By now, you’ve heard the advice:
• Stay home.
• Wash your hands with soap and water, for 20 seconds at a time, multiple times a day.
• Practice social distancing, which means staying at least six feet away from anyone not in your immediate household.
• Ensure you have the food, medicine and medical supplies enough to last around three weeks.
The coronavirus, which is the virus that causes the infectious disease known as COVID-19, has upturned the daily lives of virtually everyone in Malibu, alongside everyone in the United States and most of the world’s population.
As of Tuesday, March 17, there were no reported cases in Malibu, though there were 144 total cases confirmed in LA County, including one confirmed death due to the virus.
Symptoms and what to do about them
If you are feeling sick, stay home.
If your symptoms include severe shortness of breath, trouble breathing and a high temperature, call your primary care doctor but do not go into your doctor’s office. If you don’t have a primary care doctor, call an urgent care center or hospital for further instruction.
Only go to hospitals if you are unable to breathe (or suffering from a serious, unrelated injury or illness). According to physicians from Malibu Urgent Care, local urgent care centers are not currently equipped to handle cases of COVID-19 and going to an urgent care center with COVID-19 symptoms places medical personnel and other patients at unnecessary risk.
Malibu government response
On Monday, Malibu City Council called together a brief, midday meeting to formally ratify a state of emergency declaration. The declaration places City Manager Reva Feldman in charge of day-to-day decision making during the disease outbreak.
At the meeting, council members expressed support for Feldman’s plan to call for the closure of all city parks and facilities (including City Hall), as well as all Malibu bars and gyms. The plan would also have all restaurants, including bars that serve food, and coffee shops, become by-delivery or takeout only. While the meeting was in session, Los Angeles County put those rules into effect countywide.
Though Malibu does not have authority over the state- and county-run beaches, there was discussion among council as to whether a request should be made to close down Malibu’s beaches and trails.
Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson requested Feldman support keeping beaches open as a way for local residents to enjoy the outdoors—though he expressed concern about parking lots filling, causing visitors to gather “in great mass.”
Other council members agreed and, for now, beaches are open (more details on A1).
Also at the meeting, Feldman announced non-essential city employees—those who cannot work from home—would be placed on paid administrative leave, while essential employees would receive a temporary five percent pay increase for the duration of the emergency—with the exception of the city manager herself. The estimated $15,000 per month payroll increase would, Feldman added, most likely be reimbursed by FEMA emergency funds.
“We’ve had city staff working basically in emergency situations ... since November 2018,” Feldman said. “I’m asking people to go above and beyond to leave their families and risk their health at this time.”
There was also conversation about whether post-Woolsey construction on new homes should continue, with Feldman suggesting there should be a freeze on construction during the emergency.
“I realize what this means for this community and this is not a recommendation I bring lightly to this council,” Feldman said, adding, “I also need to weigh the safety out—the public safety out.”
“This is a critical decision,” agreed Environmental Sustainability Director Yolanda Bundy. “We need to think this through.
“I understand that we need to be cautious, but revisiting it often is what I would recommend,” she added.
While staff would continue to exercise caution, it appeared Bundy and Feldman felt it most likely plan checks and inspections would grind to a halt, though there was no official decision made.
The week ahead
Health officials have indicated they expect the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 to continue to climb as more testing becomes available.