Healthcare

Medical professionals man a station at the City Hall novel coronavirus testing site over the weekend.

Six months after LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced LA County’s Safer at Home ordinance, Malibu has reached 101 residents testing positive for the novel coronavirus as of Sept. 15, an increase of just one new positive case compared to one week previous on Sept. 8. There remained three deaths attributed to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Countywide, a total of 255,000 residents have tested positive for the virus, with 6,273 of those residents dying from COVID-19.

During its Monday, Sept. 14, regular meeting, Malibu City Council declined to enact an urgency ordinance mandating face coverings be worn in public. While three council members voted in favor of the mask mandate—Mayor Mikke Pierson and council members Karen Farrer and Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner—a supermajority (at least four votes) was needed to enact the measure as an “urgency” ordinance, meaning it would go into effect immediately.

The hearing, which took place after midnight on Tuesday morning, drew a number of speakers who criticized the ordinance, with some saying it was too much of a government overreach. One speaker, Hamish Patterson, also called into question the true death rate caused by the pandemic. Patterson suggested many of those counted among the coronavirus dead were killed by other ailments.

“I knew all three people that died [of COVID-19] in Malibu,” Pierson—who introduced the idea for ordinance—said, adding, “Underlying health issues? I don’t care. They all died and they all had COVID.”

When asked by city staff if he would like to pursue the mask mandate as a normal ordinance, which only requires three “yes” votes but would take about six weeks to come into effect, Pierson declined, saying he would revisit the idea should the county’s case rate increase.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the county marked 474 new cases of the virus among residents and 47 new deaths. However, the number was artificially low, according to LA County Health.

“The lower number of new cases, in part, reflect reduced testing due to wildfire smoke and recent extreme weather,” the department’s statement read. “Public Health reminds residents that testing capacity across the County remains high and appointments are available. Testing is also widely available within the provider community.”

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