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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As Virus Spreads Further, High School Sports Shut Down

Photo courtesy Adam Colman
The Burbank Unified School District suspended all on-campus athletic activities on Monday in response to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The Burbank High School football team had been conditioning on the field for about three weeks.

Concerned over the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Burbank Unified School District officials announced the suspension of all on-campus conditioning for the district’s high school athletes on Monday.
The county record for daily new coronavirus cases was broken for a second time this week with 7,854 reported cases on Thursday. The previous high (7,593) had been reported on Tuesday.
The student-athletes’ and coaches’ joy upon returning to campus for conditioning lasted only three weeks.

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Local Restaurants Struggle With Dining Ban

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Michel LeChasseur, who owns Ma’s Italian Kitchen in Burbank, said he feels restaurants are being unfairly singled out by Los Angeles County officials for a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Michel LeChasseur, owner of Ma’s Italian Kitchen in Burbank, said his business is on its last legs. He also said his restaurant is one of the lucky ones.
LeChasseur said the eatery, which made much of its revenue from its catering services to production studios, is bringing in less than a third of what it did before the COVID-19 pandemic. He had to slash employees’ hours and lay off 14 of his 22 workers. He added that he even chose to forgo his own salary so he could keep paying his workers; his husband’s job is keeping them both afloat.
Still, LeChasseur learned to adjust, though he watched eight friends lose their restaurants during the pandemic. He spread out tables on his restaurant’s patio and bought Plexiglas shields to protect customers. His servers wore gloves and two layers of masks. As the colder months approached, he purchased heaters.

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County Officials Affirm Suspension of Outdoor Dining

Los Angeles County this week delivered yet another blow to the restaurant industry by announcing the suspension of in-person dining outdoors, and officials later rebuffed an effort to reverse the move, while more restrictions were likely on the way as the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continues to climb.
Outdoor dining, which had been permitted since July, has been suspended for restaurants, breweries and wineries after an alarming surge of coronavirus cases throughout the county; indoor dining at eateries has long been banned. Meanwhile, Gov. Gavin Newsom imposed a curfew for all nonessential businesses and gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. late last week.

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October Figures Show an Easing of Unemployment

The unemployment rate in Glendale fell to 12.3% in October, according to preliminary data, as workers continued to return to their businesses — good news that contrasted with restrictions on commercial activities that were ordered in the last few days because of a resurgent COVID-19.
Approximately 12,800 local workers remained unemployed last month, according to the California Employment Development Department, down from 16,400 (16.1%) in September and a height of 21,300 (21.9%) in May. Glendale’s February unemployment rate was 4.2%.
The joblessness rate in Los Angeles County also continued to fall to a similar level, reaching 12.1% in October.

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COVID-19 Cases on the Rise Locally, Nationally

By Zand Hill and Christian Leonard
Glendale News-Press

Glendale reached a dubious milestone this week as health officials sounded the alarm again on the apparently uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus that has left the nation reeling.
The number of city residents who have tested positive for the disease since March rose to 5,068, one of the highest totals among suburban Los Angeles municipalities. As of Friday, at least 186 Glendale residents have succumbed to the disease. Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials reported this week that since Oct. 3, the test positivity rate for COVID-19 has risen from 3.6% to 5.9% countywide.
This week there were around 103 intensive care unit beds available countywide, as hospitalizations for the disease again are rising. This week there were 953 hospitalized patients — 28% of whom were in ICUs — after the county reached a low of 682 hospitalized patients on Oct. 3.

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Return to On-Campus Learning Appears in Jeopardy

A recent surge of new COVID-19 cases around the nation has Burbank Unified School District officials coming to grips with the possibility that the majority of its students will not be allowed to return to campus for in-person instruction this academic year.
The district recently committed to distance learning through the remainder of the first semester and staff members have been refining a hybrid model that would bring back students at a limited capacity.
However, a current trend in coronavirus cases had the board of education questioning whether it is best to continue working on a hybrid schedule or shift the focus to enhancing the distance learning experience.
In Gov. Gavin Newsom’s ranking system, Los Angeles County remains in Tier 1, a classification that indicates a widespread risk of COVID-19 infection and keeps schools closed. The county would have to meet the next tier’s thresholds for two weeks to move into Tier 2, which indicates substantial risk of infection.

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Nursing Home Combats New COVID-19 Outbreak

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
By Wednesday, a COVID-19 outbreak at the Burbank Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center had infected 54 residents and killed eight, according to Los Angeles County officials. A previous outbreak at the same facility brings the total to more than double those numbers.

On Oct. 12, the Burbank Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center popped up on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health coronavirus dashboard — an outbreak had been reported.
It started with a handful of cases: four workers, two residents. But, as has been seen at nursing homes across the country, the virus, whose symptoms can sometimes be undetected for weeks, spread quickly.
By Wednesday, Nov. 4, 19 staff members and 54 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 at the facility, according to the county department. Eight people had died. Elizabeth Tyler, a media contact for the Burbank center, said that by Thursday, that number was 10 — all residents.

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Virus Stats Improve, but Quick Return to Campus Unlikely

Confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County have declined since last month, a trend that has made local school district officials optimistic about being able to offer in-class instruction at the elementary school level relatively soon, but any hopes for reopening campuses in the near future were dashed Wednesday by county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“At this point, [the Department of] Public Health will not be opening up our waiver process for schools,” Ferrer said in a statement. “We will be closely reviewing the guidance from the state and will be reviewing all options with [county supervisors] to ensure that schools are able to open as safely as possible for all children and staff.
“We do need to continue taking all of the steps that we were taking these past few weeks so that our community transmission rates remain low enough for us to continue our recovery journey,” she added in the county’s update, “and a very important piece of that recovery journey is getting our children back to schools.”

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