Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, spoke at a city briefing Thursday, giving guidance on the importance of wearing facial coverings to curb spread of the novel coronavirus.
“We want you to keep your respiratory droplets to yourself,” the mayor said.
The briefing comes after Garcetti, for the first time Wednesday, urged Angelenos to wear face masks when out doing essential tasks in public. He said residents should make their own masks, including from bandanas or scarves, so that medical-grade masks can be saved for hospital workers.
Ferrer echoed the importance and said that the facial covering may not protect the person wearing it, but will protect those around them. She said they weren’t recommending it previously because it wasn’t clear initially that there was spread by asymptomatic people.
She urged the general public not to use surgical or N95 masks because they are in short supply and needed for health care workers.
“There isn’t a single person in the general public who needs an N95 mask,” Ferrer said.
Garcetti also announced a new service Thursday that will add parking zones in front of restaurants and other food providers in order to help with pick-up and delivery. The new signs will be supplied and installed free of charge for restaurants that apply.
The Los Angeles Building and Safety Department inspected 1,912 construction sites since the mayor announced new operation guidelines Tuesday, to ensure the health and safety of workers.
“We will not be shy about shutting down work sites that do not comply,” Garcetti said.
After the mayor renewed his threat to cut water and power services for any non-essential business that remain open, he said Thursday that one of those unwilling to comply is a smoke shop that will face consequences.
Since the stay-at-home order was instituted last month, there has been a 59% decrease in traffic collisions, Garcetti said during the briefing. With car collisions dropping significantly, the city will set traffic signals on a late-night mode, he said.
As coronavirus testing continues to expand countywide, with nine different locations, there is still a shortage and priority remains for seniors and those with underlying health conditions.
The city has an inventory of 1,050 ventilators and 1,664 hospital beds, including 305 ICU, the mayor said.
Garcetti thanked the Los Angeles Unified School District for providing meals to students and said they distributed 435,000 meals just on Wednesday. The district also launched a hotline Thursday, operating from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays that can be reached at 213-241-3840.
Earlier Thursday, during a county news conference, Ferrer emphasized that social distancing is the best tool to curb spread of the virus and that people should stay home.
L.A. County reported a 15% increase Thursday over the previous day, with 534 new coronavirus cases and another 13 deaths, bringing the total number of patients to 4,045 and the death toll to 78.
The mayor has been holding a remote briefing every weekday and on Sundays at 5:15 p.m., live-streamed on his Facebook page in order to heed to social distancing rules.