By Grace Leung, Newport Beach City Manager
After weeks of rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, there was some good news last 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 46.6. The testing positivity rate dropped from 16.7% to 12.9%, and the health equity metric is also down this week, from 21.2% to 16.6%.
Those numbers are part of a statewide trend that prompted the California Department of Public Health to lift the regional stay-at-home order on Monday, January 25.
In Orange County, we have returned to the Purple Tier restrictions: Indoor hair and nail salons can reopen, along with outdoor dining and outdoor gyms, among others, under the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.
Orange County opened a second super vaccination site at Soka University in Aliso Viejo on Saturday, January 23, increasing the County’s ability to accommodate the high demand for COVID- 19 vaccines. The County reports that the Soka and Disneyland sites are now each administering 240 vaccines an hour, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week, to those in the 1A priority category (65 or older and healthcare workers).
By the end of January, more than 493,000 people registered with the Othena.com appointment scheduling platform, 81,324 people have received a vaccination, and 93,633 have scheduled vaccination appointments.
Still, we know that many residents throughout the County are frustrated with the challenges of scheduling an appointment through Othena. County officials are asking for patience as they improve the registration system and obtain more vaccine supply. Appointments are scheduled for no more than three days out as the County depends on the State for its supply of vaccine doses.
Newport Beach 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.
Newport Beach has more than 115 paramedics and EMTs trained to administer the vaccine, along with dozens of lifeguards and other City staff members trained to assist with the distribution effort. Newport Beach Fire Department staff successfully assisted with the one of the initial vaccine distribution sites in Huntington Beach, which vaccinated more than 10,000 people in late December and early January.
Visit https://occovid19.ochealthinfo.com for more information.
COVID-19 Cases in Newport Beach
As of January 28, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 3,249 and the total cases in Orange County was 228,297. The number of recovered COVID-19 patients countywide as of January 28 was 170,229. 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.
- Two people who are sleeping in their cars were enrolled into City Net services. One person fled a domestic violence situation and is seeking shelter, and the second lost her apartment after her partner passed away from COVID-19 and she could no longer pay the rent on one income. City Net is working with her to locate appropriate housing.
- 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 could not pay her full rent. She became homeless and lived in her car for two years after a divorce. She continues to work in Newport Beach and is interviewing for a second job to supplement her income.
- 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.
Recent Storm Event
The recent storm event produced strong winds, with gusts up to 50 mph. Public Works Department crew and contractors were called out to several tree-related calls and wind-blown sand on boardwalks, plazas, parking lots, and street ends.
Public Works Trees Maintenance crew and contractors responded to seven fallen trees; one was a private tree that was blocking public right-of-way. This storm event shows that the City trees are able to withstand strong winds as a result of the preventative maintenance performed by the City.
Our Beach Maintenance crew started the cleanup of the boardwalks and plazas for the bicyclists, and then proceeded to the parking lots and street ends. This clean-up usually takes up to two weeks.
Filled sandbags are available the day before rain events at the Corporation Yard for our residents. There is a limit of 10 per residence, with proof of Newport Beach residency. Hours for pick up and sandbag availability can be confirmed by calling (949) 644-3055.
January 23, 2021 Shred Event
The City held a shredding event at the City Corporation Yard on Saturday, January 23. The event took place from 8 a.m. until noon. Despite the rain, bags and boxes of documents were collected from 476 vehicles, with a total of 18,000 lbs. of paper collected for on-site shredding services. Staff welcomed residents, checked identification, and inquired where residents learned of the event. The information can be helpful for effectively communicating with residents regarding these types of events in the future.
The next shred event will be April 24 at the Harbor Day School parking lot located at 3300 Pacific View Drive, 8 a.m. to noon. The event will include the collection of e-waste material.
Making Progress in Residential Refuse and Recycling
On January 26, City Council approved staff to proceed with the preparation of an amendment to the residential solid waste franchise contract with CR&R to replace the two existing contracts for residential refuse. The amendment will combine the Newport Coast residential area with the rest of the City area. Additionally, the amendment will extend recycling service and introduce organic diversion to our residents. With the implementation of a full diversion program of source separation at the curb, the City will remain in compliance with the States mandatory recycling standards.
Fire Station No. 2 Groundbreaking
On Tuesday, January 26, four Newport Beach City Councilmembers broke ground at the new site of Fire Station No. 2.
Councilmembers Will O’Neill, Diane Dixon, Joy Brenner and Noah Blom joined Public Works Director Dave Webb, Deputy Director Jim Houlihan and Fire Chief Jeff Boyles for the short groundbreaking ceremony.
The new station will be located at the corner of 2807 Newport Boulevard and 28th Street and will replace the old Lido Fire Station No. 2 currently located at 32nd Street. The new station is anticipated to be completed in the spring of 2022.