By Grace Leung, City Manager of Newport Beach
As the increase in COVID-19 cases driven by the Omicron variant continues, the City has temporarily altered some of our operations to ensure that we continue to maintain all services to the community.
As of January 3, we have temporarily closed City Hall to the public, moving some in-person services only online and by phone. Our permit counters continue to serve customers with drop-off bins placed outside City Hall, which were used under previous COVID protocols.
Municipal libraries are open, but no in-person meetings or programs will be held at the libraries until further notice. Payment of bills and other income transactions will be made online and over the phone. Leisure classes will continue as planned; community centers will be limited to program participants only.
The January 11 city council meeting will be in person and open to the public, with the community hall open for additional seating.
Our top priority is to retain staff so that services and levels of service to the community continue during this time.
We anticipate that these protocols will be in place at least until mid-January. However, we are closely monitoring the Omicron COVID outbreak in consultation with health officials at Hoag Hospital and County, and will adjust as necessary.
The Orange County public health care agency highlighted the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak this week, noting that cases are reaching levels never seen before during the pandemic.
The county reports that between December 30 and January 5, the average rate of seven-day COVID-19 cases in Orange County fell from 25.5 to 67.5 per 100,000 people and the average number daily COVID-19 cases increased from 822 to 2,179. The positivity rate also increased from 6.5 to 16.2%, hospitalizations from 453 to 673 and intensive care admissions from 89 to 114 per day .
The majority of people hospitalized with COVID-19 continue to be among those not vaccinated, at 87%. In addition to getting the vaccine, residents and visitors to Orange County are encouraged to take the following preventative measures against COVID-19:
- Get tested 24 hours before and 3 to 5 days after collection or travel. The self-collection and at-home COVID-19 test kits are available free of charge to people who work or live in Orange County, and can be ordered online at ochealthinfo.com/covidtest. An email address is required for each person requesting a test kit. Each kit comes with a prepaid return shipping label and results are provided within 24-48 hours of sample receipt.
- People without symptoms, or who have mild symptoms and are at low risk of serious illness, should not go to a hospital or emergency room to get tested. Hospitals focus on people who are sick and in need of urgent care. Rapid tests are currently rare nationwide; people who need faster test results are encouraged to check with their health care provider or local retail pharmacy for the availability of rapid tests.
California mask term extended until February 15:
According to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), universal indoor masking is now mandatory until February 15, 2022 to slow the spread of COVID-19.
For comprehensive advice on effective masks as well as tips for improved fit and protection, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Get-the-Most-out-of-Masking.aspx.
For other frequently asked questions about the state’s universal masking mandate, visit https://www.cdph.ca.gov/Programs/CID/DCDC/Pages/COVID-19/Face-Coverings-QA.aspx.
Follow COVID-19 Safety Precautions:
- Limit or avoid large gatherings, especially indoors
- Keep a safe distance from other people who might not be vaccinated
- Wash and sanitize your hands often and thoroughly
- Provide good ventilation by keeping doors and windows open
- Regularly monitor the symptoms of COVID-19; and
- Stay home if you are sick
Recommendations for Pfizer Booster and Primary Supplementary Doses
On January 4 and 5, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the following recommendations for the administration of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine:
- As a booster dose in people aged 12 to 17
- As a booster dose 5 months after the primary vaccination, for people 12 years of age and over
- As a third additional primary dose for children with moderately or severely immunocompromised ages 5-11 years, 28 days after their second dose
The recommendations apply only to the Pfizer vaccine, not to Moderna or Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccines.
Vaccines continue to be widely available throughout Orange County for same-day and future walk-in appointments. People who have not yet been vaccinated or boosted against COVID-19, or who are eligible for a third dose (due to an immune deficiency) are encouraged to visit a local pharmacy or health care provider, or to go online for www.vaccins.gov, www.MyTurn.ca.gov Where www.Othena.com to make a vaccination appointment.
For more information on COVID-19 information and resources, including the number of cases, vaccination and testing in Orange County, visit www.ochealthinfo.com/covid.
COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach
As of January 6, the cumulative total number of COVID-19 cases in Newport Beach was 5,415, an increase of 1,348 cases since December 16. The total number of cases in Orange County as of January 6 was 368,432, an increase of 50,050 cases since December 16. The number of COVID-19 patients recovered across the county as of January 6 was 311,519. These figures are provided to Orange County by the California Department of Public Health. The county’s daily update of information on COVID-19 cases is available at https://ochca.maps.arcgis.com/apps/dashboards/cc4859c8c522496b9f21c451de2fedae. Free Christmas tree pickup continues until January 15
If you would like to pick up and recycle your Christmas tree for free, please remove all lights, ornaments and bases, and place the tree near your garbage carts on the same day as your regular collection service by January 15th. The trees must be six in number. feet or less, so you may need to cut trees taller than six feet.
Sculpture exhibition at Civic Center Park, Phase VII – Public survey
The City of Newport Beach Arts Commission is inviting community members to vote on the final selection of sculptures for Phase VII of the rotating exhibit at Civic Center Park. Facilitated by Arts Orange County, the public inquiry is open to Newport Beach residents only and will remain open until January 10.
The sculptures selected for public voting were chosen by the City Arts Commission and curatorial jury members May Sun, independent artist and professor at the California Institute of the Arts, and Brian Peterson, muralist, former industrial designer at the Kia Design Center America, and founder of the nonprofit, The Faces of Santa Ana.
The panelists discussed the criteria for the artwork under consideration and reviewed the sculpture applications. The panel assessed the works in four critical areas (artistic merit, durability, practicality and suitability of the site), then selected works of art of different sizes, mediums and subjects for the online public inquiry.
The public vote will select the last ten sculptures that will be installed for phase VII of the sculpture exhibition. These sculptures will be reviewed by City Council at the regular meeting on February 8 for final approval. The selected sculptures will be loaned to the City of Newport Beach for two years. Sculptors, whose works are chosen for installation in Civic Center Park, will receive a small fee.
The City is responsible for the installation of works of art, while artists are responsible for the maintenance and repair of their works. The outdoor exhibit draws audiences of all ages, including schoolchildren, the local community, and visitors from Southern California and beyond.
Take the online public survey to vote for your favorite sculpture on https://www.sparkoc.com/nb_sculpture_poll.
Balboa Boulevard Median Improvements Underway
Construction of the Balboa Boulevard Median Improvement Project is now underway. The City’s contractor, Green Giant Landscape, will rebuild the medians on Balboa Boulevard from 12th Street to Medina Way by May 2022. Construction is expected to be completed before the busy summer season. The improvements include widening the existing raised embankments, installing new median landscaping, new irrigation system and new median landscaping, sealing the pavement with mud, l ” installation of new road signs and traffic lanes and the adjustment of public services to ground level. Temporary parking restrictions and lane closures will be in place to facilitate construction activities.
These mid-point improvements are a continuation of the improvements previously made in 2017 on Boulevard Balboa between 21st Street and 12th Street.
In addition, a separate utility construction contract will also be pending in the same neighborhood. Asplundh Construction will install fiber optic lines on Balboa Boulevard.
- 20 people who were homeless in Newport Beach are now staying at the Costa Mesa Bridge shelter.
- City Net, the city’s homeless service agency, has helped several clients obtain emergency housing vouchers. Emergency Housing Vouchers, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, allow people to pay affordable rent based on their fixed income. Nine homeless people in Newport Beach received vouchers. The voucher program is administered by the Orange County Housing Authority. City Net helps Newport Beach clients complete necessary paperwork, obtain bank statements, visit potential rental apartments, and more.
- City Net completed housing paperwork for two people who were granted housing opportunities through the county’s coordinated care system. The coordinated entry system matches people with permanent housing options according to their needs and income.
- City Net completed an application with a client to obtain a permanent resident card as an identification document for navigation in the accommodation.
- City Net connected a newly housed individual with housing stabilization services to ensure a successful transition.
- Staff continue to provide food gift cards, support and case management to those staying in motels pending placement in permanent supportive housing with emergency housing vouchers.
To donate to those experiencing homelessness in Newport Beach, please visit our Good Giving Program webpage at https://newportbeachca.gov/trending/community-issues/homelessness/how-you-can-help.