Newport Beach Fire Chief Gives COVID-19 Update at City Council Meeting

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Newport Beach Fire Chief Jeff Boyles addresses the City Council

The City of Newport Beach has had 793 overall positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began, with six deaths, according to information presented to the Newport Beach City Council by Fire Chief Jeff Boyles during a council meeting on July 28.

“The first case was on March 25,” Boyles told the city council. “Hoag is reporting their COVID admits have been slightly down from this week to last week. Emergency room admits from COVID are down from last week. They do have surge capacity ready to go if needed. Interesting to note that they did not get a noticeable spike in patients from Fourth of July activities.”

Chief Boyles noted that in Orange county overall, the number of hospitalized COVID patients is down 13.8 percent over the past 14 days, and the number of ICU admits is down 15.5 percent over the past 14 days. Forty percent of ICU beds remain available, and 58 percent of ventilators remain available.

“With our fire department, we have responded to 494 of what we call our advanced precaution calls,” said Chief Boyles. “We have transported 39 known positive patients in the back of our ambulances to Hoag Hospital, 17 of which were in the month of July, so we did see a little spike in those.”

Chief Boyles added that “It’s been widely publicized that we had some firefighters test positive along with some lifeguards—10 total firefighters and 13 lifeguards. We quarantined 39 firefighters over the month of July. As of this morning, 36 of the 39 are back on full duty. Tree more are awaiting clearance.”

Councilmember Kevin Muldoon asked Chief Boyles about the statistics, saying “to clarify, we have had 793 cases since the pandemic began, and most have recovered. And for the city, no staffing issues or concerns?”

“No, we have not shut down any lifeguard towers, and all the fire stations and apparatus have remained open,” replied Chief Boyles. “It was just an issue of quarantining. Everything has remained open.”

Councilmember Joy Brenner

Councilmember Joy Brenner asked about the Junior Lifeguard Program this summer, with Boyles stating that “we are about two weeks of wrapping up already. The program has gone on with a robust population of kids, over 1,200 of them.”

Other COVID-19 updates included an overview of the city’s Back to Business program, which allows businesses to expand outdoors.

Seimone Jurjis, Community Development Director for Newport Beach, told the council his department has issued 69 permits to restaurants, with another eight being processed.

“We have dedicated a lot of staff resources,” Jurjis said, who added that businesses are barely surviving and need a lot of assistance.

Councilmember Brenner said she has been asked by business owners if council would consider outdoor expansions after the emergency is over. Jurjis told her that the new outdoor ordinance has a 14-day buffer, and businesses have 14 days after the ordinance is sunsetted to bring everything back indoors. At the moment they are not looking at the possibility of extending it.

“I think this is one of the many success stories in Newport Beach,” said Mayor Pro Tem Brad Avery. “It’s saved a lot of folks from stressful times, they can still operate and get income going and bring employees back.”

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