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Laguna Beach announces new safety measures amid COVID-19 concerns

The Laguna Beach City Council meets in person with plexiglass partitions in place on the dais at a meeting in April.
The Laguna Beach City Council meets in person with plexiglass partitions in place on the dais at a meeting in April. Members of the public who wish to attend public meetings in person will be required to wear a face covering while speaking in Council Chambers, and then they will have to exit after making their remarks. The meetings will also be accessible online via Zoom.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

With coronavirus case rates again on the rise in Orange County, Laguna Beach city officials have announced that a handful of safety measures are being put into place immediately.

Last week, both Laguna Beach Mayor Bob Whalen and City Manager Shohreh Dupuis alluded to the potential for some virus protocols to be brought back to continue the fight against the pandemic.

The latest policies were unveiled on Monday evening. The safety measures include the return to hybrid meetings, which allowed for limited in-person public participation.

Members of the public who wish to attend city meetings in person will be required to wear a face covering while speaking in Council Chambers, then exit after making their remarks. The meetings will also be accessible online via Zoom.

Plexiglass partitions will be installed on the dais to allow for city council members who are fully vaccinated, as well as those serving on commissions and boards, to participate in meetings without a mask while practicing physical distancing.

A mask mandate went into effect Tuesday when indoors at all city facilities, regardless of a person’s vaccination status.

Laguna Beach is also planning to require municipal employees to participate in weekly COVID-19 testing if they have not been fully vaccinated. The city would provide those tests for free, but Laguna Beach public information officer Cassie Walder said the details and logistics of that plan are still being developed.

The city retained the plexiglass partitions that were used earlier in the pandemic to allow for council members to return to the dais. There will be no additional costs associated with the installation of the protective dividers, according to city staff.

Walder added that the safety measures are being put into place now due to a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases throughout Southern California and the nation.

“The city of Laguna Beach will continue to protect the health, life and well-being of employees and the community as long as necessary,” Walder said.

Orange County reported 872 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, bringing the total number of cases seen in the county to 267,039 during the pandemic.

There have been 5,143 deaths attributed to the virus countywide, according to data collected by the Orange County Health Care Agency. That total includes two COVID-19 deaths over the weekend.

The number of hospitalizations in the county because of the virus is currently at 333. Sixty-two of those patients are being treated in intensive care units.

Orange County has an adjusted daily case rate of 12.7 cases per 100,000 residents and a testing positivity rate of 6.9%. That data is being recorded as a seven-day average with a seven-day lag.

“These additional measures will help protect the health and safety of the public and our employees against the spread of COVID-19,” Whalen said in a statement. “I want to thank the 70% of Laguna Beach city staff members who have already been vaccinated against COVID-19 and strongly encourage those who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible to protect their health and the health and safety of others.”

Here are the latest cumulative coronavirus case counts and COVID-19 deaths for select cities in Orange County:

  • Santa Ana: 45,908 cases; 876 deaths
  • Anaheim: 43,335 cases; 898 deaths
  • Huntington Beach: 11,781 cases; 218 deaths
  • Costa Mesa: 9,609 cases; 146 deaths
  • Irvine: 11,712 cases; 87 deaths
  • Newport Beach: 4,258 cases; 76 deaths
  • Fountain Valley: 3,761 cases; 88 deaths
  • Laguna Beach: 965 cases; six deaths

Here are the case counts by age group, followed by deaths:

  • 0 to 17: 28,509 cases; one death
  • 18 to 24: 37,084 cases; eight deaths
  • 25 to 34: 53,736 cases; 59 deaths
  • 35 to 44: 41,533 cases; 118 deaths
  • 45 to 54: 42,360 cases; 329 deaths
  • 55 to 64: 33,339 cases; 739 deaths
  • 65 to 74: 16,471 cases; 991 deaths
  • 75 to 84: 8,286 cases; 1,263 deaths
  • 85 and older: 5,537 cases; 1,635 deaths

Updated figures are posted daily at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/coronavirus-in-oc. Information on COVID-19 vaccines in Orange County can be found at occovid19.ochealthinfo.com/covid-19-vaccine-resources.

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