PASADENA, Calif.—Interim Health Officer Dr. Eric G. Handler has announced that Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) will terminate the local public health emergency for COVID-19, effective 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 5.
The end of the public health emergency comes as community spread of COVID-19 has decreased locally and statewide. Acting Director of Public Health Manuel Carmona will recommend the City Council ratify a resolution terminating both the local public health emergency and local emergency at the City Council Meeting scheduled for Monday, March 6.
“I want to express my deep gratitude to all City employees who worked tirelessly to support our community during this unprecedented time,” said City Manager Miguel Márquez. “We remain committed to keeping Pasadena safe and seek community cooperation to utilize effective tools for all of us to be healthy as the virus continues to circulate.”
The end of the local public health emergency will occur less than a week after Governor Newsom ends the California COVID-19 state of emergency on Feb. 28, and nearly three years after it was first declared by Pasadena Health Officer Dr. Ying-Ying Goh on March 4, 2020.
Over the last three years, PPHD has monitored COVID-19 data and designed interventions to mitigate the spread of the disease. COVID-19 cases have been declining since the start of 2023 and have now stabilized in the low community level as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 24, the seven-day daily average of cases declined by almost half, from 30.3 to 16.0, despite the emergence of XBB.1.5 as the dominant variant in Los Angeles County. The emergence of this latest variant has not resulted in an increase in cases or more severe COVID-related illness, demonstrating how significantly the situation has improved compared to the prior two years.
“With the end of the emergency proclamations, the Pasadena community will enter a new phase of the pandemic, but the threat posed to community health by COVID-19 will continue,” said Dr. Handler. “Terminating the local public health emergency will shift intervention measures from PPHD to individuals and their healthcare providers. PPHD will maintain a full complement of staff who will continue to conduct contact tracing and case investigations, offer vaccines and boosters, and provide safety information and guidance to the community.”
“While the local health emergency is coming to an end, the health officer has the authority to issue guidance necessary to mitigate the impact of communicable diseases,” said Carmona. “Our pandemic response team is closely monitoring the development of state guidance to determine if any existing local requirements need to remain.”
PPHD recommends everyone consider their personal and environmental factors to assess their risk of contracting COVID-19 and to take necessary precautions to protect themselves and others, such as:
- Getting vaccinated and boosted;
- Wearing a well-fitted, high-quality mask (i.e., KN95 or N95) in indoor public spaces and crowded settings;
- Washing hands regularly;
- Testing if you experience symptoms;
- Staying home when sick and avoiding close contact with others; and
- Seeking treatment if you test positive for COVID-19.
“As we move into a different stage of the pandemic, we understand the need to shift our priorities. That said, we continue to see and care for COVID patients at Huntington Health. We encourage the public to continue efforts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to our friends, family and neighbors, particularly those who are most vulnerable to serious illness,” said Dr. Kimberly Shriner, medical director of infection prevention and control at Huntington Health. “Masks are effective in preventing a number of infectious diseases including COVID-19 and the flu. I know that I will keep my mask on when I travel, visit crowded spaces or whenever I feel like I might encounter large groups of people. And thankfully, we are fortunate to have access to the COVID-19 vaccine and boosters. Staying up-to-date on your booster is the key to preventing hospitalizations.”
PPHD led the public health emergency response effort with support from employees from every City department and partnerships with a number of community agencies and faith-based organizations. Together, these efforts resulted in 42,281 investigations of reported confirmed and probable cases and the administration of 42,628 doses of COVID-19 vaccine and boosters, helping the City achieve a 93.3% vaccination rate for first and second doses. Tragically, the Pasadena community has lost 442 residents to this terrible disease, and the City shares condolences with those who have lost friends and family members during this difficult time.
PPHD continues to offer free COVID-19 bivalent boosters on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 – 11:30 a.m. and 1 – 4:30 p.m. The bivalent booster is effective in decreasing the spread of COVID-19, preventing severe illness, and reducing hospitalizations and deaths. Appointments can be scheduled at MyTurn.ca.gov. Walk-ins are also accepted. For current updates and guidance, please visit the State of California’s COVID-19 resource webpage at COVID19.ca.gov and the CDC website.