Signs warn Westlake, Pico-Union residents they live in a ‘high-risk area’ for COVID-19

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Signs posted in the Westlake and Pico-Union neighborhoods warning of the high rate of COVID-19 transmission in the area are seen in photos provided by the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Signs posted in the Westlake and Pico-Union neighborhoods warning of the high rate of COVID-19 transmission in the area are seen in photos provided by the office of Los Angeles City Councilmember Gil Cedillo.

Officials have erected 30 signs in the Westlake and Pico-Union neighborhoods, warning residents they live in a “high-risk area” for COVID-19 transmission.

The A-frame sidewalk boards detail in both English and Spanish the best precautions to take for avoiding infection and spreading the coronavirus, as well as information on how to access testing. They were set up by the office of City Councilmember Gil Cedillo, whose District 1 covers parts of northeast and central Los Angeles including Pico-Union and Westlake.

The district has recorded around 7,000 cases and 300 deaths, Cedillo said. That’s nearly 8% of virus-related fatalities countywide, despite the district accounting for about 2% of the county’s population, according to city controller and county public health data.

And of the district’s deaths, 183 have been in Pico-Union and Westlake. So Cedillo’s office focused the signs on those neighborhoods, setting them up at Sixth Street and Bonnie Brae, on Pico Boulevard at Union and Vermont avenues, and on Alvarado Street from Seventh to Sixth streets.

“We think it’s very important to make people aware of the dangers that exist right now during the pandemic,” the councilmember said. “There’s no value in soft-selling the conditions that we’re in.”

Cedillo pointed to the area’s “incredible density,” where he said 14 people are sometimes crammed into to a two-bedroom unit, many of them essential workers.

“Particularly in this district, we’re met with challenges of poverty, immigration status and density,” he said. “Those factors add to the possibility and probability that you’ll be adversely impacted by COVID-19. Because of that, we think it’s important to let people know, what are the dangers and conditions that we’re living in, so that they will do the things that are necessary.”

Cedillo says the signs are meant to inform residents of the best way to protect themselves and others: using a mask, social distancing, frequent hand-washing and, when necessary, self-quarantining and getting a COVID-19 test.

“We must recognize this as the pandemic that it is,” he said. “We can’t be political about it. We can’t take it lightly.”

The number of new coronavirus cases reported in L.A. County continues to skyrocket, with more than 2,000 infections added daily becoming the norm. On Wednesday nearly 2,800 cases were reported, a day after the county set a new record with 4,244 cases.

More than 143,000 cases have been confirmed countywide. And the death toll is nearing 4,000, with 3,936 total fatalities as of Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, 2,193 people were being treated for COVID-19 at L.A. County hospitals — more than any other day during the pandemic.

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