As cases of novel coronavirus continued to mount in Los Angeles Thursday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti outlined an expansion of the Angeleno Card program and other efforts underway to soften the blow of the pandemic for Angelenos.
The city saw 471 new detected cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 8,022, Garcetti said. That represents a 6.3% increase in cases since Wednesday.
Infections across L.A. County, meanwhile, topped 17,500, with 797 deaths attributed to the virus, according to Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials.
“Another dark threshold that we crossed is that COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death in L.A. County, above heart disease and above emphysema,” Garcetti said.
The county is equipped with over 1,300 hospital beds, 264 of which are in intensive care units, along with more than 1,200 ventilators.
The city’s testing capacity has grown to 12,100 people per day, and by the end of the day Thursday, Garcetti said more than 100,000 tests will have been issued in Los Angeles.
Garcetti thanked the government of Qatar for the “truly generous humanitarian gift to Angeleno families.” He said the gift had special meaning, as it coincided with the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
Donations of $1 million from two Taiwanese American entrepreneurs through the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in L.A. will also go a long way to help the cause, Garcetti said.
More than 1,100 of the prepaid Angeleno Cards, loaded with up to $1,500 each, have been distributed just over the past two days, Garcetti said.
The no-fee debit cards, “totaling $1.1 million, were placed in peoples hands already,” he said. “We’re going to be doing that every day.”
But while the program initially called for a total of 10,000 cards to be distributed, officials now plan to hand out 15,000 of them, according to the mayor, benefiting an estimated 45,000 people.
Those who receive the cards will be selected from the more than 500,000 people who have already turned in applications, he added.
The news comes as the head of the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles nonprofit stepped down from his position Tuesday.
The mayor also commended the City Council for expanding the city’s rent freeze to cover the majority of rental properties on Wednesday, as well as a new local anti-price gouging measure.
Efforts to provide COVID-19 tests to the homeless have also been beefed up in recent days, with more than 500 tests administered so far, Garcetti said.
The mayor reminded all critical workers that they are able to get same-day testing, a service that the city implemented Wednesday. Those interested were urged to speak to their employers.
“If you qualify, do yourself, your family and your city a service, and get tested,” Garcetti said.