As California experienced a significant rise in coronavirus cases over a two-day span, South Pasadena Fire Chief Paul Riddle on Wednesday night reported that 10 residents tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week since he last gave an update to the City Council.
Riddle joined SPPD Police Chief Joe Ortiz in providing the latest numbers and how they relate to South Pasadena at the conclusion of a special virtual council meeting mostly centered around the city’s budget.
As of June 25, there have been 148 cases of the virus reported in town, including 21 deaths (no change from a week ago), all at the South Pasadena Care Center on Mission Street, noted Riddle, where there have been 115 confirmed cases, including 84 residents and 31 staff members. Outside of the Care Center, the fire chief said there have been 64 cases in the community.
“What has been highlighted this week has been the significant increase both in the hospitalization rate as well as the positive infection rate, not only in the county but the state as well,” said Riddle. “So that points to the importance of continuing to maintain social distancing, trying to avoid large crowds and continuing to wear face coverings.”
A 69% increase in cases the state in just two days, raised concerns from governor Gavin Newsom and health officials as California continues to battle a surge of new infections and higher than usual hospitalization rate. An alarming jump in cases was reported as communities like South Pasadena reopened, lifting lockdown restrictions and stay-at-home orders.
Los Angeles County, a major hotspot, has more than 88,500 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, to lead the nation. Numbers have gone way up, going from 4,230 on Sunday to 7,149 by Tuesday. On Wednesday, the United States had its largest single-day spike of coronavirus.
South Pasadena City Hall began to partially reopen to staff last Monday as personal protective equipment was distributed to all city departments. Plastic barriers have been installed inside the building to protect workers and the public. Signage encouraging employees to social distance, along with other safety precautions, are now in place.
Staff is working in staggered shifts with predetermined start times. Those not at City Hall continue to telecommute from home.
Facemasks, per LA County, are required in all city facilities, except in workstations that are secluded, noted Riddle. “Prior to entering any city facility, there’s a symptom check that includes a temperatures for all city staff,” he said. “All city departments have been engineered to accommodate social distancing to include all workstations. There’s limited access in the break rooms, all copy rooms.”
In addition, cleaning disinfecting protocols are in place and the daily work schedule has been shortened to allow staff adequate time to properly clean their work areas, Riddle noting that efforts made by employees have been a “pretty seamless operation this week. There hasn’t been any major issues reported.”
South Pasadena Police Department
Ortiz, talking about procedures at the police department, noted that temperatures of employees continue to be checked before and after each shift. “Our employees are triaged by being asked a series of questions to ensure they are healthy,” he told the council.
The police chief also said the department continues to sanitize vehicles, workstations and common areas.
Officers continue to deploy (PPE) as required in an effort to keep others safe and healthy.
“We encourage all of our employees to wash their hands, not to touch their face, and socially distance,” stressed Ortiz, before saying, “There has been an increased number of first responders testing positive for COVID-19 in the San Gabriel Valley.”
He concluded by saying, “This disease has no boundaries and attacks all ranks.”