By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
Orange County continued to show dramatic improvements in its COVID-19 metrics last week. In fact, the numbers are good enough to allow competitive outdoor youth sports to resume.
Under updated guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, organized and recreational outdoor sports such as baseball, soccer and football, swimming, golf and other qualifying outdoor activities can now be played competitively, with protective measures. The City’s Recreation and Senior Services Department is working with local youth sports organizations to return to competitive outdoor play at City parks and recreation fields as quickly as possible.
While Orange County remains in the Purple Tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the numbers are moving closer to the less restrictive, Red Tier status.
The County’s positivity rate (the percentage of positive tests among those tested) dropped to 5.4 percent, which is well within the Red Tier threshold. The health equity metric decreased to 7.0 percent, which is also within the Red Tier. The 7-day average case number is keeping us in the Purple Tier for now, but it is down significantly, at 11.9. When the case number decreases to 7.0 or below, and if the others hold steady or improve, we can begin moving toward Red Tier guidelines.
The County must maintain Red Tier-level metrics for two weeks in order to be placed in the Red Tier.
Updated vaccine information and resources:
- Orange County’s third vaccine supersite opened on February 23 at the Anaheim Convention Center. This site will be focused on delivering second Moderna vaccine doses to those who received their first dose at the Disneyland site. The vaccinations at this site are by appointment only through Othena.
- The County has expanded vaccine eligibility to Phase 1B, under state guidelines, a group that includes educators, food service, grocery and agriculture workers, child care providers and emergency services workers. The County will reevaluate expanding eligibility to more populations weekly as more vaccine doses become available.
- A Food and Drug Administration review has cleared the new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for Emergency Use Authorization. If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could help speed vaccination efforts in Orange County. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine only requires a single shot, unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.
- The County’s Othena system is not the only vaccination option, as distribution to hospitals, clinics and pharmacies increases. Even if you are registered with Othena, you can also register with the state’s “My Turn” system, administered by Blue Shield, and find other resources at https://www.blueshieldca.com/bsca/bsc/wcm/connect/sites/sites_content_en/coronavirus/vaccine-locations. Orange County has developed a similar vaccine resource web page at this link: https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels.
- If you haven’t done so, consider subscribing to Orange County’s 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 25, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 3,585 and the total cases in Orange County was 245,634. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of February 25 was 228,838. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Upcoming Schedule for Updating the Circulation and Housing Elements
The next few weeks are going to be busy and exciting for our efforts to update the Housing and Circulation Elements with plenty of opportunities for the community to participate. Here is a quick rundown:
- Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at 6 p.m., we have a Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) meeting via Zoom. The HEUAC will hear updates from the active subcommittees, discuss the recent virtual public workshop, and learn about the State’s housing accountability legislation, including the very important topic of No-Net-Loss. The agenda for this meeting will be posted at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/Pln/Housing_Element_Update_Advisory_Committee/current_agenda.pdfhere. The public is welcomed and encouraged to participate remotely.
- Wednesday, March 17, 2021, at 6 p.m., we will have another HEUAC meeting at 6 p.m. via Zoom. The HEUAC will be reviewing the first draft of the Housing Element update.
- Thursday, March 18, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. the Planning Commission will review a first draft of the Circulation Element update. The community is invited and encouraged to attend and provide comment. A virtual public workshop will be held on this document in early April.
- Monday, March 22, 2021, at 6 p.m., we will be hosting a virtual public workshop to present and discuss the draft Housing Element update.
We need your participation and valuable input! As a reminder, you can always check out www.newporttogether.com to stay informed and to participate in the update process through interactive activities and engagement opportunities.
Addressing homelessness continues to be a priority in the City’s ongoing COVID-19 response, and City staff works closely with our contractor City Net, and our 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.
During the February 23, 2021, City Council Study Session, staff presented an Update on Homeless Strategies and highlighted the City’s team approach toward addressing homelessness and some of the success stories in the community. The link to the presentation is: http://newportbeach.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=44&clip_id=3649.
Residents who would like to assist people may donate to the City’s Good Giving program. Donations received through the program enable staff to purchase items such as bicycles, work boots, and small household essentials for newly housed people. All donations are tax deductible. The link for donating is: https://newportbeachca.gov/trending/community-issues/homelessness/how-you-can-help.
- A young couple who was housed in late November 2020 both accepted fulltime employment in recent weeks. They commute by bus up to an hour each way and are saving money to purchase bicycles to shorten their commute and save on bus fare.
- A couple who had been living in their car for several months moved into a new apartment in Irvine. City Net, in collaboration with American Family Housing, located the unit and assisted them with the move. City Net continues to provide case management to ensure a successful housing outcome. American Family Housing, founded in Santa Ana in 1985, provides housing assistance and an array of services for those in need.
- City Net is actively working with two clients who are temporarily sheltered at the Extended Stay motel with their housing vouchers. Case managers collected the required paperwork and documents and are working with the Orange County Housing Authority to expedite the process to get the clients permanently housed.
- City Net helped a man staying by the Newport Pier complete a housing assessment to locate appropriate living arrangements and temporary shelter options.
Making it Convenient to Recycle Oil
As part of the City’s commitment to maintain harbor and ocean water quality, Public Works and the Utilities Department teamed up this month to upgrade the Balboa Yacht Basin’s used-oil drop location. Staff installed a new tank specifically made for easy disposal of used motor oil and oil filters. The City continues its partnership with Orange County’s, CalRecycle® used oil recycling grant program which provides funding for projects that reduce the amount of illegally disposed used oil and used oil filters.
The City has been an active participant in the CalRecycle® program since 2001. Public Works staff are actively developing plans for other sites around the harbor to provide convenient oil disposal locations for residents and the boating community.
Below is a listing of used oil and filter drop off sites around the harbor and in the City:
- Hill’s Boat Service, 814 E. Bay Ave, Newport Beach
- Island Marine Fuel, 406 S. Bay Front, Balboa Island
- Balboa Yacht Basin, 829 Harbor Island Dr., Newport Beach
- Corona del Mar 76, 2201 E. Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar
- Corona del Mar Chevron, 2545 E. Coast Hwy, Corona del Mar
- Harbor View Mobile, 2500 San Joaquin Hills Rd., Corona del Mar