Despite the decrease in new COVID-19 cases in the city, Pasadena Public Health Department Director Dr. Ying-Ying Goh on Monday asked the public to not let down its guard and to get vaccinated, saying there is still an elevated level of the spread of the disease in the community.
During the City Council meeting Goh reported that the department saw a notable decrease in COVID-19 cases over the past two weeks. This resulted in downgrading the city’s community transmission level from high to the next lower level, substantial.
Despite this, Goh said that the spread of the disease in the city remains elevated with a more than 10 times higher case rate than in June.
During the meeting, Goh also reported two additional COVID-19 related deaths in Pasadena.
“We hope that the people who are still unvaccinated or partially vaccinated will choose to protect themselves with vaccines so that the vaccination rates will continue to increase,” Goh said, after noting that the rate of full vaccinations in the city has already reached 87.7 percent.
Goh also urged individuals eligible for booster shots or those aged 65 and older and adults with high-risk health conditions to get the additional dose of vaccine for protection.
To combat the further spread of COVID-19, the health department on Monday issued an order that requires proof of vaccination or a pre-entry negative test for outdoor mega events starting Oct. 7 and also requires vaccination verification for customers and employees at indoor portions of bars, breweries, nightclubs and lounges.
[For complete discussion of Monday’s new health order, see here.]
Explaining the policy, Goh told the City Council that the order aims to address possible transmissions in high-risk gatherings.
“This order addresses gatherings that are at very high risk for COVID-19 transmission where mixing occurs without social distancing and often without masks.”
“Other cities such as San Francisco, New York and West Hollywood and our own county, Los Angeles County, have already implemented vaccine requirements for many types of high-risk activities,” Goh said.
Meanwhile, for the Halloween activities on campuses for this year, the health department is recommending that schools offer only low-risk events.
“Keep activities outdoors. Keep activities masked for everyone regardless of vaccination status if they are indoors and then outdoors, if kids and others cannot maintain six foot physical distancing, we do recommend masks that are protective against COVID-19 transmission.”
Goh reiterated her recommendation for eligible students to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Anyone who can be vaccinated must be vaccinated prior to these kinds of gatherings so that we can keep everyone safe, especially those kids who are not eligible yet for a vaccine.”
According to Goh, children who are not yet eligible may be able to get protected with a vaccine in the coming weeks or months.
Several people expressed their opposition to the vaccine requirements for children. Many said such mandates are discriminatory and take away parents’ rights to choose for their children.
“As a parent of two affected by the discriminatory COVID guidelines set by PPHD for unvaccinated versus vaccinated children. I am asking you to review these guidelines and make the appropriate changes to remove anything that discriminates between vaccinated and unvaccinated children,” wrote Nancy Munoz.
“Parents have the right to decide what is best for their children and family when it comes to vaccines. If we take this right away, we are no longer a democracy, we will have become communists!” wrote Angela Buchanan.
Andrea Leos, for her part, said children do not need vaccines as their immune systems are strong and the risk of them dying because of the disease is very low.
Last August, the Pasadena School Board approved the weekly COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated staff and under 12 years old students of Pasadena Unified School District campuses.
The board also required students eligible for vaccines or those 12 and above to show proof of vaccination or commit to weekly testing.