Los Angeles will be the first city in America to have a partnership with UPS in order to deliver and pick up COVID-19 tests, Mayor Eric Garcetti said during his daily remote briefing on the city’s coronavirus response Friday.
Throughout the city, 5,000 people have been tested since Monday, and the mayor hopes to triple that number next week.
Garcetti directed all those who are experiencing symptoms and are among the most vulnerable to register for testing on the city’s website. However, the website indicates that all appointments are full.
Garcetti also announced that L.A. has identified what may be the first coronavirus case among the homeless population, and that the individual is now in isolation.
He emphasized that people should not be reluctant to house the homeless in their neighborhoods, as the virus spread among the housed population first.
When asked about the $2 trillion stimulus package signed into law earlier in the day, Garcetti said, “If we think this is going to get us through the rest of the crisis, Washington needs to sharpen their pencils and get back onto the next phase.”
But he went on to say that there are many important measures in the bill, including $30 million in funding that will keep services such as the Metro open.
After the L.A. County Department of Public Health closed all public trails, beaches and piers within the county Friday, the mayor reminded people not to be tempted to go outside as it gets sunnier and it feels more like spring, even as they get isolation fatigue.
“Stay home. It’s that simple. And I know it’s tough, but seeing our neighbors and loved ones die will be so much tougher,” he said. “This isn’t a hunch, it’s a fact: When you gather, you spread the virus. So do not gather.”
Garcetti announced that a text message would go out at 6 p.m. through the city’s emergency alert system, reminding people to stay at home. A similar alert was later sent out from the county as well.
The briefing came hours after a U.S. Navy hospital ship arrived at the Port of Los Angeles, bringing 1,000 hospitals beds to help local hospitals brace for a surge of COVID-19 patients.
“We are now better prepared to handle that surge of patients we know will walk through our doors in the days ahead,” Garcetti said.
The USNS Mercy is fully staffed and will provide treatment for non-coronavirus patients, in an effort to relieve hospitals and allow them to focus on treating and isolating those with the novel virus.
“This truly is mercy on the water,” Garcetti said, describing the ship and its surrounding area as a “COVID-19 free bubble” to remain free of anyone infected with the virus.
During his briefing, the mayor said there will be a point when there aren’t enough hospital beds.
“There will be a point where our capacity to meet the challenge will be overrun,” he said, adding that he believes it will eventually catch up.
On Thursday, the mayor announced two websites the city has set up to help residents — a directory of free and low-cost internet options and a partnership with garment manufacturers to produce medical gear and supplies.
The number of cases in L.A. County reached 1,465 Friday, after 257 more residents tested positive for COVID-19, health officials said. Five more deaths were reported, bringing the total to 26, according to Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health.
The percentage of infected people in the county who have died from the virus is 1.8%, Ferrer said at a Friday briefing.
KTLA’S Erika Martin contributed to this report.