Gun Sales Soar After Capitol Siege

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
A man waits to enter the Guns Direct store, where customers lined up earlier in the week to purchase firearms following the riot at the U.S. Capitol.

In the wake of the assault last week on the U.S. Capitol, some local gun store owners are saying that customers are flocking to their shops.
Jonathan Solomon, owner of Redstone Firearms, said he has seen an increase in gun sales of about 30% to 40%, with a substantial number of customers being first-time firearm buyers. Many of the customers, he added, mentioned the attack on the Capitol building by supporters of President Donald Trump on Jan. 6 as their reason to purchase a gun.
The riot, aimed at overturning Joe Biden’s win in the presidential election, left five people dead, including a Capitol police officer and a man who suffered a heart attack.
“Anytime there’s any kind of civil unrest, gun sales do spike,” said James Janya, co-owner of Guns Direct, “because people are a little bit concerned about what’s going on in this country.”

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City Pursues Potential Mylar Balloon Restrictions

Photo courtesy Burbank Water and Power
The City Council asked municipal staff members this week to bring the panel some options to regulate metallic, or Mylar, balloons in Burbank.

Following a unanimous vote this week, the Burbank City Council will consider regulating Mylar balloons, which utility representatives said are often the cause of brief power outages.
Burbank Water and Power has a 99.99% reliability rate, meaning outages are fairly uncommon, BWP executive assistant Lyndsey Kramer said during the council’s Tuesday meeting. But when outages do occur, there’s a chance that they were caused by metallic Mylar balloons floating away and coming into contact with power lines.
Since 2000, Mylar balloons have been the No. 1 cause of outages — 206 of them, accounting for 189 hours of service interruption. Between January 2016 and December 2020, Mylar balloons have been responsible for 36 “momentary outages” — more than any other cause — which last less than 60 seconds.

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Burbank Threatens Defiant Restaurant With Permit Loss

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill’s reopening of its outdoor patio in violation of county and state health orders brought the attention of news crews, supportive diners and frustrated residents. Now, the city is stepping in.

Nearly a month after the eatery announced it would serve diners in-person, despite prohibitive state health orders, Burbank officials have pledged to revoke Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill’s permit unless it complies.
Community development director Patrick Prescott issued a notice of violation to Baret Lepejian, owner of Tinhorn Flats, on Jan. 8, saying the restaurant must return to offering only delivery and take-out services and require all employees and patrons to wear face coverings by Tuesday. If Lepejian continues to keep his eatery’s outdoor patio open, the City Council will hold a public hearing to consider suspending or revoking Tinhorn Flats’ conditional use permit on Feb. 22.

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Hospital, Airport Officials Provide COVID Updates

Just over half of the patients at St. Joseph Medical Center have COVID-19, the hospital’s chief officer told City Council members this week, though many workers are being vaccinated.
Kelly Linden, CEO of the Burbank hospital, said on Tuesday that there were 135 coronavirus patients at St. Joseph Medical Center — a number that frequently changes as patients are admitted and discharged. She added that since March 6, when the first COVID-19 patient was admitted to the hospital, thousands have been treated in its emergency room. About 1,500 of those have been admitted, and about a quarter of those have been placed in the intensive care unit.
The hospital has vaccinated about 2,500 physicians and staff, Linden added, and second doses have started being administered.

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City, Hospital Continue to See Virus Surge

Less than two weeks after Burbank surpassed a total of 5,000 COVID-19 cases on Dec. 29, it appeared that the city would breach the 6,000-case mark as a nationwide surge continued.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported on Thursday that 5,856 people in Burbank had tested positive for the coronavirus as of the previous day, putting the seven-day average of new daily cases in Burbank at 106.3. That average had been as high as 114.3 on Christmas, thanks partially to a case backlog.
Also as of Wednesday, 129 Burbank residents had died due to the disease since the pandemic began. More than 65 of those deaths were connected to cases at nursing facilities, according to the city’s emergency management coordinator, Eric Baumgardner.
Public Health officials also reported this week that more than 200 people were dying from the coronavirus every day in the county, and that more than 8,000 were hospitalized with the disease. One in five people getting tested for COVID-19 are testing positive.
As of Wednesday, more than 871,000 people in L.A. County had tested positive, and more than 11,500 people had died. Those figures were roughly 458,000 and 7,900, respectively, a month earlier.

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New ‘Phone Pals’ Program Offers Companionship for Seniors

A new city program is partnering volunteers via phone with local seniors who are feeling isolated or lonely during the pandemic.
Besides offering seniors someone to talk to while bunkered down against a virus particularly dangerous to them, the free “Phone Pals” program also allows volunteers to refer seniors to various basic-need initiatives they might benefit from.
The program officially launched the week of Dec. 14 and is run through the Burbank Park and Recreation Department’s Joslyn Adult Center. By the end of the week, the adult center’s recreation coordinator Beth McQuitty estimated that between 25 and 30 people had signed up to volunteer for the program.

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Hearing Over Tinhorn Flats Permit Is Planned

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill has been offering in-person dining on its outdoor patio, though a health order has prohibited the practice.

A hearing at which a Los Angeles County department will attempt to revoke the health permit of a local restaurant that continues to offer outdoor dining in defiance of government restrictions is scheduled for the week of Jan. 17, according to county officials. An exact date was not immediately available.
Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, which has offered in-person dining since Dec. 10, has frustrated many local residents and city officials concerned that the practice could contribute to the spread of COVID-19, in which there has been a major surge. A state health order prohibits in-person dining in most of California because of overburdened hospital intensive care units, and a county health order did the same in late 2020.

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Council Tables Discussion of Possible Burbank Health Agency

Burbank will not be considering the feasibility of creating its own public health department anytime soon, City Council members decided this week.
The panel voted Tuesday to push the discussion of the feasibility study back six months, with some members believing that the $25,000 that city officials estimated the study would cost could be better spent elsewhere — particularly since it was highly unlikely Burbank could break away from the county health department before the pandemic ended.
In June, then-Councilman Tim Murphy asked city staff members to bring back a potential feasibility study on creating a public health officer role, citing confusion some residents were having about the hierarchy of health departments.

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COVID-19 Outbreaks Reported at Local Senior Facilities

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
A woman hands off bouquets to a worker at Le Bleu Chateau. Senior care facilities there have had a total of more than 70 residents who have tested positive for COVID-19 as of this week, according to the county health department.

As coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket in Burbank, several senior care facilities in the city have reported outbreaks and deaths, according to a county health agency.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health dashboard on Thursday listed 10 Burbank residential congregate and acute care facilities with COVID-19 outbreaks, a term that, in the county’s usage, can vary in meaning depending on the type of facility. Some locations in Burbank, the county reported, had fewer than 10 cases among residents and staff, but a few had many more.
Two Le Bleu Chateau facilities, for example, reported that more than 70 residents had tested positive for COVID-19. A total of 11 staff members at the assisted living facilities also had the disease, and seven deaths were reported to be linked to the outbreaks, though the county reports only a single total for staff and resident deaths. The county reported an outbreak at the first facility on Nov. 30, and at the second facility on Dec. 11. Both have remained on the outbreak list since. Public Health usually removes facilities from the list once the outbreak is over, but has sometimes been slow to do so.

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