they await placement into permanent, supportive housing.