By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
This summer’s COVID-19 Delta variant surge appears to be stabilizing. In a welcome trend, Orange County’s key metrics have decreased slowly but steadily since late August.
This week’s average daily case rate for Orange County (the number of cases per 100,000 people) was 15.3, down from 16 last week and 18.6 earlier this month. The test positivity rate was 4.7%, down slightly from last week’s 5.4%, and the health equity metric was 5.1%, down from 5.8% last week.
Hospitalizations showed improvement as well: 446 on September 16, down from about 600 in late August.
To help ensure these trends continue, the OC Health Care Agency is strongly encouraging residents to maintain the use of face coverings in both indoor public and non-public settings. Masks are particularly encouraged among those who are immunocompromised or at increased risk for severe disease from COVID-19, or if they have someone in their household who is immunocompromised, at increased risk of severe disease, not fully vaccinated, or not yet eligible for vaccination.
Vaccinations – for both COVID-19 and the seasonal flu shot — are strongly recommended for all eligible residents to help avoid an additional surge this fall. Those seeking vaccination options can visit the HCA page at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of September 16, the total cumulative number of COVID- 19 cases in Newport Beach was 4,832, an increase of 49 cases from September 9. The total number of cases in Orange County as of September 16 was 292,450, an increase of 3,215 cases from September 9. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of September 9 was 275,757. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health. The County’s daily, weekday update of COVID-19 case information is available at https://ochca.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/cc4859c8c522496b9f21c451de2fedae.
Grand Opening for New Phases of Civic Center Park Sculpture Exhibition
The Sculpture Exhibition in Civic Center Park is an integral feature of the Newport Beach Civic Center. Civic Center Park, which turned nearly half a million square feet of undeveloped land into a new public park, was designed by renowned landscape architectural firm Peter Walker and Partners (PWP). The City Arts Commission determined that a rotating exhibition, in which pieces are loaned for a 2-year period, was an optimal approach to bring sculpture to the City in a cost-efficient manner. Admission is free and the exhibition continues to be enjoyed by residents and guests of all ages and sensibilities. The exhibition has become a “museum without walls” that offers the temporary display of public art in a unique, naturalistic setting. Moreover, the City is able to exhibit a well-balanced representation of public art, with artistic merit, durability, practicality, and site responsiveness as criteria in the selection of work. The rotational nature of the exhibit ensures that residents and guests are exposed to a variety of work.
Trellis International Grant
On September 14, 2021 City Council awarded a $30,000 grant to Trellis International (Trellis). Trellis is a non-profit organization based in Costa Mesa that works with the homeless and housing insecure to develop job skills necessary to re-enter the job market. Through this grant Trellis will provide four-person volunteer teams to conduct eight or more work projects each month for a one-year term. Projects are focused on areas within the City of Newport Beach that are currently not serviced by City staff or contractors. These projects may include cleaning up trash and debris from parks, roadsides, trails, and beaches; vegetation trimming and removal; removing or reporting graffiti and/or stickers on signs; and much more. Trellis undertook a cleanup effort on Monday, September 13, 2021 at Big Canyon Nature Park and was successful at filling two 50-gallon trash bags with trash and debris collected from the trails and parking lot.
City Refuse Programs
Public Works Department wants to remind everyone the importance of placing household trash and recycled materials in the proper containers. When bagged trash is not placed in the proper bin, our trash operators cannot determine if it is trash or recyclables, so everything has to go into the landfills. By separating trash materials into the proper containers, we are able to accomplish our State-mandated goals of cleaner recyclables. This results in higher diversion rates that will keep recyclable materials out of our landfills while keeping our neighborhoods clean.
Not only does putting everything into the proper bin help with better recycling, but it also helps keep neighborhoods clean. Loose items can be swept away by wind or washed down the alleys and streets and make their way into our waterways, polluting our environment. Boxes should always be broken down and placed into the recycling container to avoid excess clutter and litter. Bagged garbage placed outside the containers is also subject to vermin and pests, which creates an unsanitary environment and can attract other large animals, such as coyotes.
Putting everything in the containers also promotes efficiency in our collection operations. When everything is already in the can, the driver stays on the truck and utilizes the truck’s automated collection equipment, rather than having to stop the truck and exit the vehicle to load the excess materials. This reduces collection times and allows our team to finish their routes in a timely manner and get off the streets, improving traffic and air quality along the way.
Residents doing their part in putting everything in the can helps promote a safe, clean, and environmentally friendly community.
Mariners Park Improvements
Public Works and Recreation & Senior Services Departments coordinated the recent upgrades to the picnic and playground areas at Mariners Park. Public Works crews began by undertaking concrete repairs and replacement of the existing lifted and cracked picnic table pads, followed by the removal of the old recycled plastic picnic tables and the delivery of new concrete picnic tables from Quick Crete Products. Additionally, the existing sand play area was brought down to grade, irrigation was retrofitted, and new sod was installed. New pebble trash cans were placed throughout the park areas for the final touch. These improvements will last longer, provide safer walking areas, and are aesthetically pleasing for those who visit and utilize the park furniture.
High Surf Preparations
A three-day high surf event was forecast for the week of September 13. Public Works Crews reinforced the berms on both sides of Balboa Pier, along with access points from Balboa Pier to the Wedge, and Adams to 7th Streets. Berms were also built in West Newport from 40th to 52nd Streets. Crews were on stand-by with equipment during high tide peak. Even with high surf hitting the Wedge with heights reaching 16 feet, surf was contained with no major flooding. Good job with the preparations, crew!
- 16 people who had been experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach are now sheltered in the Costa Mesa Bridge Shelter.
- City Net, the City’s contract homeless services agency, ordered Social Security award letters for several clients matched to Emergency Housing Vouchers. Emergency Housing Vouchers are funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and allow people to pay affordable rent based on their fixed incomes. Nine people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach have been awarded vouchers so far and are working with a housing navigator to locate apartments. The voucher program is being administered by the Orange County Housing Authority.
- City Net completed Vulnerability Index Intake Assessments for a man experiencing homelessness in his vehicle in Newport Beach. The assessment is used to screen clients to determine proper placement in the County’s Continuum of Care system. Some factors include age, health issues, and length of time being unsheltered. Case managers will follow up with the client to provide housing assessments and prepare documentation for housing.
- City Net completed two housing assessments with people enrolled in their services. One person began the relocation process to rejoin his family.
- Staff continues to provide food gift cards, support, and case management to a person sheltering in a motel while she awaits placement into permanent, supportive housing with an Emergency Housing Voucher.
To donate to those experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach, please visit our Good Giving Program web page at https://newportbeachca.gov/trending/community-issues/homelessness/how-you-can-help.