By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
The downward trend of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continued this week. Orange County’s average daily cases per 100,000 population, which had been as high as 67.8 in mid-January, are down to 39. The testing positivity rate dropped from 12.9 percent to 10.9 percent, and the health equity metric is also down, from 16.6 percent to 13.9 percent.
With the case numbers improving, we will be reopening Newport Beach City Hall to the public for some services on Monday, Feb. 8, with social distancing measures in place, including mandatory face coverings. Many outdoor recreation programs will start to resume.
Since January 11, applications for planning, building, public works or fire permits and plan checks have been handled through designated drop boxes outside City Hall. Beginning Monday, those services will be provided indoors. The Cashier’s Office will also reopen for in-person transactions.
“Ski Week” camps will begin February 15, followed by a full array of outdoor classes, for all ages, resuming the week of February 22. For updates on recreation programs and classes, please visit the Recreation and Senior Services website.
The public is still encouraged to utilize phone, email and web services whenever possible to limit exposure to COVID-19. Most bill payments and other cashier services can be handled online.
City Council and commission meetings will continue to be streamed live at newportbeachca.gov and NBTV government access cable channels. The public can comment live by phone and/or by email on specific agenda items. City Hall is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays.
Meanwhile, the County of Orange continues to improve its vaccination registration system and distribution efficiency. Last weekend, about 13,000 vaccinations were distributed in two days. Since early January, 242,349 people have received at least one dose of the vaccine (the figure includes first and second doses) from the County.
Here is updated vaccine information and resources as of February 5:
- The County’s Soka University Super Point-of-Dispensing (POD) site has added an ADA vaccine lane for individuals with appointments who are persons with disabilities displaying vehicle placards or license plates.
- A Spanish language version of Othena.com is now available by clicking on “English” at the top of the page and then selecting “Español” in the dropdown menu. A Vietnamese language version of Othena.com is coming soon. Updates to the Othena smartphone app are currently in the works to include both languages.
- CVS Pharmacy announced this week that it will begin distributing vaccines at its stores in select Southern California cities, including Newport Beach, beginning Feb. 11. This will be done by appointment, with no walk-ins allowed. CVS will follow the state guidelines for priority distribution. For more information visit: https://www.cvs.com/immunizations/covid-19-vaccine.
- To make a vaccine appointment through the County system, visit Othena.com and register to be placed in a “digital waiting room.” Appointment notifications to those in the “digital waiting room” will be prioritized based on factors including age, time of registration and available vaccine supply. Eligible individuals will be notified to schedule an appointment by email or notification through the Othena app. Appointments are scheduled for no more than three days out as the County depends on the State for its supply of vaccine doses.
- Those who received their first vaccine dose through the Othena system will automatically receive their second dose appointment confirmation through Othena.
- Anyone 65 and older can make an appointment and receive the vaccine. If you are under 65, please do not make an appointment or download the app.
- You must make an appointment to be vaccinated. Vaccinations will only be administered to those who have an appointment. This means that no walk-ups are being allowed at the vaccine distribution sites.
- If you have questions or need technical assistance call 714- 834-2000, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., or email Othena at [email protected]. This is for support with the Othena system, not to schedule appointments.
- 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.
- Newport Beach will host local, community clinics once it is authorized by the County. The City has submitted a formal request to the County of Orange seeking authorization to host community clinics once the larger, County distribution sites have been established and additional vaccine doses become available.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of February 4, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 3,381 and the total cases in Orange County was 235,310. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of February 4 was 192,411. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
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.
- Thanks to generous donations from the Newport Beach community, a newly housed woman was able to pay January rent and stay in her home. The woman’s hours were reduced at work due to COVID-19 and she was unable to afford the full monthly rent payment. The woman recently found housing after living in her car for two years following a divorce. She continues to work in Newport Beach and accepted a second job to supplement her income.
- A man who was sleeping in his car was enrolled into City Net services. City Net will complete a housing assessment with him to locate appropriate living arrangements.
- City Net enrolled a man into services who is staying by the Newport Transportation Center. They are working to obtain General Relief funds and an Electronic Benefits Transfer card. General Relief is a cash assistance program funded by the County of Orange. The program provides temporary cash aid and is a loan for indigent adults who do not qualify for Federal or State funded cash programs. The EBT service provides $125 a month per person to purchase food.
- 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.
- 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.
Community Invited to Upcoming Circulation Workshop on February 10
On Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 6 p.m., the City will host a workshop related to the Circulation Element update.
Over the past few months, community members have shared individual visions, expressed concerns, identified challenges, and helped the City understand what is important about transporting people and goods in Newport Beach. At this upcoming workshop, we now need the community’s help to incorporate this important feedback into an updated General Plan Circulation Element. Please join us, as we work to capture the vision of the community in the current update effort!
Participants can register at https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJckfu2tqDguHde7wek4KAEu-Xu3-QDlON1a for the virtual workshop, hosted on Zoom.
The entire community is invited and encouraged to attend. If you are unable to make it, the workshops will be recorded and made available on www.newporttogether.com. Check it out and sign up to stay informed!
Ocean Piers Maintenance Inspections
As part of Public Works regularly scheduled maintenance work, the City is inspecting the above and below water components of the Newport and Balboa Piers. Divers will be inspecting each of the pier piles for damage and making note of any piles that may need future repair. The divers will be in the water around the two piers starting Monday, Feb. 8th and anticipate being completed in a week’s time.
Grant Howald Park Rehabilitation
The Grant Howald Park Rehabilitation has made great progress. The City’s contractor has completed the undergrounding trench work along Fifth Avenue and Goldenrod Avenue in anticipation of the utility company wiring and removal of poles. The grading and drainage of the multi-purpose synthetic field is almost complete and the turf will be installed in the next few weeks. Finally, the new playground equipment has been installed. There is still much to do, but the project is on schedule with a planned opening date in May. We thank the community for their patience throughout this process. To see a project time-lapsed video, please visit the Grant Howald Park project website: www.newportbeachca.gov/granthowaldpark.
Recreation & Senior Services Programs – Sign Up Now
The Recreation & Senior Services Department will resume outdoor programs and activities the week of February 8. The City website will be updated daily with fun filled activities, classes, fitness and more.
Active Kids and Marina Park Preschool childcare programs will remain operational as well as outdoor youth sports are permitted under the current safety guidelines. Parks, trails and sport courts are open as well as lap swim at Corona del Mar High School. OASIS personal training will resume on February 8 with outdoor classes starting February 22.
OASIS services, such as Meals on Wheels, transportation, and social services continue to remain operational. Community Centers remain closed to the public.
For more information on Recreation and Senior Service programs contact (949) 644-3151 or www.newportbeachca.gov/recreation.