City, county officials respond to OC being added to watch list

his public domain illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. Note the spikes that adorn the outer surface of the virus, which impart the look of a corona surrounding the virion, when viewed electron microscopically. In this view, the protein particles E, S and M, also located on the outer surface of the particle, have all been labeled as well. A novel coronavirus, named Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. The illness caused by this virus has been named coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Artwork by Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM

The Seal Beach City Council was scheduled to hold a special closed session at 4 p.m., Wednesday, July 1, to discuss the governor’s to decision to add Orange County to the COVID-19 watch list, according to City Manager Jill Ingram. The council has been meeting in closed session every week to discuss the pandemic.

Details of the closed council meeting were not available by this week’s editorial deadline.

As many of you already know, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday, June 29, added four more counties to the watch list of counties with apparently increasing COVID-19 cases. Orange County was one of the new additions to the list of now 19 California.

“Today Orange County is reporting the largest number of COVID-19 cases to date,” said Orange County Supervisor m

Steel in a Tuesday, June 30 statement.

Steel is chair of the Board of Supervisors, represents of District 2 on the Board and lives in Seal Beach.

“779 COVID-19 cases will be reported today. These case counts are directly from CalREDIE, the State’s case reporting system, and reflect specimen collection dates spread out longer than two weeks. The most recent specimen collection date reflected in this report is from June 26th,” said Steel.

“The Interim County Health Officer is considering the issuance of health orders to close bars in Orange County if, in his medical opinion, it is appropriate to do so,” said Steel.

In related news, two Main Street bars have already closed. A Leisure World resident has died. (See story, page 1)

“The City will continue to be diligent in monitoring State and County public health official orders, guidelines, and information and how each of those factors may impact the City’s proactive measures and response to the pandemic,” Ingram wrote in an email to the Sun.

According to Ingram, the council will discuss the addition of OC to the watch list as well as other public health data to determine if the city needs to take further action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Seal Beach.

“It is imperative that residents, businesses, and visitors continue to do their part with social distancing and face coverings to hopefully prevent the County from being forced to once again close certain industry sectors in response to the increase in the number of cases,” Ingram wrote.

Seal Beach Police Chief Phil Gonshak said he would echo the city manager’s comments. Gonshak said he was hoping people would comply with the rules, laws and ordinances concerning the pandemic. He said the police were seeking compliance through education rather than enforcement.

“It’s too bad that we have come to this situation,” said District One Councilman Joe Kalmick in a June 29 phone interview.

“We’re looking at being asked to shut down again if the numbers don’t come down,” Kalmick said.

He said the only thing that seems to prevent the spread of the virus is social distancing.

“How hard is it to comply with this?” Kalmick asked.

According to Kalmick Seal Beach has had fewer COVID-19 cases than other communities. Kalmick said he thinks Seal Beach has done a pretty good job of following all the rules. However, he said he was troubled by the increase in case numbers.

As of Monday, June 29, the city of Seal Beach web reported 23 Seal Beach cases. (The June 30 data had not been posted on the website as of the Sun’s editorial deadline.) That figure doesn’t include cases at a skilled nursing facility Seal Beach Health and Rehabilitation, which the city reports separately. The Monday case count reported on the city website was 122 patients, 95 health care workers and 13 deaths.

The city of Seal Beach is getting the nursing home case data directly from the skilled nursing facility.

The Orange County COVID-19 dashboard reported five Seal Beach deaths. A note on the city website advises the public that case counts may differ between the Seal Beach and Orange County sites because of the time lag in reporting information from the state government to the county government.

As of Monday, June 29, the County of Orange reported 13,064 cumulative cases, 330 cumulative deaths of which four were reported that day, with 175 patients in intensive care units, and 7,193 cumulative recovered patients.

According to the Orange County COVID-19 dashboard, 41.3% of ICU beds were available in the county.

The county websites reported 68% of the ventilators are available.

Remember, all numbers are subject to change on short notice.

City still working on outdoor dining

In related news, even as two local bars closed, the city is going ahead with efforts to support Main Street food service businesses.

“City staff is currently working on finalizing the plans for the two temporary outdoor dining areas,” wrote Community Development Director Les Johnson.

“As you may already be aware, one dining area is to be placed within one of the City’s Electric Avenue parking lots and the other within a portion of Eisenhower Park, near the pier. The dining areas are scheduled to begin July 9th. Each location will be set up in the afternoon and conclude at sunset. Exact hours and number of days available each week will be dependent upon demand and resources available. Approximately 12-15 tables will be placed at each location and staff will be present to help maintain and sanitize the dining areas,” wrote Johnson.

Jeannette Andruss contributed to this story.