“The situation in L.A. is more concerning than it’s ever been,” said Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday. “Right now is the toughest moment we have faced. And we’re entering an even more dangerous time. We have no reason to believe that the worst-case scenario can’t happen here in our city and county.
“This is a different kind of moment,” said Garcetti, “a new level of danger. And if we don’t make these decisions now, there really is one outcome: We will almost certainly have to shut things down again.”
To try and prevent that, the mayor announced that the city will ramp up enforcement of the county’s current public health rules. “I have directed city departments to expand enforcement efforts for business that are still not in compliance with our public health protocols,” announced Garcetti. “And we will issue citations…and revoke permits for businesses who violate our requirements and put all of us at risk.”
He said building inspectors, police officers and employees themselves — via a tipline — would step up to help increase enforcement.
Another measure that could be an interim step before a full shutdown might be a curfew for businesses open late — like bars — where Garcetti said the virus is known to spread more freely. The mayor said he would support whatever decision the L.A. County Board of Supervisors makes when it takes up the issue on Tuesday.
Garcetti also announced an expansion of the city’s mobile testing program to provide COVID tests in under-served areas, as well as the establishment of testing at Los Angeles International Airport. In addition, the city will be opening a “super walkup” testing site in one of the region’s hardest-hit areas, the northeastern San Fernando Valley.
He said the exact location of the testing site is still being finalized, but it will be open by next Monday, with the capacity to provide 3,000 COVID-19 and flu tests, along with flu shots and rapid antigen testing for people showing COVID symptoms.
Asked if the city would provide additional renter’s assistance should more businesses be forced the close Garcetti said, “We will do everything we can to help, but the bottom line is: No, [not] without Washington D.C. stepping up…to aid us. If we get more money we will put that on the street.”
Garcetti made those announcements as L.A. County reported 2,795 cases on Monday — a day when case reports are traditionally lower due to a lag in reporting of results over the weekend.
The county has also seen a steady increase in hospitalizations. The number of L.A. County residents hospitalized with the virus surpassed 1,000 on Sunday for the first time in months, jumping from 966 on Saturday to 1,014, then up to 1,049 on Monday.
Another six coronavirus-related deaths were also reported by the county Monday, raising the death toll to 7,275.
Although the rate of deaths from the virus has not risen sharply, that number is considered a “lagging indicator,” meaning it tends to increase several weeks after a spike in hospitalizations.
Garcetti’s announcements came as California Governor Gavin Newsom placed 41 of the state’s 58 counties — comprising 94% of its population — under the most restrictive tier of his coronavirus reopening plan on Monday. Newsom also announced guidance for gatherings. It was meant to restrict events to just the members of a single household.
Los Angeles County health officials also warned on Monday of a doomsday scenario where the region would need to return to a blanket stay-at-home order.
“Over the next 3 months,” said Garcetti, “the only thing standing between this city and a worst-case outcome is us.”
City News Service contributed to this report.
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