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City Strengthens Support System Amid Health Crisis

As communities settle into the new reality created by the COVID-19 pandemic, San Marino officials have unveiled a handful of services tailored to help residents from a safe distance.
The city has created a resident support hotline, which locals can use to speak with a staff member to find out information, request assistance or get questions answered concerning city operations. In an announcement, the city especially encourages senior citizens or residents at a high risk for COVID-19, or coronavirus, infection to use the service to take care of necessary food or medical supplies.
“Residents can call in, and if they’re either high risk or elderly, they can’t get out, we’re going to make every effort to give them what they need,” Fire Chief Mario Rueda said in a phone interview. “We’re basically taking the position that we’re here for you.”
The resident support hotline is (626) 300-0731. This phone will be staffed during the normal business hours, which are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursdays and 7-11 a.m. on Fridays. After business hours, residents can leave messages and a staff member will return their calls as soon as possible. The service is being run through the city’s Emergency Operations Center.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, there are three confirmed cases of COVID-19 among residents of Region 31, which comprises San Marino and South Pasadena. The county does not release information about whether those patients are being hospitalized or where they are believed to have contracted COVID-19.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has virtually ground much of the world to a halt as governments struggle to contain its spread and the death tally rises. The outbreak began in Wuhan, China, in November, and the virus currently has no cure or vaccine. The state has imposed directives and guidelines closing nonessential businesses and imploring people to stay in their homes except for necessary excursions for food or medical purposes.
Rueda added that more than 20% of San Marino’s residents are 65 or older and may not have support systems in place to handle the new restrictions, hence the city’s new outreach work.
“I think there’s a lot of anxiety that comes with this thing. It’s historic in a lot of ways, but I think the guys [in the Fire Department] recognize that their job is to protect the public,” the chief added.
Most public entities in San Marino have closed, although Lacy Park remains open. City officials are monitoring use of the park to ensure visitors are practicing social distancing guidelines and not crowding. The city last week closed off the park’s playground in keeping with the county’s Safer at Home directive.
“We understand that Lacy Park is a precious resource to the community and is a source of beauty and peace for people in this time of crisis,” City Manager Marcella Marlowe said. “We’d like to be able to keep it open as long as possible, and we need the community to do that.”
After last weekend, the county and some cities have had to close off hiking trails or parks after people began crowding them.
“Everyone’s having the same issues with too many people going to parks or public areas in groups and not social distancing,” Police Chief John Incontro explained. “I understand. You want to get out. You want to breathe. We’re going to try to keep Lacy Park open as long as we can.”
This week, the Recreation Department launched “virtual recreation” on the city’s website, where residents can access a variety of resources for keeping active while confined to homes, including free exercise videos, kid crafts, zoo and aquarium live links, and a list of local restaurants that offer takeout or delivery.
These links can be accessed at cityofsanmarino.org/virtual_recreation.php.
In light of its closure, Crowell Public Library is also now offering curbside pickup of books that residents wish to check out. From 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, residents can call to request the items and pick them up in the parking lot. Patrons can, as always, also make use of the library’s digital resources by visiting cityofsanmarino.org/library/digital_resources/index.php.
Marlowe praised the city’s leadership team for its service innovations during the pandemic.
“Everybody’s trying to come up with ideas,” she said. “We’re trying to serve the community as best we can and keep the continuity of service in creative ways. For most of us, this is why we got into the business. This was our whole aspirational thing: How do we make the community better?”
For the most up-to-date information, visit cityofsanmarino.org/coronavirus/index.php. Mandarin translation is available.

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