Long Beach will be the first city in California, and in the nation, to offer simultaneous COVID-19 testing combined with influenza testing at the same time.
Mayor Robert Garcia tells Inside the Issues people will get both results, whether they are requested or not.
“What’s really great about this is that a lot of folks are going to get a test and they might have the flu but not COVID and it’s important for them to know that, or vice versa,” he explained. “We work directly with the clinics and the labs that we have here in the city to get this work done.”
He said this should be a practice all cities should partake in, to help stop the spread of both coronavirus and the flu this season.
“I think every single jurisdiction should adopt this program,” said Garcia. “There’s no additional costs passed on. There certainly is on our end, some additional work we have to do, but it’s worth it and it’s the right thing to do.”
The city has also announced a living stipend of $500 to 150 artists in the city who are out of work because of the pandemic. The program will last for six months.
Calling them the “lifeblood of cities” Garcia said the program allows artists and cultural workers the ability to have additional resources for basic needs.
“During this pandemic, the one thing we’ve learned is the folks that are being hurt in really, really terrible ways we know are our artists and our cultural workers. You think about theaters being closed, you think about restaurants or maybe performers playing a gig, or even a nightclub, you think about the symphony,” he said. “These are spaces that are not allowed, in any condition, under the health orders, to operate safely because they're places of gathering and so artists have been out of work since March for many of them. Very few are back to work and this guaranteed income program is really a pilot for artists.”
With the recent rollbacks in businesses by California Governor Gavin Newsom, Garcia said while it’s painful for those who own a business, it is necessary given the recent uptick in positive coronavirus cases.
“I think, first, the governor made absolutely the right decision in ensuring that we roll back some of these openings that are causing spread across the state and I know that’s hard for small businesses and workers, but it's the right call. It's the safe thing to do and it's hard but it must be done,” he said. “My mom worked in a clinic for 25 years. She was a healthcare worker, a woman that supported nurses and doctors. They are the frontline workers in our hospitals. Many are working class people that are on the front line taking care of us. They do not need to be overburdened in our hospitals and clinics with people being irresponsible.
Garcia lost both his mom and step-dad to COVID-19 this year and this past Thanksgiving was the first time they weren’t at the table together. While that has been hard, he said he hopes his story “can encourage others to not gather” this holiday season.
“We want folks to take a sacrifice this year. Stay within your family units, that you can enjoy them for many more holidays in the years ahead,” he said. “So, I think those that are choosing to not sacrifice, it’s really hard to see. But, I think most people are doing the right thing. We gotta just stay on track and know that this is something that could impact your family. It certainly impacted mine.”
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