On Thursday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city may enact stricter business limits and more closures for certain types of businesses if COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise.
Los Angeles County, which reported over 16,000 new cases on Friday alone, has had some of the highest rates of infection in the world in the past few weeks, seeing more cases per day than entire countries such as Mexico and Spain. As there are now over 600,000 confirmed cases in the county it has now infected, as the county has 10 million people, 1 in 20 residents who have had it at some point since March.
COVID-19 Daily Update:
December 18, 2020
New Cases: 16,504 (596,721 to date)
New Deaths: 96 (8,757 to date)
Current Hospitalizations: 5,100 pic.twitter.com/OGrgZf1u6J
— LA Public Health (@lapublichealth) December 19, 2020
The rate has gotten so bad that ICU availability at LA County hospitals hit 0 on Thursday.
For Mayor Garcetti, the county’s battle with COVID-19 also took a personal turn on Thursday when the Mayor revealed that his 9-year-old daughter, Maya, had the virus.
“On Monday, while I was at work, my wife called to let us know that our beloved daughter, Maya, wasn’t feeling very well,” Garcetti said during an at-home speech on Thursday. “And after she came down with a fever, we had her tested for COVID-19, and her results came back positive. Maya is doing fine and her symptoms are mild. My wife and I have both been tested and our test results have come back negative. Our family is incredibly careful and what’s happening in my home this week is playing out across Los Angeles and this country.”
Join me live for the latest updates on this critical phase of the COVID-19 pandemic and our local response to keep Angelenos safe. https://t.co/mSnl3vTXz8
— MayorOfLA (@MayorOfLA) December 18, 2020
The Mayor then segued into the hard COVID-19 data for the entire county.
“We’re seeing a seven-day positivity rate of an alarming 19.6%. Some of our sites have a positivity rate as high as 30%,’ added the Mayor during his announcement. “For L.A. County, the seven-day rate was 13.7%.”
Public health worry, economic worry
Mayor Garcetti also noted that due to these statistics, as well as other grim facts such as LA seeing around 100 people dying a day now, that the city is now considering greater COVID-19 restrictions due in part to the extra strain that has been put upon hospitals in the county.
“Some hospitals can convert non-emergency spaces into ICU spaces, but other hospitals can’t,” noted Mayor Garcetti before mentioning that ambulances, which have been waiting in some cases for 5 and 7 hours outside of ER’s to drop off patients, have been rerouted often in recent days.
“The Mayor said that he may be calling for an emergency declaration because of this spread,” noted Dr. Monica Chan, a doctor in Southern California who has seen her share of COVID-19 patients, in a Globe interview. “Do it. Do whatever is needed. I know people are hurting for work, but they’re not the ones seeing people struggling to breathe and dying alone on a ventilator after their lungs were destroyed.”
Others worry what this would do to the city economically.
“Garcetti was really vague about closures,” LA small business finance coach Geraldo Montez told the Globe. “Who knows how far a declaration would go? It likely wouldn’t stop all take out and delivery, but any store where you could physically walk in would likely be down for the count. There’s really just not that more to close without doing massive damage, and they’re actually mulling it over.
“We don’t want to see deaths here, but if the government isn’t stepping up in protecting businesses or offering relief of sorts, what are they to do?”
Garcetti said that while the economy is important, he doesn’t want mass deaths to occur in the city either.
“We put in stricter measures so we don’t have to have those harrowing visions of doctors deciding who gets that last ventilator and who doesn’t. If this carries on for the next three to five weeks, our health care system will have nothing left.”
Should COVID-19 rates and death figures stay high, advanced emergency orders could be given as soon as after Christmas.
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