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The number of coronavirus cases and fatalities continued to climb this week in Los Angeles. But Mayor Eric Garcetti says the rate of increase was slower than in recent weeks, and initial data suggests the region’s curve is flattening and beginning to bend back down.

That’s why it will be especially important for Angelenos to stay indoors this weekend — even amid record-setting heat, Garcetti said in his virus briefing Friday.

The mayor reminded residents that all city and county beaches, trails and recreation facilities are closed.

“There is a direct correlation between what you do this weekend and how long this will take and how many lives we will lose,” he said. “Keep that in mind and do the right thing this weekend. If you go out and hit the beaches and the trails, the ‘Safer at Home’ orders will last longer, more people will be sick and more will die. But if you stay home this weekend, our case numbers will drop and it will stop the spread of this virus and be able to start reopening the city sooner.”

Police and lifeguards will be patrolling beaches, but they’ll give warnings and ask for voluntary compliance. They won’t be “seeking to bring the heavy hand of the law down,” Garcetti said.

People have begun pressuring officials to lift stay-at-home restrictions — with some even gathering to protest in the street. But Gov. Gavin News says that even though social distancing is bending the curve, California has yet to meet most of the six benchmarks he set for reopening.

Los Angeles County released its own set of reopening requirements for the first time Friday: increasing capacity in the health care system; ensuring protections for people at risk; increasing capability to test, isolate and trace the virus; and maintaining physical distancing.

Testing will be fundamental in meeting the benchmarks, and important strides were made this week in expanding access — though it still isn’t as widespread as the governor’s plan requires.

Testing expands, hospitalizations stabilize — but virus is still spreading

In L.A. County, officials began offering testing to people without symptoms for the first time — though still not for all asymptomatic people.

Asymptomatic essential workers, including health care professionals and grocery and pharmacy workers, could get an appointment starting Thursday. And on Wednesday, public health officials said they would begin testing all residents and staff at the county’s more than 300 nursing homes, wether or not they have symptoms.

L.A. County also added three new testing sites this week, for a total of 33, Garcetti said.

The locations have tested a total of 106,000 people as of Friday, and now have the capacity to test 12,000 people each day.

Garcetti said estimates show L.A. County alone is conducting 10% of all coronavirus tests in America, even though it represents under 3% of the country’s population.

Anyone with symptoms or the respiratory disease can get a same- or next-day testing appointment at

In L.A. County, the number of cases is still doubling about every nine days, and the number of fatalities every eight, according to Garcetti.

In the city of L.A., there were 428 new cases reported Friday, bringing the city’s total to 8,450 — roughly 46% of the 18,517 cases reported countywide. Meanwhile, the city represents about 40% of the county’s population.

As of Friday, 848 coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in the county.

However, Garcetti said hospital admissions have begun to stabilize, providing a “glimmer of hope” amid increasing infections.

This week saw between between 200 and 300 new COVID-19 patients hospitalized each day, according to the mayor.

“This is a good number for us to stay under our capacity,” he said. “When we talked about flattening the curve, this is what we mean: Doing everything in our power to keep our hospitals from getting overwhelmed.”

The county has 1,205 beds available, including 242 intensive care beds, as well as 1,215 available ventilators.

New relief for nursing homes, California seniors

Nursing homes have continued to be hit hard by the outbreak, and 43% of all COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County are tied to the facilities. Officials on Friday also said they would begin requiring everyone to wear masks at such institutions.

In addition to county’s health officer order, Garcetti on Friday issued a companion directive for the city of L.A. to require its 80 skilled nursing facilities test all residents, staff and contractors for coronavirus every month.

Facility operators can request testing kits from the city’s emergency operation center, Garcetti said.

Starting Monday, L.A. is also doubling the number of mobile testing teams able to respond to nursing homes with suspected infections, from three to six, according to the mayor.

Newsom also offered some relief to seniors on Friday, announcing a new program that will pay California restaurants to deliver free meals to seniors. A similar program has already been rolled out in Los Angeles.

L.A.’s senior meals initiative enrolled 6,000 more individuals this week, for a total of 11,000. It’s nearly met its goal of serving 12,000 seniors, Garcetti said.

Angelenos can call 213-263-5226 to sign up.

The mayor said the partnership with Everytable has provided jobs to people who were out of work, and he hopes others can be hired as delivery drivers to support the governor’s initiative.

Angeleno Card gets clash influx from Middle Eastern nation

Garcetti said Thursday that another relief initiative, the Angeleno Card, will be expanded thanks to a $5 million donation from the nation of Qatar.

As of Thursday, around 1,100 of the prepaid cards — loaded with up to $1,500 each — were distributed to Angelenos who were below the federal poverty line before the pandemic and have lost income since.

The Angeleno Card was met with overwhelming demand, and more than 500,000 applications were submitted. The mayor says recipients are chosen at random.

The program initially expected to distribute 10,000 cards. But after the Qatar donation, officials plan to hand out 15,000 benefiting an estimated 45,000 people, Garcetti said.

This weekend, officials hope to raise more Angeleno Card funding with a telethon featuring a slate of A-list performers.

Dubbed All Together Now, the fundraiser will kick off at 2 p.m. Saturday and be streamed at

People scheduled to appear include Jeff Bridges, Smokey Robinson, Tim Allen, Carole King and Lisa Loeb.