By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
There were two major developments at the County of Orange this week regarding the County’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
The first was the announcement that residents 65 and older can now receive the vaccine.
The second was the Wednesday opening County’s first SuperPOD (Point of Disbursement) site at Disneyland in Anaheim.
However, high demand for the vaccine quickly overwhelmed the registration system. County officials are urging patience as they improve the registration system and establish more distribution sites.
Here is some key information and resources as of January 15:
- 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 site.
- Appointments can only be made through the OTHENA vaccine scheduling website and smartphone application. To make a vaccine appointment, go to www.othena.com or download the app (it is currently available only on the Apple store, but County officials have told us that an Android version is coming soon).
- Anyone 65 and older can make an appointment and receive the vaccine. Because of the high volume of requests, you may have to revisit the Othena site multiple times to make an appointment. If you are under 65, please do not make an appointment or download the app.
- At this time, there are no community vaccine distribution centers in Newport Beach. Fire stations are not distributing the vaccine. Newport Beach Fire Department personnel are assisting in the County effort. Newport Beach may receive authorization from the County to host community clinics once the large County distribution sites have been established. Because the vaccine distribution effort is rapidly evolving, I encourage you to utilize the County’s online resources for the latest updates:
- The County’s main COVID-19 page can be reached here: https://coronavirus.egovoc.com/
- To go directly to the vaccine information page: https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-resources.
- For the latest vaccine FAQs, visit:
- For information on the distribution phases/tiers, visit: https://coronavirus.egovoc.com/covid-19-vaccination-distribution. It is important to note that the State and/or County determines when to move to the next phase or tier.
- For questions, call the Orange County vaccine hotline at (714) 628-7085.
As we wait for the vaccine distribution to ramp up, please stay vigilant. Orange County has now exceeded 200,000 total cases and is adding more than 3,000 new cases every day. Countywide ICU capacity is 0 percent. There are promising signs that new infections may be leveling off, but they remain at a very high rate. Continue to wear face coverings and wash hands frequently, and limit contact with those outside your household.
Also, please continue to shop local to support our small businesses. The current stay-at-home order presents serious hardships for many of our local, small businesses, and your support will be critical to their survival during these next few months.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of January 14, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 2,868 and the total cases in Orange County was 202,753. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of January 14 was 129,485. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health.
Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEUAC) Meeting January 20
On Wednesday, January 20, 2021, at 6 p.m., the City’s Housing Element Update Advisory Committee (HEAUC) will hold a meeting virtually via Zoom. With a packed agenda, the HEUAC is anticipated to do the following:
- Hear updates from the active subcommittees.
- Provide an opportunity to review and discuss progress draft documents that were shown at the December 2020 meeting.
- Receive an update from staff on the progress being made with receiving responses from property owners of properties identified by the Sites Subcommittee.
- Review and discuss a memorandum prepared by the Affordable Housing Subcommittee.
- Receive an overview of the anticipated schedule moving forward.
The agenda for this meeting will be posted online at https://www.newportbeachca.gov/Pln/Housing_Element_Update_Advisory_Committee/current_agenda.pdf. 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 check out 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.
Balboa Boulevard Project Progress Update
On January 4 work began again on the Balboa Boulevard Undergrounding project along with the adjacent Assessment District 111. As part of that effort Southbound Balboa Boulevard is closed at 32nd Street and motorists are being detoured to Newport Boulevard to avoid the work.
The underground contractor is constructing several vaults in the roadway over the next two months and digging some deep trenches that require the Southbound closure. Adjustments have been made to traffic signal timing to maintain a smooth traffic flow in the area.
Several changeable message signs have been implemented as a pre-warning to motorists, and they will remain in place during the closure. The closure was planned immediately after the holidays and during the lowest traffic period of the year to minimize traffic congestion. With the southbound lanes completely closed to traffic it will allow the contractor to get the work done quicker and avoid summer traffic issues.
In addition to the undergrounding work, the Balboa Boulevard Crosswalk improvement project is now substantially complete. GMC Engineering was the awarded contractor for this project on November 10, 2020. They began work on November 16 and finished two of the three phases just before Christmas. The contractor began work on the third and final phase on January 4 and are pleased to report they have already completed the effort.
The final step of installing the traffic signal poles will be sometime later this Spring when the poles are delivered. Both contractors coordinated well with each other and we are excited that the Balboa Crossing Project has been completed in such record time.
The Santa Ana River flows from the San Bernardino Mountains down to the Newport Pier. When a significant strong storm occurs, as with the recent storm at the close of 2020, accumulated debris from trees, bushes, and nuisance trash along the way end up at our beaches.
From the recent winter 2020 storm, approximately 150 cubic yards of debris that was scattered out from the River Jetty to the Newport Pier has been cleaned up. Our Public Works Beach Maintenance Crew continues to clean up and comb through the beaches utilizing beach cleaners, loaders, and dump trucks on a daily basis throughout the winter season. Our Beach Maintenance Crew is commended for a job well done!
New Ocean Boulevard Pebble Concrete Trash Cans
Public Works staff recently replaced the old Rubbermaid trash cans along Ocean Boulevard in Corona del Mar with 35 new pebble concrete trash cans. The new pebble concrete trash cans sit on concrete pads to accommodate the heavier and more durable cans. Anti-graffiti coating was added to the cans for easier clean-up and maintenance. Municipal Operations staff is working on standardizing our public trash can system in key areas of the City to help create a consistent theme and beautify the City.
Homeless Encampment Clean-up Efforts
Public Works staff continues to work with the Police Department when addressing the clean-up and storage of personal items from homeless encampments. On average, Public Works staff visits sites for clean-ups multiple times a week. These clean-ups can range from a trash bag full to four truckloads of trash and debris. Locations vary from abandoned lots, parks, sidewalks, parking lots, docks, and piers. Areas cleaned up are often pressure washed. Personal belongings are tagged with date and location and stored at the Corporation Yard for 60 days to be claimed.
Newport Beach Employees came together last week to help a couple in their 90s who were struggling with a variety of issues. Oasis Transportation staff regularly transport the couple to essential services and when not able to get in contact with them, requested a welfare check. The Police Department responded and found the couple in distress.
Additional staff from Fire, Animal Control and Code Enforcement jumped into action along with personnel from O.C. Health Care Agency’s Centralized Assessment Team to provide necessary support. Everyone worked together to address the couple’s mental and physical issues along with the substandard living conditions.
This was truly a team effort and had a positive and likely lifesaving outcome because so many employees went the extra mile and treated this couple with the care and dignity they deserve.
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.
- The City’s Homeless Liaison Officer transported a man from the Newport Pier area to a medical detoxification program last week. The man was homeless for 7 years in Newport Beach. He now resides in a sober living home in Riverside County and has reconnected with his children and grandchildren.
- City Net staff coordinated with the County’s Telehealth system to shelter a woman in a motel. The woman reunited with her family and now resides with them. Telehealth provides all- hours telephone access to board-certified medical staff. Telehealth may be reached at (855) 667-9722.
- City Net enrolled one person into their services. The case managers continue to work with the client to find appropriate housing.
- 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.