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.
Nearly eight months after shuttering its campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the La Cañada Unified School District is ready to reopen its doors to young learners after getting the green light from Los Angeles County.
Superintendent Wendy Sinnette notified parents late last week that county officials granted the district waivers that allow students in transitional kindergarten through 2nd grade to return to campus for limited in-person instruction. La Cañada, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon elementary schools are set to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 17. Continue reading “District to Reopen Schools for Youngest Students”
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.
Evelyn “Evie” Swierczynski loved to read. Wendy Vargas, assistant principal at John Muir Middle School, where Evie attended 8th grade, said she always had a book in her hand. Her mother, Meredith, said she often had a stack of tomes nearby. Evie still loved books when she was at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, having been diagnosed with leukemia just after finishing her freshman year at Burbank High School, where she was in the theater program, in 2018. Even when the chemotherapy made concentrating on reading hard, Meredith Swierczynski said, she and the rest of the family appreciated having them. Staff members and volunteers with the hospital’s Child Life program would bring Evie DVDs, games and crafts, while the CHLA Literally Healing program provided a new book every day. The latter was a particularly encouraging initiative, Swierczynski said in a phone interview. When Evie was in treatment and couldn’t leave her room on some days, a volunteer could come in wearing a gown and gloves and offer her a book.
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.
Rosa Maldonado’s house is known as “the one that scares people.” Every Halloween, she and her family celebrate by turning their yard on the corner of West Clark Avenue and North Sparks Street into a haunted maze, complete with costumed scarers. Over the past several years, themes have included cannibals, a circus and La Llorona — “the weeping woman” of Latin American folklore. On guests’ way out, they’re given the opportunity to donate to a charity the Maldonados have chosen for that year. It’s a reflection of a major reason why Halloween is so important to them: It was the favorite holiday of Rosa Maldonado’s stepdaughter, who died of cancer when she was 8 years old.
The looming COVID-19 pandemic that forced 2020’s State of the City Address to be held virtually rather than in person was a major focus during Mayor Sharon Springer’s speech, but she encouraged residents that the city was adapting to the challenges. The Tuesday speech, titled “Burbank Together, Rays of Light,” took an optimistic tone, though it also acknowledged the threat posed by a coronavirus that has killed more than 220,000 Americans, including dozens of Burbank residents, and caused businesses to shutter. In a prerecorded 12-minute video streamed, clips were shown of Gregg Garfield, whom Springer described as the first person in the city to contract the virus. Personnel interviewed at Providence St. Joseph’s Medical Center said they did not expect Garfield to survive. Fortunately, he recovered weeks later.
Though the Burbank Unified School District made the decision to continue exclusively with distance learning for the wide majority of students through the remainder of the semester, staff members gave stakeholders an idea of what in-person instruction in a world of COVID-19 could look like. Superintendent Matt Hill and other staff members hosted a virtual session on Wednesday about the possible reopening of schools and fielded questions from parents. Right off the bat, Hill said the district is “not expecting any changes right now for this current semester” and that staff is planning for a return to campus when permissible by health officials. “The earliest that we would [reopen campuses] is January,” he said, “but we are not saying January is when we would do that. We do not have a date right now because health conditions change frequently.”
Federal and state officials said at a virtual town hall this week that economic recovery was at the forefront of their minds, but they often cautioned that they were dependent on federal dollars that may not be coming. The live-streamed meeting, moderated by former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos and which featured Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and California Labor Secretary Julie Su, allowed residents to float questions to the representatives on topics ranging from testing to Azerbaijani aggression in Artsakh. A subject that dominated much of the conversation on Monday, however, was a recession caused by the deadly coronavirus. The California unemployment rate fell to an estimated 10.8% in September, the second consecutive month since March that the rate was lower than the 12.3% height of the Great Recession, according to the state’s Employment Development Department. There were more than 2 million workers in California who remained unemployed last month.
Federal and state officials said at a recent virtual town hall that economic recovery was at the forefront of their minds, but also cautioned that federal dollars were needed for the task. The livestreamed forum, which featured Congressman Adam Schiff, state Sen. Anthony Portantino and California Labor Secretary Julie Su, allowed residents to float questions to the officials on topics ranging from COVID-19 testing to Azerbaijani aggression. A subject that dominated much of the conversation on Monday, however, was the recession caused by a deadly coronavirus. The California unemployment rate fell to an estimated 10.8% in September, the second consecutive month since March that the rate was lower than the Great Recession peak of 12.3%, according to the state’s Employment Development Department.