Community News | News
Beverly Hills Adapts to New Reality of COVID-19 Pandemic
With a reported 1,216 cases of COVID-19 in L.A. County as of March 26, including 13 in Beverly Hills, and an anticipated peak date still weeks away, experts predict the outbreak will continue to grow exponentially across the nation before beginning to taper off. Worldwide, over 23,700 people – 1,200 in the United States – have died as a result of the pandemic.
“It’s critical that everyone practices social distancing,” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “The actions you take today to stay six feet away from others and limit all nonessential activities outside your home are the best way for us to slow the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.”
Beverly Hills’ tight-knit community of 35,000 residents will spend the coming
months weathering a new reality unlike anything over the past 100 years. Last week the City ordered the closure of all non-essential retail stores to the public, with the exception of drug stores, pharmacies, grocery stores and restaurants for delivery or take-out. Like all streets throughout the business triangle, Rodeo Drive is now mostly devoid of pedestrian traffic, all pricey retail stores closed until further notice.
Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli told the Courier that the Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) has a solid plan in place to continue protecting the community, while also preparing for the unknowns of the future. BHPD is also actively working with the business community to make sure businesses follow best practices in crime prevention, such as removing items from shop windows.
“Our priority is safety in the community. And we vet through all the intelligence and plan for any potential threats. From an overall safety perspective, we feel that primarily the priority is for citizens to remain at home to reduce the spread of the virus,” she said.
For Beverly Hills residents, many of whom are above the age at which people are strongly advised by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to observe at-risk protocol and self-isolate, ensuring good health has never been more critical.
As of Thursday, 253 people had been hospitalized for COVID-19 in L.A. County. According to Beverly Hills spokesperson Keith Sterling, the City is not aware of any cases of COVID-19 among City employees, including police officers and firefighters.
While HIPAA laws prohibit the Beverly Hills Fire Department from sharing the number of COVID- 19 related calls coming in, EMS Coordinator Sean Stokes confirmed that the department had “been on many calls that have been potential cases.”
“The highest priority of the Beverly Hills Fire Department is the health and safety of the community,” Fire Chief Greg Barton told the Courier. “This is an unprecedented and fluid situation. However, the Beverly Hills Fire Department will always continue to provide the highest level of service to the community it serves.”
Barton said that BHFD has 27 firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To limit exposure to the virus, he said the department has implemented stringent measures, including screening each employee before he or she is allowed to come into the station. In addition, responders wear personal protective equipment on all calls to limit exposure to the virus.
Spagnoli said BHPD is currently “gently enforcing” the Safer at Home mandate in an effort to obtain voluntary compliance.
In addition to increasing BHPD visibility in the residential community and the business district, Spagnoli said the department has instituted best practices, including social distancing, in order to keep the community safe as well as ensure that officers and civilian staff stay healthy.
“As a department we’re standing with our community during this time. We’re committed to keeping them safe and having high visibility in the community,” she said. “We’re here, 24/7 we’re available. And remember in Beverly Hills we get there in less than three minutes, and nothing changes with our response time.”
As developments with the Novel Coronavirus continue to evolve, residents can visit www.beverlyhills.org/novelcoronavirus for the latest information.