Fentanyl, Vaccines and Fires on Health and Safety Agenda

There have been 49 total COVID-19 deaths in Beverly Hills, according to a report presented by Meena Janmohamed, emergency manager for the city, with deaths and cases in sharp decline throughout 2022. 

“We’re in a great place,” the emergency manager said, during a city health and safety commission meeting on Oct. 24. 

But she then quickly noted that COVID cases increased sharply in the late fall of 2021 and 2020. 

Janmohamed recommended that residents receive the bivalent vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration has recommended as a booster that can specifically work against the Omicron variant. 

Though 73% of the L.A. County population is recorded as vaccinated, according to county public health statistics, just 8% has received the bivalent shot.

“The current boosters that are in circulation appear to provide protection against variants,” Janmohamed said.

The Emergency Manager acknowledged that there is “some level of fatigue” in the population to get another shot, but surmised that residents are now more cautious, generally, since the pandemic.

“We used to go out with a common cold,” she said. “But now we see the ramification and domino effect of that.”

Lee Hilborne, a Commissioner as well as medical director at both Quest Diagnostics and the UCLA health system, described a “flashing yellow light” right now for COVID due to potential variants plus the oncoming flu season. 

California’s state of emergency for COVID-19 is set to end on Feb. 28. 

Fentanyl Fears

Beverly Hills school officials are now being provided an antidote to the deadly opiate fentanyl, and are expected to know how to use it.  

“Administrators have now been trained in the use of Narcan,” said Beverly Hills Unified School District Board Member Rachelle Marcus at the Oct. 24 meeting. 

Narcan is a brand-name drug manufactured by parent company Emergent BioSolutions, though generic versions of it made by the companies Teva and Sandoz are also sold. A version of the drug naloxone that can close a body’s opioid receptors, Narcan is generally cited by public health and law enforcement agencies as effective in reversing an overdose. It works by pumping a spray into a person’s nasal passages. 

An array of national and local reports points to the growing, and often times unwitting, abuse of fentanyl, a prescription painkiller. For example, the Los Angeles County Unified School District has reported seven students who have accidentally overdosed on fentanyl in 2022.  

At the meeting, Commissioner Cathy Baker asked Marcus how Narcan would be distributed in the schools.

“I guess they have it in the nurses’ office,” Marcus replied. “But it may also have to be in the main offices. The administrators are the ones trained to use it.”

Marcus added that she was concerned about those trained to deploy Narcan being absent from the school. 

Baker suggested to Marcus that Narcan availability not be limited to school grounds. “Will Narcan be available at parks?” she said. “Buses on long trips? That might be something to look into.”

Baker noted that the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved one week ago placing Narcan into every library. 

Wildfire Season

The Beverly Hills Fire Department has received 6,057 calls year-to-date compared to 5,840 through Oct. 24, 2021. Fire Department Battalion Chief Michael Hand attributed the uptick to the “reopening of the economy.”

Hand also noted that it is fire season and the department recently partook in a wild fire simulation. So far, Hand said, the department has not dealt with a major conflagration during the season. 

Non-smoking Area

Beverly Hills has some of the strictest non-smoking laws in the country, with prohibitions on lighting up along sidewalks, alleyways and streets plus within 20 feet of outdoor dining. 

At least for 2022, the policies seem to be followed. Through the end of September, the city has opened 48 cases, according to Gabrielle Ressa, management analyst for the city, 36 initiated by citizen complaints. However, it has issued just 11 citations. 

According to Ressa, there are rarely repeat complaints from the same locale, a sign, she said, “That enforcement has been working.”