After mixed messages and delayed response to the potential risks of the Coronavirus, the White House finally declared a national emergency today, which should free up funds to limit the spread and help those ill and in need. Earlier today, Mayor Eric Garcetti made an appearance on MSNBC to answer questions that matter specifically to Angelenos, providing information on our local government’s response plans and highlighting some important new information.
“These are the most critical days we have. We will look back on this period and these will be the make-or-break days,” Garcetti told MSNBC’s Craig Melvin. “And not just what we do from government, but what we do as individuals in social distancing, listening to the advice that we’re getting and making sure we save our families, our friends and our neighbors with our actions today.”
While Governor Gavin Newsom recommended that events of over 250 be canceled, Garcetti said the number should be closer to 50, because “talking to public health officials — these next few days, the flattening of the curve — it either ramps up quickly or we can push it off to a better time of the year where there will be fewer cases,” adding that, “we shut down City Hall except for those employees that were there for public meetings.”
“This is amazingly a time when people are being good to each other, helping each other,” Garcetti stated optimistically. “We’re seeing the best come out at least, at the local level, and across America and certainly here in Los Angeles. ”
The homeless population in L.A. (58,936 in L.A. County and 36,165 in city of L.A.) has been a growing concern as fears about virus spreading increase. “That was one of my greatest concerns, along with our elderly and folks that have pre-existing conditions,” Garcetti explained when asked about the homeless problem. “We’ve been out on the streets for weeks. We’ve put out dozens of sanitation centers where people can wash hands [and] get clean. We also are setting up plans — if we see this on the streets, which we think we will, to immediately triage those folks and take them from areas that are encamped, so we can bring those folks to places where we can be treating them.”
“We have doctors that are going into tents on the streets and all of the workers that usually do outreach on general services are really focused on COVID-19 with our Angelenos and our brothers and sisters who are unhoused today,” he added. “This is a crisis that could spread on the street quite quickly.”
In terms of the economic impact on L.A. residents, Garcetti said he is “very concerned,” about it. “We’ve seen it at the Port of L.A. which brings in about 43 percent of the goods that come into America, with folks who have lost work — truckers, and of course small business.”
To help soften the blow, Garcetti added that he is looking at an “eviction moratorium” so no one will be kicked out of their homes and ceasing any utility cutoffs. The interview ended with the mayor emphasizing the need for more testing in LA. and stating, “You cannot prepare for a crisis if you are responding to a crisis.”
See the full interview here.