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PSA:  COVID-19

March 10, 2020

Welcome and Background

  • Good evening and thank you all for listening to this first of several special City public service announcements.
  • Tonight, I would like to speak to you about the novel coronavirus 2019 disease (also referred to as COVID-19), provide you with an update on what we know so far about the novel coronavirus, give you an update on what the City has done and is continuing to do to monitor this situation, and what the City’s next steps are.
  • Before I get too far into this announcement, I would like to emphasize that this is currently a very dynamic situation and the information we receive changes at a very rapid pace.
  • As we gain a deeper understanding of this disease and how it interacts in a real-world situation, not just in a controlled laboratory setting, you should expect responses and strategies to change and adjust accordingly.
  • We are constantly assessing, refining, and evaluating our approaches and strategies to address the information, updates, and guidance we receive from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and California State and local health departments.
  • We will continue to provide you with the most up-to-date information, including any changes or new developments in guidance, policies, and procedures from the CDC and our health departments.
  • Most importantly, do not panic.
  • We take the public health and safety of the entire community, young, old, and everyone in-between, with the utmost importance and reverence.
  • Decisions, strategies, and responses are carefully and thoughtfully evaluated to ensure we provide the best services possible to keep our community healthy and safe given the information we have at hand at the time.
  • And as I mentioned before, this is a dynamic and fluid situation and, as such, our response will change to reflect this as well.
  • As you may know, COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness.
  • Transmission can spread from person to person through coughing and sneezing, close personal contact, or by touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands after touching an infected surface.
  • Symptoms range from mild to severe.
  • Most common signs and symptoms include fever, cough, and shortness of breath.
  • The time from exposure to symptom onset ranges from two to 14 days.
  • Over the last 8 weeks, the City and City Staff have closely followed the developments of COVID-19.
  • The City regularly participates in weekly briefing phone calls co-hosted by Los Angeles County Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • These weekly phone calls are aimed specifically for City administrators and Elected Officials and are used to disseminate factual information about the virus, update active cases and spread of the virus, and provide assistance and guidance to local governments to plan and prepare for COVID-19 and improve their ability to respond if a local outbreak should occur.
  • The Avalon Fire Department also participates in weekly briefing geared specifically for emergency and first responders.
  • The City also meets regularly with leaders at:
    • the Catalina Island Medical Center
    • Catalina Express
    • Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
    • Los Angeles County Fire Department
    • Los Angeles County lifeguards (Baywatch Avalon)
    • the U.S. Coast Guard
    • the Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau
    • the Catalina Island Company
    • the Catalina Island Conservancy
    • and other collaborative partners to share information, develop a coordinated emergency response plan, and implement best practices to reduce our community’s health risk
  • The Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce has developed a webpage with information from the CDC about the coronavirus and is working with our business community to develop enhanced cleaning procedures and adopt policies to encourage employees to stay home if they become ill.
  • The Catalina Island Medical Center, our community’s hospital, has implemented temporary, enhanced patient screening procedures to minimize exposure and assess all individuals entering the facility for COVID-19.
  • The Catalina Express has adopted enhanced cleaning processes and procedures, using stronger disinfectants, and providing increased access to hand sanitizers.
  • Long Beach Unified School District continues to send out updates to parents in our community about novel coronavirus and any potential impacts to our children’s education.
  • At the City, we continue to reach out to our regional, state, and federal partners.
  • City Staff are actively working with:
    • the League of California Cities
    • Los Angeles County Public Health
    • Los Angeles County Fire
    • the City of Long Beach and Long Beach Public Health
    • regional destination city governments
    • the CDC
    • the U.S. Coast Guard
    • Our City Attorney’s Office, BB&K
    • the California State Public Health Department
    • the White House
    • and many more to continue to monitor, assess, and evaluate a coordinated and informed response
  • Recently, the CDC issued a travel advisory.
  • This travel advisory advises the elderly and persons with existing health conditions to defer all cruise ship travel worldwide as well as to avoid crowded places, and non-essential travel such as long plane trips.
  • Senior citizens and persons with underlying health conditions have been identified as a group at higher risk of serious symptoms if infected with the novel coronavirus.
  • Throughout these developments, we continue to remain in close, regular communication with our local, state, and federal partners as well as the cruise ship industry (including the Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises).
  • The cruise ship industry has implemented enhanced screening protocols for all crewmembers and passengers.
  • These include mandatory thermal scans and temperature checks before boarding and onboard.
  • Mandatory questionnaires about each passenger and crewmembers recent health and travel history.
  • And passport and visa checks for visits to banned countries.
  • If any passenger or crewmember fails to pass any of these checks at any stage, they are immediately referred to a doctor for further evaluation.
  • A doctor then makes a determination whether to allow a crewmember or passenger onboard or turn them away and refer them to the City or County for further medical evaluation and testing.
  • Any ship (including commercial ships) at sea that suspects any crewmember or passenger of having novel coronavirus (or other reportable health concerns), are mandated to notify the U.S. Coast Guard who then contacts the CDC and local authorities.
  • The ship is then placed in a holding pattern until they receive further instructions from the CDC.
  • Additional instructions could include continuing to the nearest port for passenger transport to the CDC Quarantine site at LAX for further evaluation.
  • City and Los Angeles County emergency responders continue to remain in close contact with the U.S. Coast Guard and CDC for any changes to federal and state procedures.
  • Additional information from the CDC about the novel coronavirus disease, travel information, and cruise ships are available by going to their website at cdc.gov.
  • We will continue to provide regular updates and information on the City’s website and Facebook accounts, at regular City Council meetings, at additional public service announcements, and, as needed, at Special City Council meetings.
  • Information on the City’s website can be found by going to cityofavalon.com forward slash coronavirus.
  • Please, use these resources and information provided by the City
  • I know that there is a lot of anxiety caused, in part, to misinformation and rumors.
  • If you are anxious, have read something on Facebook or another social media site, heard something from a friend, please, please, talk to our City Manager Denise Radde or our Assistant City Manager Michael Parmer.
  • They can answer any questions or look into any concerns.
  • Finally, I would like to remind everyone in our community to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus by:
    • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
    • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
    • If soap and water is not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
    • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    • And last, if you are sick, stay home and practice self-isolation (quarantine).
  • Next week, at the City Council meeting on Tuesday night, there will be a presentation from a doctor at the Catalina Island Medical Center on the novel coronavirus.
  • Thank you all for listening to this message and good night.