Kite festival 2019

Washington State International Kite Festival in August has now joined the long list of 2020 events canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

LONG BEACH — The City of Long Beach accepted $43,650 in CARES Act funding during a city council meeting Monday, June 1.

The money will cover costs related to combating the covid-19 pandemic, such as personal protective equipment purchases and time spent by public officials at the county’s Emergency Operations Center. It will also cover the cost of testing the city’s sewer system for signs of covid-19.

The CARES Act funds will cover the 20 hand-sanitizing stations the city plans to put throughout downtown Long Beach. The city is waiting for the stations to be delivered.

During the meeting, Long Beach City Mayor Jerry Phillips recognized Jeff Harrell, co-owner of Peninsula Pharmacies, for Harrell’s pledge to provide masks and hand sanitizer to businesses working to reopen under the new safety standards. The pharmacy will provide 50 masks per business as well as three hand sanitizer sprays plus a refill bottle, which will be sold to businesses at cost, Harrell said. For more details, people can call Heather at the Long Beach Pharmacy, 360-642-3200.

Poop testing

Since the virus that causes covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, can be detected in stool samples, a Massachusetts-based company called Biobot Analytics, Inc., launched a project to attempt to map the spread of the disease by testing sewer systems. Long Beach signed up to participate in the discounted program and is waiting on test results. The first test cost Long Beach $120.

On April 7, the company published in medRxiv the findings of its first effort to estimate the number of people infected with covid-19 based on the levels of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage. The company collected samples from a “large metropolitan area” in Massachusetts, according to a study summary published on the company’s Medium page. On March 25, the sample area had about 446 confirmed cases of covid-19. Biobot’s sewage analysis showed an estimated 115,000 people infected people in the same area.

The mapping program was created in collaboration with researchers at MIT, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

While the company promised results in about five to seven days, results are delayed due to the number of samples received by the company. Because of the delay, Biobot gave Long Beach three complimentary testing kits.

Summer plans

Washington State International Kite Festival is the latest major event to be canceled due to the pandemic.

The World Kite Museum, which now runs the popular week-long August event, made the announcement in a Facebook post:

“We received many calls and messages about the fate of WSIKF 2020. After much discussion and assessment of the covid-19 situation, the decision has been made to cancel WSIKF 2020. Pacific County is now entering into Phase II of Washington state’s Phased Approach for reopening our economy. Our event cannot happen until we are in Phase IV, and then Washington State Parks would still need to issue a permit. Even if these phases were to happen immediately, there is not enough time remaining to organize WSIKF. So, folks, let’s all hope and pray for a much better 2021!”

One of Southwest Washington’s largest outdoor summer events, in recent years Kite Festival has attracted as many as 20,000 visitors for its climatic closing weekend.

There is no word yet on whether county-regulated beach approaches will be open for the Fourth of July weekend.

Pacific County Public Health Officer Dr. Steven Krager planned on issuing a public health order to close the approaches during the holiday weekend to discourage travel to the area. However, Pacific County Sheriff Robin Souvenir and other public safety officials raised concerns about how the closure might slow down emergency response vehicles.

Budget concerns continue

Sales, lodging and transit benefit district tax collections are all down. The amount of lodging tax collected was about $11,300, which was the lowest amount collected by the city since prior to 2005. It is a big drop, and City Administrator David Glasson said he expected the numbers to be as low or lower for April and May. It is possible there may be an uptick in June, but Glasson said he was bracing himself for low collections in that month as well.

“The town looks busy, but when you’re used to a ghost town now, everything looks busy,” Glasson said.

The city collected about $7,900 through the transit benefit district tax, which is fed by sales tax and pays for paving roads and maintaining city streets.

The next Long Beach City Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on June 15, via Zoom. People interested in joining the meeting can call Glasson at 360-642-4421.

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