Parks Closed Sunday; City Eyes Next Steps

South Pasadena joined the county and neighboring cities this week in closing public parks on Mothers’ Day this coming Sunday to pre-empt the potential for family gatherings that would likely run astray of social distancing requirements imposed to impede the COVID-19 pandemic.
The city announced the closure on Monday this week, citing consistency with Los Angeles County’s decision in its statement. South Pasadena had similarly closed its parks for Easter Sunday in anticipation of family gatherings crowding to the park for respite from the isolation created by the pandemic. The South Paws-adena Dog Park, the Skate Park, the Arroyo Seco Trails and Horse Trail, and the tennis courts at Orange Grove and Garfield parks remain closed indefinitely.
Those indefinite closures may see a sunset date soon, however, as Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday floated the possibility of reopening certain nonessential businesses and public spaces as early as today, with certain restrictions in place.
“We’ve turned a corner and are now refocused on reopening and recovery,” City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe explained at last week’s COVID-19 briefing to the City Council.
County governments are expected to meet certain testing and tracing capabilities before they can start easing their restrictions, the governor added, which often line up with the state’s mandates but can exceed them. L.A. County, for example, is not likely to reopen as rapidly as other counties because its density has resulted in a more concentrated outbreak.
“That’s just the reality of the statistics we have in our county,” DeWolfe said.
“As it stands right now,” Fire Chief Paul Riddle explained at the briefing, “we have reached stability in terms of hospitalization, but the goal, as the governor has said, is to reach sustained reduction in hospitalizations and prevent any future surge of patients. Right now, there is no projected shortages in hospital beds, ICU beds or ventilators at this time.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 97 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among South Pasadena residents among 248 total tests for the disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus that emerged late last year in China and has spread virtually worldwide. Governments and school districts statewide began widespread shutdowns and restrictions on business and public gathering shortly after the disease was declared a global pandemic on March 11.
Additionally, the county has reported 12 deaths from COVID-19, in South Pasadena, all of which are associated with residents at the South Pasadena Care Center, which has reported a total of 78 residents and 29 employees being diagnosed with the disease. Countywide, just
shy of half the death toll of 1,367 comprises residents of skilled nursing facilities or other institutional residences.
“In the case of a skilled nursing facility, the residents would be counted in the city in which the facility is located, although the staff would be counted in which city they live,” Riddle said. “What’s been pointed out is that’s only as accurate as the lab slip that’s filled out the test is registered for, so there is an error percentage there in terms of the possibility of some staff being counted in the city in which they work rather than the city in which they live.”
Riddle said the county has been able to provide the Care Center with N95 masks and has also ordered protective gowns for its staff. The fire department is working to connect the Care Center with private vendors, should the need arise, Riddle added.
“One of the biggest needs for all of these facilities remains the need for medical-grade personal protective equipment, or PPE,” he continued. “There’s been a lot of questions from our community as to how can they help and where can they donate. I just want to be clear that the need is for medical-grade PPEs for staff — that would include N-95 masks and gowns — and surgical masks would be for the residents to help contain the spread within the facility.”
Riddle said that the Care Center has around 100 residents and said staffing levels have been adequately maintained in spite of outbreak there. Because the case number reflects a positive diagnosis, it won’t account for those who have recovered and returned to work.
“There would be a percentage of that number that has returned back to work,” Riddle said, of the Care Center’s diagnosed employees.
These figures are gathered from various portals on the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s website, which are updated daily. The county records cases by permanent residence, which leaves at least 19 of South Pasadena’s cases outside of the Care Center.
In a post on the city’s blog,
City Hall Scoop, Riddle outlined a variety of easily obtainable items to create a home-prep kit to help treat and monitor symptoms should you become infected with COVID-19.
These items include household cleaning disposable gloves, nonmedical-grade face coverings or masks, a thermometer, a pulse oximeter, tissue paper, throat lozenges, immune system vitamins, over-the-counter fever reducers, electrolyte-replacement drinks or drink mixes, disposable disinfecting towelettes and a logbook to track daily symptoms and temperatures. All of these items, Riddle noted, can be found at local pharmacies
and convenience stores.
“You should have them ahead of time,” the fire chief emphasized.
In terms of reopening South Pasadena’s commercial sector, DeWolfe emphasized that the
city would work with county officials to ensure that businesses are allowed to return in as safe and sensible way as possible.
“The important thing in the success of this next phase is everyone’s confidence in the level of safety we are providing,” she said. “In order for people to go back to the stores and the restaurants, they must believe that they will be safe when they are there.
If it doesn’t feel safe and there’s no demand created, reopening will mean nothing.”
Though the county’s “Safer
at Home” directive is set to lift on May 15, it’s almost certain that the Board of Supervisors will enact an extension of it in some form. The state’s mandates are also expected to continue in some capacity.
“They both are also clear that the orders will not be just lifted,” DeWolfe said. “The orders will be modified or amended in order to protect public safety. Really, the goal is to minimize risk until we have broad scale immunity or vaccinations.”