Supervisor Barger Addresses Chamber of Commerce

The Burbank Chamber of Commerce hosted a virtual chat on Thursday with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who addressed COVID-19, the economic fallout from the pandemic and protests.
Barger wanted to clarify statistics pertaining to the coronavirus and assure the chamber and public that the county is hard at work to help the local economy recover from businesses shutting down because of the Safer at Home directives.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger

“This pandemic has truly been devastating to the health and economy of the county, as you all know,” she said. “ … The county and its residents have done a great job in flattening the curve, and I know it’s been painful for many people. By all accounts we have kept the case numbers low, prevented our health-care system from being overwhelmed and are moving into the stages of recovery.”
There has been a recent spike in COVID-19 cases, increasing the total number to 68,875 and 2,813 deaths as of June 11.
However, Barger attributed the surge in cases to the fact that more people are getting tested and the spread rate has gone down.
“Prior to the civil unrest, the spread rate for every one person that was positive was less than one person that would come in contact and possibly get it,” said Barger, who also informed the chamber the positive rate has remained at 8%. “At the beginning of Safer at Home, for every one person who had COVID, it was spread to about five people. So we truly did slow it down.”
She did express concern for a possible increase in coronavirus cases with the recent protests.

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‘Slow Streets’ Modifications, Social Distancing Discussed By City Council

Councilmen Ara Najarian (left) and Dan Brotman debated the merits of “slow streets” enhancements on Tuesday night.

In the immediate future, the city will explore implementing what are called “slow streets” modifications in a variety of neighborhoods, which will be aimed at giving pedestrians and cyclists extra cushion as they cross into roadways to keep distance from those on sidewalks.
Longer term, officials will target other areas for demonstration projects, which would essentially be a temporary test run to see if it’s worth the fuller investment in installing pedestrian- and bike-friendly enhancements throughout the city. The City Council agreed to both items on Tuesday as part of a broader discussion on how to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for residents.
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Council Crafts Outdoor Facilities Reopening Amid Social Distancing

The Burbank City Council confirmed the extension of social distancing rules to match those of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and reviewed possible reopening dates for outdoor areas during its virtual meeting on Tuesday.
The confirmation of the social distancing order, first issued by City Manager Justin Hess on April 23, will mirror L.A. County’s extension of its “Safer at Home” order to the same day, which also keeps Burbank eligible for potential state and federal reimbursement and aid for costs brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
After Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state’s transition into Stage 2 of reopening procedures on May 4, L.A. County and Burbank began allowing certain retail businesses to reopen for curbside pickup. In a staff report on Tuesday, Fire Chief Eric Garcia emphasized that though Burbank is working on its own set of initiatives to further reopen, the city will not go beyond the county’s guidelines.
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As Local Shops Reopen, Curbside, COVID-19 Cases Monitored

As local businesses attempt a partial reopening after nearly two months of shuttered operations due to the pandemic measures, city officials said this week they continue to look to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health for direction on how to safely — and slowly — encourage businesses back to usual.
After the state and L.A. County released succinct updates last week as to how they will begin relaxing the “Safer at Home” order over the next few months — with certain types of businesses permitted to resume operations strictly for curbside pickup — a statement on Tuesday from Public Health briefly threw those plans in doubt after it was mistakenly reported the order will be extended through the summer.
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City Council Analyzes Budget Proposal at Special Meeting

Michele Flynn
Director of Finance

City councilmembers aired skepticism at what they deemed to be a relatively upbeat outlook for the upcoming fiscal year, which will assuredly be marred by the continuing market slide and volatility as a result of the pandemic.
Uncertainty, city officials asserted, ultimately plagued any previously reliable projection techniques, which means that the City Council and city administrators are going to have to be much more hands-on in adjusting the bottom line throughout the year once they agree on a budget. The City Council took its first look at what the soon-to-come budget proposal will be at a special meeting Tuesday morning.
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AbilityFirst Supports Clients Working on Front Lines

Rafael Vera just began his new job at Smart & Final when measures to curb the spread of coronavirus hit. Since then, with support from AbilityFirst, he’s been working hard to keep the store stocked.

In recent weeks, grocery store employees have been working harder than ever to accommodate the increased demand triggered by “Safer at Home” policies to slow the spread of coronavirus.
One such employee, Rafael Vera, is a client with AbilityFirst who began his new job at Smart & Final the week the pandemic broke in California and local officials announced measures to encourage residents to stay at home.
Vera, 30, said he is proud to be working on the front lines as a sales clerk and happy to be helping the public during this trying time.
“We’re super busy, it’s hard to determine when exactly it will get very, very busy, but it’s always hectic on the weekends,” said Vera, who’s grown accustomed to wearing a mask and a double layer of gloves to work at the front-end of the store, restocking items and cleaning carts and door handles.
“I try to give people a good experience and brighten up their day; I really enjoy helping people out in general,” he said.
Vera, a Pasadena High School graduate, first came to his job at Smart & Final through the AbilityFirst supported employment program, which gives guidance in building a resume and filling out applications, as well as job training and valuable life skills like time management.
From the beginning, program officials were able to determine that Vera had the ability to work and a natural interest in connecting with others. However, he didn’t quite know how to start the process of getting a job, and he would feel anxious anytime he needed to ask questions. Before he could begin applying to jobs, he needed to get comfortable with the application process.
Since Vera enjoys being around people, his job developer at AbilityFirst helped him look for job openings that involve interacting with the public. He also worked on tools to increase his prospects, like studying math so that he would be able to use a cash register.
AbilityFirst CEO Lori Gangemi said part of the secret success of its job placement is that the nonprofit takes a very individualized approach to all its programs, including supported employment.
AbilityFirst, an organization that advocates for and alongside people with developmental disabilities and their families, has helped more than 500 people with disabilities find employment over the years and has supported even more in successfully maintaining their jobs.
“Our staff work closely with clients to determine their strengths as well as their desires and matches those with positions available with prospective employers,” she said, adding that they identify jobs through traditional methods as well as with the help of board members and other supporters. “Our clients are good, reliable workers because their skills and desires have been matched well with the job and because of the strong support they receive on the job from AbilityFirst job coaches.”
For Vera, even though he knew what kind of job he would like, he needed to train for the interview process by doing mock interviews to gain confidence in answering and asking questions. That also helped him create a daily check list, including dressing properly and making eye contact.
Taking a rest from his busy schedule in the break room recently, Vera said how much he appreciates AbilityFirst helping him find this job.
“I came to AbilityFirst through the regional center — it’s a great organization and was key in helping me apply to this job,” he said.
Vera also has an AbilityFirst job coach, Alisa Marin, who stops by during the week to see how he is progressing and make sure there is clear communication with his managers on expectations and performance.
“Rafael has been handling his new job and these unusual circumstances very well; he was supposed to only work part time but due to the situation they asked him to come on full time, so it’s a lot,” she said. “There’s a lot to be done, so he’s working hard. He tries to make each customer feel good.”
Meanwhile, Vera said even though working at a grocer is a lot of work during a pandemic, he enjoys using the money to help provide his family with some extra “hazard pay.”
He’s also learned about interacting well with others, even though for a while he had to help enact some rationing measures so people wouldn’t hoard at the store.
“I’ve seen my fair share of panic buying … the first two weeks it became really chaotic and we had to implement rations and tell people ‘Only one pasta, one carton of eggs, one milk’; people didn’t like it but you had to roll with the punches like that,” he said, adding that he also likes the fast pace he’s grown accustomed to at the store lately. “I enjoy my coworkers and my manager, it’s a really good store and a good company. I’m excited to continue to work here once this is all over too.”

After Closing Doors, Noor Offers Free Soup to Seniors

Photo courtesy Noor
Noor staff prepares the distribution of its free, community soup recently. The premier events site is giving away vegetarian, hearty soups every Friday from 3-5 p.m. until it can reopen.

There’s nothing quite like soup for the soul, and during time of quarantine and social isolation, that rings true more than ever, Noor owner Robert Shahnazarian and his wife, Maggie, discovered recently.
The owners of the Pasadena-based premier event and wedding venue were recently faced with the painful task of cancelling all planned celebrations at its site and shutting down operations amid the “Safer at Home” order put in place throughout L.A. County and city of Pasadena. Like many small businesses, Noor had to furlough or lay off some employees until further notice, and that act cut deep.
They still had a large order of food perishables for an upcoming, event-filled weekend — before having to shutter its doors — and Shahnazarian eyed the remainder of his dejected staff, standing idly by. He had heard that seniors in the community, already challenged by isolation, were suffering further from food insecurity and social distancing measures, and not able to find what they needed at the grocers due to the massive hoarding seen the first few weeks of COVID-19 fears.
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LCUSD Superintendent’s Message on Status of District

By Wendy Sinnette, Special to The Outlook

Wendy Sinnette

I hope everyone is managing during these unprecedented times as we engage with Gov. Newsom’s “Safer at Home” order and work together to flatten the curve of infection with the COVID-19 virus. I am grateful to The Outlook and Charlie Plowman for giving me the opportunity to update the larger community regarding the status of our schools in the La Cañada Unifed School District.
I have been regularly emailing district families, students in grades 7-12 and staff, but given the support that the community of La Cañada Flintridge continually demonstrates for its schools, it is important to keep everyone informed regarding district updates. Our schools closed on Friday, March 13, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers were provided two days to prepare for distance learning, which officially commenced on Tuesday, March 17. Our teachers and students have access to Google Classroom, and student textbooks and learning apps are stored in Classlink, an online centralized platform. Other resources available for distance learning opportunities are Screencastify, Google Hangouts, Zoom, YouTube and EdPuzzle. Teachers are designing lessons according to their instructional style and working hard to ensure a continuation of learning throughout the school closure period.
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Pasadena Can Succeed — Together — in Coronavirus Fight

By Terry Tornek, Mayor of Pasadena

Mayor Terry Tornek

As you know, Pasadena, Los Angeles County and the state of California have all issued unprecedented anti-virus regulations — called “Safer at Home.”
These regulations ask everyone to stay at home and have closed most businesses. We have taken these draconian steps because our medical professionals told us that it is the only way to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus. If we don’t slow it down, if the number of cases continues to double every few days, our medical system will be overwhelmed and more people will die.
These rules are in effect until April 19, but that will most likely be extended; perhaps for MONTHS. We just can’t be sure right now.
In spite of our best efforts, more people will be infected. If you don’t feel well, call your doctor — don’t go to the emergency room.
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