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Huntington Beach recloses City Hall in response to COVID-19 spike, though county cases, deaths decline

Huntington Beach City Hall
Huntington Beach will close its City Hall to the public for the second time since mid-March in response to a recent spike in Orange County COVID-19 cases, though county officials reported a slight dip Monday.
(File Photo)

Huntington Beach will close its City Hall to the public for the second time since mid-March in response to a recent spike in the number of Orange County COVID-19 cases, though county officials reported a slight dip in cases Monday.

Officials said Friday the city would be modifying operations as a proactive health and safety measure, effective Monday. While city business will continue to provide service, public access to City Hall, the Huntington Beach Police Department and “most other facilities” would be discontinued.

“All departmental operations will remain fully staffed, and the city will improve and expand the use of digital and telephone services to meet the community’s needs remotely,” staff said in a release.

Meanwhile, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported Monday 560 new coronavirus cases and only a single death from COVID-19, for a countywide cumulative total of 29,986 cases and 493 deaths.

A reported 7,443 tests were issued Monday with an overall positivity rate of 13.2% — a slight decline from last week, when about 14.6% of all the tests given in Orange County came back positive.

A total of 666 people were being treated in hospitals, and 213 in ICU units, the agency confirmed. Currently, about 41% of all the ICU beds in the county were available, as were 61.5% of respirators.

Huntington Beach Pier on Friday, June 26, 2020.
Huntington Beach city officials announced City Hall would reclose as of July 20 in response to a recent spike in Orange County COVID-19 cases. Beaches and parking lots will remain open.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Huntington Beach spokeswoman Catherine Jun said Monday City Hall initially closed on March 18 but was reopened to limited in-person services on June 29 with additional safety precautions in place, including regular disinfection, mask wearing, distancing and temperature checks.

“Unfortunately, with the spike in case, we’ve had to pull back on these efforts and close our facilities to limit interactions that can spread COVID-19,” Jun said. “As one of the counties on the state’s monitoring list, we felt it was critical to do our part by reimplementing closures to prevent gatherings that could spread COVID-19 and endanger the lives of visitors and employees.”

While City Hall will be closed once more, some services will continue to operate in a limited, socially distanced capacity, the release indicated. Central Library will offer book pickup and drop-off, while some recreational programs and the city’s Junior Lifeguard program will be maintained.

Beaches will not be affected by Monday’s closure, and the public can continue to purchase beach parking passes at 103 Pacific Coast Highway. The Huntington Beach City Council and Planning Commission will continue to meet with protocols in place, and city commissions and committees will resume meetings in a largely digital medium, the release indicated.

“As [coronavirus] cases rapidly increase, the city encourages all residents and visitors to diligently practice social distancing and use face coverings to prevent infections,” it continued.

In a similar announcement made July 10 the city of Newport Beach announced it would reclose its City Hall as of July 13. Officials at Costa Mesa had been working to reopen the city’s civic center in June but never did, while Laguna Beach city services are currently open, according to the city’s website.

Among Orange County residents who’ve been infected with the coronavirus, an estimated 14,366 are thought to have recovered. People between the ages of 25 and 34 continue to comprise the most affected group, with 6,907 cases (23%), followed by those aged 45 to 54, with 4,903 cases (16.4%) and people aged 35 to 44 (16.2%).

Here are the latest cumulative case counts and deaths for select cities in Orange County:

Santa Ana: 5,610 cases; 130 deaths

Anaheim: 5,134 cases; 123 deaths

Huntington Beach: 1,462 cases; 43 deaths

Irvine: 1,000 cases; eight deaths

Costa Mesa: 946 cases; six deaths

Newport Beach: 719 cases; three deaths

Fountain Valley: 302 cases; eight deaths

Laguna Beach: 113 cases; fewer than five deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. For information on getting tested, visit occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-testing.

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