By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
Though it’s too soon to tell if the trends will continue, there were some encouraging signs last week that the COVID-19 Delta variant surge may be flattening.
Orange County’s average daily case rate (COVID cases per 100,000 people) dropped to 18.6 this week, down from 22.2 last week. It was the first time in several weeks that we’ve seen a decrease in case counts (however, they are still high; as a point of reference, the current case numbers would have landed Orange County in the most restrictive purple tier under the state’s previous color-coded system).
The test positivity rate in Orange County dropped to 6.8 percent this week, down from last week’s 8 percent, and the health equity metric was down to 7.3 percent from last week’s 8.4 percent. Hospitalizations have improved as well in the County, decreasing from 592 on August 27 to 521 on September 2. Let’s hope these signs of progress continue into the fall.
Meanwhile, the OC Health Care Agency continues to strongly encourage residents to wear masks 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.
On August 26, the CDC issued a health advisory against use of the prescription medication ivermectin, normally used to treat certain infections caused by internal and external parasites, for the prevention or treatment of COVID-19. Currently, ivermectin has not been proven to prevent or treat COVID-19.
For most people, booster shots are not recommended at this time, and the County is not offering booster shots. Third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are only being offered to individuals ages 12 and up receiving treatments associated with moderate to severe immune compromise. These include cancer treatments, organ transplants, and patients receiving certain drugs that compromise the immune system.
The County’s daily, weekday update of COVID-19 case information is available at https://ochca.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/cc4859c8c522496b9f21c451de2fedae.
For those seeking vaccination options, please visit the HCA page at https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-distribution-channels.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of September 2, the total cumulative number of COVID- 19 cases in Newport Beach was 4,671, an increase of 69 cases from August 26. The total number of cases in Orange County as of September 2 was 286,536, an increase of 3,893 cases from August 26. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of September 2 was 265,973. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Delays are expected along East Coast Highway at Poppy Avenue from September 6 through September 17 for critical water pipeline work. The work requires the closure of one northbound lane of Coast Highway before Poppy Avenue, along with the left-turn lane. Work hours will be 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. City traffic operations staff will be monitoring the closure closely and adjusting traffic signal timing to help traffic flow. For questions, please call the City’s Public Works department at (949) 644-3311. The City appreciates your patience during this critical infrastructure repair.
Planning Commission Study Session Related to Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)
On Thursday, September 9, 2021, the City of Newport Beach Planning Commission will hold an in-person study session to review recommendations from City staff on potential code changes intended to reduce regulatory barriers, streamline the approval process, and expand the potential capacity of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs).
The City has recently prepared a Draft 2021-2029 Housing Element Update in response to the 6th Cycle Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocation of 4,845 new housing units assigned to Newport Beach.
Per State law, ADUs may be utilized to satisfy a portion of the City’s assigned RHNA allocation. Given high land values and limited opportunities for new residential growth, the City believes ADU development is a realistic strategy to help achieve assigned housing needs while protecting the character and quality of life.
Potential revisions may include, but are not limited to:
- Expanding opportunities for ADU construction in multi-unit developments;
- Reducing costs for ADU construction;
- Providing incentives for ADU development;
- Making ADU development more attractive for investors and developers;
- Reducing parking requirements; and
- Removing architectural design constraints.
Members of the public and interested parties are invited and encouraged to participate. The Planning Commission meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers starting at 6:30 p.m.
Community Rating System (CRS) Annual Recertification
The City has been designated as a Class 7 community in the Community Rating System (CRS) for its excellent work in the implementation of flood plain management policies and regulations that exceeds the minimum standards of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
Currently, City residents receive a 15 percent annual discount on all standard flood insurance policies totaling $79,505 in savings.
The annual recertification process is now underway, which validates the City’s commitment to maintain federal standards in flood mitigation through community outreach, construction standards, and storm water systems maintenance.
- City Net, the City’s contract homeless services agency, submitted Emergency Housing Voucher application packets for several clients. 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. Six 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 staff completed three Vulnerability Index Intake Assessments with people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach. The Vulnerability Index is used to screen clients to determine proper placement in the County’s Continuum of Care system. Some assessment factors include age, health issues, and length of time being unsheltered. Case managers will follow up with the clients to provide housing assessments and prepare documentation for housing.
- City Net completed three housing assessments with people enrolled in their services.
- Three people experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach were enrolled into City Net services. City Net case managers ordered identifying documents for them, such as birth certificates and Social Security cards.
- 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. This week, the woman obtained a new Social Security card, a Social Security Award Letter for an Emergency Housing Voucher, and CalFresh benefits.
- City Net helped a recently housed man set up an autopay system for rental payments, and enrolled him in a local substance abuse program.
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.