Claremont feels impact of closures as virus number climb
by Steven Felschundneff | firstname.lastname@example.org
When Governor Gavin Newsom decided on Monday to reverse course on reopening the state’s economy due to the surging coronavirus, the effects here in Claremont were immediate.
Many of the closures the governor announced were already in place because Los Angeles is one of 19 counties that shut down those sectors in early July. However, the order does impact Claremont’s gyms, in-person worship services, offices for non-essential workers, nail salons and barbershops. The new restrictions come with no clear deadline, which has some business owners frustrated.
“It’s a hard position to be in,” said Melissa Harvey, owner of Salon 6SixtyFive on Foothill Boulevard. “Numbers are climbing, I understand the need to take precautions to keep our community safe, but as a business owner I’m very worried about how businesses will survive this. We have still not pulled ourselves out of the last closure. I wish the government would look more at helping businesses with bills like rent and utilities so they could keep their doors open when this is over. We will hold on as long as we can.”
Claremont restaurants had to close their dining rooms two weeks ago, which sparked a big jump in request for sidewalk dining under the city’s Al Fresco program. The new restrictions will undoubtedly restart the debate over closing streets in the Village to make room for more seating.
Monday evening the Village was still pretty active with people, some masked others not, browsing window displays or dining on the sidewalk. Aruffo’s Italian Cuisine had tables lining Yale Avenue and full of customers enjoying a meal in the warm summer air.
Chrissie Paniagua and her husband Ned were among the customers eating at Aruffo’s. She sees the pandemic as a threat to the many businesses that make Claremont special, and wonders why Claremont doesn’t close the streets down to offer more restaurant seating as other Inland Valley cities are doing.
“We get visitors from all over,” she said. “Claremont is a gem, why not keep the gem alive?”
Ms. Paniagua owns Magnolia Wine Bar in the shopping center at Foothill and Claremont Boulevards. Her business has most certainly been affected by the closures, but said her landlord has been accommodating and her wine bar is planning to offer seating on the patio, in front of the former Starbuck’s location. Since they serve food as well as wine, they are exempted from the July 1 order that closes all bars, wine tasting rooms and breweries in LA County.
“We are working with the Chamber to see if there is a way to find funding to close streets, but it is very expensive (the City does not have the money to pay for barricades and staffing to comply with closure requirements and liability). We are processing a lot of permits from restaurants to use the sidewalk, parking spaces, and other outdoor areas for seating,” Claremont’s Public Information Officer Bevin Handel told the COURIER.
The city is exploring ways to allow other types of business such as personal services outside. “The tricky part is making sure they are able to still meet safety protocols and health department requirements,” Ms. Handel said.
City Hall, the police station, Hughes Center and the city yard, continue to be open on an appointment-only basis, although city officials highly encourage people to conduct as much business online as possible.
On Monday, Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center announced that elective surgeries would cease in an effort to protect the health of patients and medical staff and to “preserve critical resources, such as personal protective equipment, and manage hospital beds that may be needed in the event of a surge of patients.”
“Effective Monday, July 13, 2020, in consultation and agreement with our physicians, we are again postponing some elective surgeries and procedures that can be safely delayed without risk to patients until further notice,” hospital communications staff wrote in a statement. “The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has recommended this action to all hospitals in response to the skyrocketing number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations in recent weeks. These numbers are projected to continue to rise in upcoming weeks.”
If there was any doubt about why the closures were enacted, one needed only look at the recent data coming from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
On Tuesday public health confirms the highest number of new COVID-19 cases, a total of 4,244 in a single day. The county also reported 73 deaths, which is far above the 7-day average of 28. On Wednesday, Public Health confirmed 44 new deaths and 2,758 new cases of COVID-19. Hospitalizations in the county reached 2,193, with 26 percent of confirmed cases in the ICU and 17 percent on ventilators.
The three-day average for hospitalizations is 2,084 more than at any other time during the pandemic. Data shows people between the ages of 18 and 40 are being hospitalized at a higher rate than observed earlier.
“At the beginning of June, the 7-day average of new cases was 1,452. Now the 7-day average is 2,859 new cases a day. This is double the rate from six weeks ago and higher than any point during this entire pandemic,” the county said in a statement.
Public health has identified 143,009 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 3,932 deaths. In Claremont the cumulative cases are now 180, a 21 percent increase from a week ago. That doesn’t include three cases in unincorporated Claremont. The total deaths in Claremont still remains at three.
The city had a new institutional outbreak at the Western Assemblies home on Berkeley Avenue, with confirmed cases among five staff members, two residents and sadly one death.
For more information, go to the LA County Public Health website at http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/Coronavirus/.