‘There is no question that the pandemic has gotten worse’: L.A. mayor updates safer-at-home order as COVID-19 cases surge

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti updated the city’s safer-at-home order Monday to match the state mandated rollbacks on reopenings as coronavirus infections and hospitalizations rise.

“We made so much progress in March and April,” he said. “There is no question that the pandemic has gotten worse, here in L.A., across California and across this country… We did the right thing before. And now we have to do the right thing again.”

The briefing comes after Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered 30 counties, including L.A. County, to close indoor activities at fitness centers, places of worship, offices for non-critical sectors, personal care services, such as hair salons and barbershops, and indoor malls as COVID-19 cases surge.

All of the state’s 58 counties were also instructed to close bars and indoor operations at restaurants, wineries, tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment, museums, zoos and card rooms.

The closures come as L.A. County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 136,129 Monday, with 3,822 deaths, according to the department of public health.

“Let me tell you the bad news,” the mayor said during a Monday briefing. “We have never had as many people infected, or infectious. We’ve never had as many reported positive cases each day. We’ve never had as many people in the hospital as there are tonight as I speak to.”

Earlier this month, the mayor introduced a color-quoted infection threat level indicator that has since remained at the orange level, meaning there is an extremely high risk of infection and residents should take precautions and assume everyone around them is infectious.

“While the city of Los Angeles COVID-19 threat level remains at orange, we are on the border of going to red,” he said Monday. “It is up to all of us to make sure that we don’t.”

The red level would mean a required safer-at-home order would be reinstated and people will only be able to go out for essential activities. While the city is not there yet, Garcetti said a stay-at-home mandate could be reinstated if COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to rise.

For now, Garcetti said the only way to open up the economy is gradually.

The city of L.A. began accepting online applications for its Emergency Renters Relief Program Monday, aimed at helping renters impacted financially by COVID-19. But tenants received error messages when they tried to apply for $2,000 in rent relief.

“There was high volume at the beginning. Our tripwires worked the way they were supposed to; we went and made sure they were back up and running by the end of the day,” Garcetti said. “We had, I think over 150,000 applications in a high volume, but remember this is not first come first serve.”

Applications are open until midnight Friday.

And, the mayor said Monday that he will provide updates on assistance to L.A. businesses, particularly restaurants and personal care establishments “who need help right now,” later this week.

Earlier Monday, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that students won’t be returning to their classrooms when schools reopen on Aug. 18.

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