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'Cancel everything': LA mayor enacts total shutdown

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Los Angelinos that "…it's time to cancel everything" as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the county.

Ari Hoffman Seattle, WA
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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told Los Angelinos in a public address on Wednesday night that "…it's time to cancel everything" as coronavirus cases continue to climb in the county.

Garcetti tweeted "The new year brings hope—for vaccines and for stopping this pandemic. But here's the truth: we're in for a long, hard winter. As the worst hits up, stay home as much as you can. Cancel any non-essential activities. Hunker down, LA. We'll get through this together."

"Our hospitalizations have more than tripled and are at a new peak. And, our deaths have nearly doubled, and they continue to rise," Garcetti said.

"These numbers don't reflect last week's record breaking numbers, they don't reflect yet the 'Thanksgiving effect' of time spent with families, when many people were gathering and traveling in defiance of public health warnings."

The order also states that, with some exceptions such as buying food, obtaining medical care and going to other essential businesses like automobile service "…all businesses within the City of Los Angeles are ordered to cease operations that require in-person attendance by workers at a workplace."

Businesses like Hollywood film production are allowed to remain in operation. Many of the city's recreational activities remain open, such as beaches, parks and public golf courses.

The new order also says that travel whether by foot, bicycle, scooter, motorcycle, car or public transit is prohibited, with exceptions for specific activities.

Garcetti pleaded with his city's residents to "just stay home" and to follow the stay-at-home order that took effect on Monday. "My message couldn't be simpler: It's time to hunker down… and if it isn't essential, don't do it," Garcetti said. "Don't meet up with others outside your household, don't host a gathering, don't attend a gathering. And following our targeted safer-at-home order, if you're able to stay home, stay home."

The mayor's strongly worded remarks come as California governor Gavin Newsom warns that the state is on the brink of a wider stay-at-home order. This after the governor was caught dining with guests including California Health officials indoors without mask at the French Laundry restaurant. San Francisco Mayor Landon Breed dined at the same restaurant in a group the day after Newsom.

On Tuesday, Los Angeles County health officials confirmed 7,593 new infections. The daily test positivity rate on Wednesday was 12 percent, up from 7 percent just over one week ago. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported 5987 new cases on Wednesday, bringing the cumulative total to 414,185. There are 2,439 people hospitalized with Covid-19.

Christina Ghaly, the Los Angles Director of Health and Human Services said that while the local hospital system still has 963 beds available, the number of ICU beds has dwindled to 122. However, staffing, not beds, is the crucial issue in the ICU. More specially-trained nurses and doctors are not easy to come by.

Given the current numbers and current "tight" staffing, Ghaly said the county's models show that, "We will have a shortage of ICU beds over the next 2-4 weeks." Forty new coronavirus-related deaths were recorded in the county on Wednesday for a total of 7,740 to date. Los Angeles recovery rates from the virus remain between 97 percent and 99.75 percent based on age demographics and pre-existing conditions.

Garcetti also announced that out of work restaurant employees would be able to receive a one time $800 payment from the Mayor's Fund. Meanwhile, a Los Angeles Superior Court ruling Wednesday said that the LA County health department must present the evidence it used to ban outdoor dining. Pasadena is continuing outdoor dining, and Beverly Hills is opposing the ban.

According to the Mayor, violating the order is a misdemeanor, subject to fines and imprisonment. He is asking the Los Angeles Police Department and City Attorney's Office to enforce it. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power can also shut off utility service for violations. No word yet on it any agencies intent to enforce the orders.

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