New coronavirus testing site to open Tuesday in South L.A., Garcetti says

Local News

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a new walk-in testing site in South L.A. and a campaign to help impoverished Angelenos during his coronavirus briefing Monday.

The address came after health officials reported 9,420 cases of the virus with 320 deaths across L.A. County. In the city of L.A., 113 new cases were reported Monday, raising the total to 4,205, Garcetti said.

The cases include 55 Los Angeles police employees and 17 members of the L.A. Fire Department.

The agencies each have one member who is hospitalized, while 15 police employees and eight fire employees have recovered and returned to work. The remaining workers remain isolated at home.

After expanding its offerings of drive-thru testing sites, officials are now working to better serve those without cars. The county’s first walk-in testing site opened a few weeks ago at Carbon Health in Echo Park, and a second will open Tuesday at Kedren Community Health Center in Historic South-Central, Garcetti said.

“This is very important because it’s the second move we’ve taken to serve African Americans and lower-income Angelenos, when we saw troubling statistics that this was disproportionally hitting black communities and low-income Angelenos,” he said.

There are now a total of 24 testing sites across L.A. County, which have tested more than 46,000 people, according to Garcetti.

Anyone with symptoms can visit coronavirus.lacity.org/testing to check appointment availability. The mayor also announced new websites Monday: coronavirus.lacity.org/myths to debunk false information about the local virus response, and coronavirus.lacity.org/data to provide daily updated figures.

Countywide, the number of cases is doubling about every 20 days. That figure is down from last week, when cases were doubling in seven days, the mayor said.

Meanwhile, hospitals still haven’t reached capacity, with more than 2,100 beds available including 531 in intensive care units.

And while such news is encouraging, Garcetti said, cases are still increasing — meaning social distancing measures will remain in place for the foreseeable future.

“If we take our foot off the gas right now and stop physical distancing, models show that our hospitals could be overloaded by May 12,” he said.

L.A. County’s stay-at-home order will remain in place until at least May 15, after it was extended last week. Public health officials say if the county ends social distancing rules now, nearly everyone will be infected by summer.

“I don’t have to tell you what that would do to our health care system — how many people would die because we didn’t have enough beds,” Garcetti said. “So the only way to stop that from happening is to continue to stay safer at home.”

The mayor hasn’t given a specific timeline for when he expects restrictions might end.

Also on Monday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said California will collaborate with Oregon and Washington on a timeline for reopening the states’ economies. But details on the plan have yet to be released.

With many Angelenos facing at least another month of lost income, the mayor announced an initiative to offer a no-fee debit card that will provide cash to residents who were beneath the federal poverty line before the COVID-19 crisis, and who had their income reduced at least 50% due to the outbreak.

The Angeleno Card, a partnership between Mastercard and the nonprofit Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, will come with $700, $1,100 or $1,500, depending on the household’s income and size, Garcetti said.

Undocumented Angelenos are eligible to apply.

Applications will be taken between 8:30 a.m. Tuesday and 4:30 p.m. Thursday at hcidla.lacity.org or by calling 213-252-3040.

Since the program is being funded entirely through donations, the recipients may have to be randomly selected if there’s high enough demand. To donate, visit mayorsfundla.org/angeleno/.

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