Aug 6, 2020
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Press Conference Transcript August 5: Will Shut Off Power & Water to Large Parties
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference on August 5 in which he said he would authorize the city to shut off water and power where residents host large, illegal gatherings or parties. Read the full transcript here.
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Mayor Garcetti: (00:00)
Good evening Los Angeles. Tonight I want to talk to you about the power of partnerships, because it’s truly partnerships that have brought Los Angeles to this moment of saving lives and protecting livelihoods and I thank everybody who’s tuning in tonight for being partners in our effort. I’m proud to announce that today the City of Los Angeles and our partners have now administered more than 1 million tests to the people of Los Angeles City and County through our city testing sites. And it’s a pleasure to be joined by three leaders who are those partners and share in this threshold moment.
Mayor Garcetti: (00:56)
We’re here in Lincoln Park, the testing site that was made possible by a partnership at the beginning of this pandemic. And I want to thank Ann Lee, who many of you will remember as the Co-Founder and CEO of CORE for being with us. Fred Turner, who is the CEO and Co-Founder of Curative, our testing partner right here in Southern California that has given us an unprecedented partnership for any American city to be able to supply the tests that we need and turn them around quickly.
Mayor Garcetti: (01:23)
And of course our city’s Fire Chief, Ralph Terrazas, who has done an exceptional job with amazing men and women of this fire department, who together with CORE have made sure that testing is something accessible to all Angelenos. But before we talk about testing and how far we’ve come and where we’re headed, we’ve some important announcements tonight. I’d like to take a moment and share another announcement.
Mayor Garcetti: (01:48)
Ever since March 15th, when Los Angeles was the first city to shut down businesses where people gather, we’ve made it our mission to limit the spread of this disease and to limit the risk of lives and to our economy. We’ve been clear from the beginning that getting together in groups outside of your household that is not permitted is not allowed, and we’ve asked Angelenos not to gather or to have parties. I know this has been a tough ask because we’re Angelenos, we like to be with each other, we like to be around people. We want to see our friends and families and I know how tough these months have been for all of us.
Mayor Garcetti: (02:25)
Everything that we are doing though, everything that we individually and collectively are sacrificing depends on each one of us doing our part to reduce infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. And these sacrifices help us manage access to the economy and a paycheck to keep more businesses’ doors open. But all the sacrifices can be undone by those who refuse to follow the science and who refuse to follow the rules and put our economy and our community at risk.
Mayor Garcetti: (02:55)
Recently, we’ve seen the reports of some large parties and gatherings in flagrant violations of health orders. As our County Department of Public Health said yesterday, and I quote, “The highest risk settings are large in-person gatherings where it’s difficult for individuals to remain spaced at least six feet apart and where face coverings are not worn. The consequences of these large parties ripple far beyond just those parties. They ripple throughout our entire community because the virus can quickly and easily spread.”
Mayor Garcetti: (03:27)
While we have already closed all night clubs and bars, these large house parties have essentially become nightclubs in the hills. Many times the homes are vacant or used for short-term rentals, and beyond the noise, the traffic and nuisance, these large parties are unsafe and can cost Angelenos their lives. That is why tonight I am authorizing the city to shut off Los Angeles Department of Water and Power service in the egregious cases in which houses, businesses and other venues are hosting unpermitted large gatherings. Starting on Friday night if the LAPD responds and verifies that a large gathering is occurring at a property and we see these properties re-offending time and time again, they will provide notice and initiate the process to request that DWP shut off service within the next 48 hours.
Mayor Garcetti: (04:20)
To be clear, while we hope that you will avoid gatherings of all sizes, this enforcement is not focused on small and ordinary gatherings in people’s homes. These are focused on the people determined to break the rules, posing significant public dangers and a threat to all of us. Some research has shown that 10% of people cause 80% of the spread. These superspreader events and superspreader people have a disproportionate impact on the lives that we are losing and we cannot let that happen like we saw on Mulholland Drive on Monday night. In these cases we will not take action lightly and we will act carefully, but we will act and do whatever it takes to save lives and keep people safe.
Mayor Garcetti: (05:05)
But today is not about admonishing the few among us who are breaking the rules and putting our community at risk because we’re seeing some good news in the last two weeks. Today is really to celebrate also what we have achieved together, how we banded together as a city in the toughest of times. And crossing this 1 million test milestone is a moment for us to pause and to reflect how far we have come and to redouble our commitment to deploying every resource in the fight ahead in the months that we still have to face.
Mayor Garcetti: (05:36)
Early on, to remind you, LA stepped in to fill a national void when it came to testing. So we launched our own testing program, moving quickly to build a testing infrastructure from the ground up, something that we had never done before. And on Friday, March 20th, with one drive-through location in Elysian Park next to the fire training facility, the city began testing our first responders. On that first day, we are very proud that we tested 145 people. I remember because I drove by there, took some pictures, looked at the operation and was blown away with how quickly we had done this.
Mayor Garcetti: (06:11)
But by the end of the first week we tested 5,000 people at four locations across the city using an innovative swab test from a new company called Curative that freed up medical professionals to staff hospitals instead of administer tests and sparing Angelenos the discomfort of a nasal test. On March 30th, CORE joined us, Community Organized Relief Effort, teaming up with the city to help us scale up our testing sites. And less than one month later, Los Angeles became the first large city in America to offer wide scale testing to all residents with or without symptoms, and we did that in just 40 days from our first test.
Mayor Garcetti: (06:55)
This hasn’t been a race to blindly ramp-up testing. Along the way we’ve also looked at targeted testing to make sure that we could make decisions that got ahead of the virus, address gaps in our infrastructure and reach the most vulnerable Angelenos that we had. Early data showed us that COVID-19 was disproportionately affecting African Americans so we added four times the tests to reach our residents at the Crenshaw site. And today we’re seeing a disproportionate impact on the Latino community. With African American deaths outside of skilled nursing facilities, we’ve brought that down from almost double their population to under the population, the first city to erase that race gap among African Americans.
Mayor Garcetti: (07:38)
But now in the Latinx community, we are putting resources and CORE has scaled their response here in Lincoln Park testing site to meet more residents in need. When we saw outbreaks at our skilled nursing facilities we launched surge teams there, the first city in America to mandate monthly testing, go to all 135 places to make sure that testing was happening and where it wasn’t to provide them with the tests ourselves.
Mayor Garcetti: (08:02)
And we knew that Angelenos who were experiencing homelessness were among the most vulnerable. And so we looked at their increased risk, brought test to Skid Row and other places where Angelenos experiencing homelessness we’re in camp and we’re living to our shelters, and we were able to make sure that the positivity rate among people experiencing homelessness is lower than those of us that are housed. And right now we’re working with Curative to pilot kiosks for COVID testing that can each test up to 500 people a day where you can walk up in your own neighborhood to a kiosk, and by the end of the month we will have those up and running here in Los Angeles.
Mayor Garcetti: (08:41)
We’re offering more tests than ever before, 18,500 a day at eight city testing sites. And recently we’ve had same-day appointments ready and a regular turnaround time of 23 to 30 hours as we see average of seven to nine days around the country and some places as long as two weeks. Today though we see another challenge. And so we’re standing up to meet this challenge. We’re making testing available in the areas of the city where people don’t have access to vehicles for transportation, the same places we’re seeing some of the highest infection rates.
Mayor Garcetti: (09:15)
Early on, this was a disease that was hitting wealthier areas where people could get the tests and had traveled abroad and we’re bringing the virus back. Today it is increasingly becoming a virus of our lower income communities. If you are unable to drive to a test site, we’re coming to you. Our fire department has redesigned trailers with walkup windows that can test four people at a time, and Curative has launched its own testing van distributing COVID tests. We’re sending these resources all around the city in the places that are most needed and we’re constantly looking at the data to see which communities we’re seeing surges and how we can help ensure that we take those surges down.
Mayor Garcetti: (09:54)
This week our mobile units are coming to First and Soto, to Central and Vernon, to the Cypress Park Rec Center, to the Wilmington Rec Center, to Watts Civic Center and to the Strata Courts and Roseville Courts housing developments. And all of our upcoming pop-up testing sites as well as more than 100 testing locations from clinics to CVS sites, city, County and state sites are all available at our website, coronavirus.lacity.org/testing. If you can’t get on the internet just call us during business hours at 311 to make an appointment today.
Mayor Garcetti: (10:29)
Testing I’ll remind you is free whether or not you have insurance. And if you have insurance please give us the insurance information when you register. Insurance is not allowed by law to charge you for any copay, deductible, or any cost for testing. And remember, when you get a call or if you get a call from a county public health worker who is part of our contact tracing team please answer, or if you get a message call them back, lives depend on your response. They are not law enforcement, they will not ask you your immigration status, they speak multiple languages and they need to find out who you’ve been in contact with so we can together stop the spread and keep our economic recovery moving forward.
Mayor Garcetti: (11:12)
With that, I want to turn it over to our other three speakers. I’ll run through the numbers and a couple other announcements after that, but I’d like them to say a few words beginning with Ann Lee, who as I mentioned is the Co-Founder and CEO of CORE. And you can’t see but many of the CORE volunteers that are here today really have been the backbone of saving lives every day and I want to thank them personally for what they are doing. After that we’ll hear from Curative CEO and Co-Founder, Fred Turner, and then our city’s fireplace, sorry, Fire Chief. Excuse me, Chief Terrazas, Ralph Terrazas. Ann?
Ann Lee: (11:53)
Hi everyone, sorry. On my tippy toes. In early March, Mayor Garcetti with… Sure. In early March, Mayor Garcetti with the Los Angeles Fire Department mobilized to guard Angelenos and prevent surges on hospital systems. He acted with determination and without hesitation. You may not know this but the Department of Public Health is not a City of Los Angeles office. The city has neither the reigns nor the resources that sit under the county, the state and the federal government.
Ann Lee: (12:31)
Within Garcetti’s plan, we saw test sites throughout our city standup and which are now the most robust programs in the country. Angelenos joined and were fighting this pandemic with every available resource, both existing and newly invented ones. It gave rise to unprecedented partnerships to complement and supplement the mayor’s singular vision. Mayor Garcetti communicated directly to the public in both Spanish and English the need for and the purpose of testing, distancing, and masking. He worked with business leaders and took the national stage. He partnered with you, the people of Los Angeles and with his leadership we saw the best of our city’s resilience and will to sacrifice, to honor our social contract to care for one another.
Ann Lee: (13:22)
Jointly, we have to date tested over 1 million citizens in Los Angeles despite the void in national leadership. We stand here today as representatives of the nonprofit, the public and the private sector. As a nonprofit used to working in international disasters the biggest lessons learned is that there is no cavalry coming. We Angelenos, the city, the private sector and the nonprofit sector are the cavalry. No federal funding to date has supported any of these sites.
Ann Lee: (13:59)
But testing is only the tip of the spear, testing alone will not help us open the economy, it will not stop the preventable deaths we see tragically rising and it will not re-empower your lives alone. To do that we are asking our partners, the county, the state, the federal government, citizens, to meet us in this new challenge. We are asking the public at large to make the basic sacrifice, to mask, to distance, to test, and if testing positive, to quarantine and completely participate with contact tracers.
Ann Lee: (14:35)
We ask the county, the state to meet our now 48-hour test turnaround with contact tracing within 72 hours upon receiving a positive result and to support those who cannot quarantine safely if positive. My name is Ann Lee, and I’m the Co-Founder of CORE. We’re extremely proud and grateful to every single one of our staff members at our organization. We’re proud of our contribution and the role that it can play and I’m-
Ann Lee: (15:03)
We are proud of our contribution and the role it can play. And I’m moved by the leadership of the city of Los Angeles and the fire department and our partners in the private sector represented here today by Curative. Our joint teams work six days a week and are providing free testing. But without this coordinated commitment to masking, distancing, testing, tracing, and quarantining, we will continue to see lives and livelihoods lost. And we’re not out of the woods yet. We need everyone to pitch in, every single one of us has a role to play. We either decide to be a part of the solution or we’re part of the problem and will only get out of this crisis if each of us does our part, and this is our fight, and this is a fight for ourselves, so please. Thank you.
Fred Turner: (16:05)
Thank you. I’m Fred Turner, CEO and co founder of Curative. We’re really proud to have hit this milestone today of getting to one million tests in partnership with the city of LA in order to provide those across the city. Curative is really an organization that has grown up in the time of COVID. Back in March, we were a small company with fewer than 50 people, and it’s really been the partnership with the city of LA that allowed us to scale up. And since then, we’ve gone from doing thousands of tests per day when we first started to now doing over 60,000 tests today across the whole country, and we’re doing about 18,000 today, right now, in LA city, and we’re constantly trying to work with the city to figure out what the best ways to get more tests out there are. The turnaround time is obviously a really important issue and we’ve put a lot of time and effort into trying to make sure that our turnaround times are fast from when a sample gets to us in the lab.
Fred Turner: (17:12)
We’re averaging now about 20 hours to turn those around and from getting tested at one of the sites to getting a result back, we’re averaging about 30 hours in that turnaround time, we’re continuing to work on new ways of rolling out tests and getting them to people in the community. As [inaudible 00:17:30] said, we’d been working predominantly through these drive-through and walkup tests, but we’re now really working on new and innovative ways of getting tests to people. And this includes the mobile testing van, which can drive to communities, offer tests, and then move to wherever the next hotspot the testing is needed is going to be. And we’re excited to have that van out there now in LA and hopefully to continue expanding and having more vans and more testing sites. And we’re also excited to partner with the city on the first deployment of our kiosk system, which is a way of doing walkup testing that lasts for higher throughput and can collect about 500 samples per day.
Fred Turner: (18:16)
And we think this will be a great way of getting tests to people that can’t necessarily use one of the drive-throughs and making testing more of a part of our daily lives as we continue to fight this pandemic. So really want to thank everybody in the mayor’s office for the continued partnership and work on a scaling up testing and everybody at core and the fire department who have actually made this possible. We operate the labs, but without core in the fire department, scaling up the sample collection to the point that it’s now running in LA wouldn’t have been possible. And this is something that really is unique and is the first of its kind to cross the country to have large scale testing running at this kind of scale, and also just want to take the opportunity to thank everybody at Curative, who has come together over the past six months to build out testing at this scale.
Fred Turner: (19:16)
It’s an incredible team that we’re incredibly proud to have built and be a part of. Were just, I think, getting to the point where it’s getting a lot easier to get tested, but it’s going to continue to be a pressing need to offer tests. And for anybody who wants this has to be able to get tested. And so Curative has committed to continue scaling up our lab operations and continue trying to find new ways of making sure that everybody who needs a test can get tested all across LA. Thank you.
Chief Terrazas: (20:03)
Thank you mayor, thank you Ann, thank you, Fred, for the partnership and collaboration in achieving this testing milestone. Since the pandemic began in March, the men and women of the Los Angeles City fire department have worked closely with Mayor Garcetti, his staff, and the dedicated core volunteers to set up and operate COVID testing sites throughout the city of Los Angeles. This has been and continues to be a monumental effort and an effort that we’re very proud of. As the mayor mentioned yesterday, we surpassed the one million mark of people tested at this site in Lincoln Park. We have tested more than 100,000 people, and we test about 1500 people here every day.
Chief Terrazas: (20:50)
I’m proud that the members of LAFD were able to quickly and creatively answer the mayor’s call to be at the forefront of the city’s testing operation, not only were we able to establish public drive through testing sites throughout the city, but our firefighters and our civilian personnel and our core volunteers, we’re able to provide testing for skilled nursing facilities, our public safety partners, people experiencing homelessness, people living in public housing, the general public at popup locations, and even our firefighters who are actively fighting brush fires as we speak. This has been a huge effort, made more challenging by our daily call load of over 1300 calls every day. While we assist the state with major brush fires and remain prepared ourselves for the peak of brush fire season here in Los Angeles, which begins typically in September. I am extremely proud of the men and women of Los Angeles City fire department and the LFD and this truly innovative and collaborative effort as we continue to provide public testing for the people of Los Angeles. Thank you and stay safe.
Mayor Garcetti: (22:15)
Thank you so much Chief Terrazas. Thank you Ann and Fred, for those updates, this is what Los Angeles is about. It’s about government, the private sector and volunteers and community coming together to show the very best in our city, and the very best in our hearts as well. And I want to thank all of you because it’s the actions you take every time you wear a mask or clean a surface, wash your hands, physically distance or anything else that have helped save lives and bring us to where we are today. Let me catch you up on where we are today, because as we’ve seen, we have to stay vigilant, but when we do stay vigilant, when we do hear the message, when we go into orange and we know there’s a risk of going to red, we are taking the actions that are showing us that we can once again, just as we did earlier this year, not only flattened the curve, but I hope bring it down as well.
Mayor Garcetti: (23:06)
So here’s the data for today. We’ve taken small steps forward, they’re fragile and they’re important. And we can’t risk falling backwards. Importantly, hospitalizations are decreasing actually down by about 20% since our peak, nearly 500 fewer Angelenos in our hospital because of COVID-19 than before. Yesterday, we had 1,741 people that was down from just 1,904 on Friday. Our peak was 2,232 on July 18th. And as I mentioned, this is more than a 20% drop. And as of yesterday, 508 of those were ICU patients who are severely sick of 5.9% decrease in the last month and a 7.6% decrease from last week. Remember when we were talking about masks and whether we’d have enough PPE? Well today we have 200,000 N95 masks available for our first responders. 20,000 masks were handed out this weekend by LAPD officers in Hollywood and Pacific division to help people comply with the requirement to wear a mask in public.
Mayor Garcetti: (24:12)
And the County estimates that our transmission rate has held steady, even gone down a small amount from 0.92 last week to 0.91 today, still staying under that magical one threshold, meaning fewer than one person is being infected by a new person who has become infected. And it’s estimated that one in 510 Angelenos are currently infectious, also down from one in 450, just last week. This is positive news. It’s showing that our actions are working and it means that the last few weeks have made a difference. We must stay the course. As of today, 1.8 million people in the County have been tested. We’re celebrating the city million mark, but together with the County 1.8 million and the cumulative rate of persons testing positive stands at 10%. And here in the city of LA, the only way we can judge that is through our city drive through and walk up centers where our positivity rate in the city of Los Angeles is 7.1% is up slightly from 6.9% last week, but 7% is considerably below the threshold that is put forward by the state and also here county-wide.
Mayor Garcetti: (25:22)
Today, the County announced 2,347 new infections that brings the total to just under 200,000 at 197, 912 total cases and 941 of those were in the city of LA, where we now have 80,895 positive cases since this began. 1600 of the 2340 new cases in Los Angeles, not including Long Beach or Pasadena are among people under 50 years of age. That’s about 70% of all new cases. So make no mistake, COVID is taking a serious toll on younger Angelenos. And sadly the worst part of each one of these press conferences is to announce that 68 deaths the County announced today from the last 24 hours reported and 19 of these in the city of Los Angeles, as you’ve heard from Dr. Ghaly at the state and Dr. Ferreira at the County, I want to acknowledge that there have been systems issues and that COVID-19 cases in California are likely being underreported.
Mayor Garcetti: (26:26)
The city of Los Angeles, isn’t involved in that directly, but we’re trying to assist and help in any way we can. And the state and County I know are working around the clock to address this issue, but I want you to isolate immediately. If you think that you are sick, and if you receive a positive test quarantine immediately, please answer that call from contact tracers. And if you get a positive test result and don’t immediately hear from a contact tracer call them at 833-540-0473. And this line is open seven days a week from 8:00 AM to 8:30 PM. There’s so much hardship around us right now, and it can be tough to see anything more than the pain that each one of us is carrying. And I want to say something very briefly globally. We saw what happened in Beirut. We’re a sister city to Beirut Lebanon.
Mayor Garcetti: (27:17)
I traveled there in 2005 and 2006 to make that agreement and our heart aches with so many families that have connections with people who have lost their lives or who are hanging on. We’ll be lighting up city hall with the colors of the Lebanese flag tomorrow night and doing anything we can to assist them in their recovery. Here we still continue to have suffering from COVID-19, but I want to get back to Los Angeles and make an ask of every Angelino that you don’t lose sight of hope that is in the midst of these days. From neighbors who are donating food to people less fortunate, to doctors and nurses cheering COVID patients as they walk successfully out of a hospital cured. And I ask you to remember, even in this moment of trial, that we have the capacity to achieve the extraordinary to tap into the wonders of science and innovation technology and creativity that you see mirrored behind me to literally go above and beyond the bounds of what’s once seen possible.
Mayor Garcetti: (28:16)
Many of us this weekend saw a beautiful space mission, bring into focus the best of who we are and the power of the possible. Many Southern Californians worked on that and mission control was right here in Southern California. You see if we can get it right up there, if we can traverse the cosmos, then we can get it right down here on earth and show love and care and kindness to one another. So my fellow Angelenos and everyone listening, lead with love and as always stay safe, stay healthy and when you can stay home. Strength and love Los Angeles with that, I’ll answer questions. And then as always speak in Spanish. And John [inaudible 00:28:58] here is the pool reporter tonight.
Thank you mayor. The first question is from Emily Alpert Reyes of the Los Angeles Times. Last week, when the city council voted to authorize comprehensive cleanups around bridge housing sites, you indicated that this doesn’t mean that the city has announced we will do this. Since then, however, there have been comprehensive cleanups, including one in San Pedro, have you given authorization for comprehensive cleanups to resume? If not, who has the authority to direct the resumption of these cleanups? And do you support the resumption of these cleanups around bridge home sites?
Mayor Garcetti: (29:28)
Where we do have available beds? Yes, I do. And we saw that in San Pedro in our bridge home shelter, there are beds available today. And so that has always been, I think, a fair request. We have to make sure that we do cleanups regularly for public health. First and foremost, for people experiencing homelessness, where they have tents and other things can become public health emergencies for them as we’ve seen in recent years, second for public health at large as well. But as always, we go forward first and offer the beds that are there, allow people to bring their belongings back. And so we have to look at those as a case by case basis…
Mayor Garcetti: (30:03)
… bring their belongings back. So we have to look at those case by case basis. I agree with folks who say you can’t force people away from a place if there’s not a bed for them, where there are beds available, that becomes a fair proposition. In general, yes, we have to continue making sure that we meet the public health needs of keeping our sidewalks, our streets clean, but most importantly meeting with, sorry, leading with the same love I was talking about. That there’s a humanitarian option for folks experiencing homelessness.
Mayor Garcetti: (30:29)
As of today, we have more than 4,000 people in the city of Los Angeles during this pandemic who we’ve provided housing to with hotel and motel rooms in our shelters. And now we’re moving towards, and you’ll see this moving with myself and through counsel to getting some of the state money that allow for permanent exits. I’ll show you one statistic. A lot of people have asked also from the press, what happens to folks who have been in our shelters, 26 people left our shelters this weekend in our rec centers, 17 of them almost two thirds went to permanent housing or other shelters. So not back to the street and working with folks who are experiencing homelessness, which I’ve done for decades. That’s a really high batting average, and we’re going to continue to give those options as those beds free up. Give those beds to more people who are today on the streets. Thank you.
Next question is mine. Mayor, the death toll has hit 4,825 in LA County since the pandemic began. We’re approaching up a grim milestone, if you will, of 5,000 deaths that will likely be there in three to four days. I know you take pains to stress that these are people, not statistics, but could you address the magnitude of the toll of knowing that we’ve lost 5,000 Angelenos and this count is likely to continue to increase?
Mayor Garcetti: (31:40)
There’s no question that the deepest pain that we all experienced is those who have lost their lives because of COVID-19. I’ve lost people in my family. So many people listening have lost people now in their family. We’re a tight knit city and geography and across America people have felt that. While our numbers still remain way below cities that we saw on the east coast, where in some cases, 10 times as many people per capita have died. And while we dodged some of the huge increase that we saw in the Sunbelt, this is still part of the steady announcements each day. And we’re holding at that same level of deaths. There are going to be many more people that we lose, but I would just reiterate the only thing that gets me through that sadness is knowing that I can do something every day by putting on my mask and washing my hands.
Mayor Garcetti: (32:32)
I think as much as we talk about masks, when I talk to people we’ve stopped washing our hands as much or cleaning our surfaces, which allows us to not touch our faces and not spread this disease. That we can save lives every single day, you can be a volunteer in a testing center, or you can be just somebody wearing a mask. You can be a first responder transporting someone to a hospital to save their lives, or you can be somebody who keeps their distance. So to me, that is what gets me through that sadness. But yes, we have to make sure that we steel ourselves for those days ahead. This will not go away until we have a cure.
A couple of questions about the Mulholland mansion party. I’ll try to fold them into one. Phil Shuman from Fox 11 asks, why is there no apparent mechanism set up for enforcement of the emergency orders, banning the parties and large gatherings. The LAPD responded to the party in the mansion on Monday night, but did not enforce any of the emergency COVID-19 orders. And if not them who was responsible for enforcement? And then John Klemack of NBC Los Angeles asked if the city-
Mayor Garcetti: (33:39)
Ask if the city bears any responsibility for the murder at the house party on Mulholland drive, particularly since the LAPD was present and did not shut that party down.
Mayor Garcetti: (33:48)
So first on the second piece, we have to deal, unfortunately with homicides in the city all the time, and our law enforcement officers do everything and not just law enforcement officers, our interventionists and others to prevent and to intervene whenever they can. But we’re not able to stop every homicide, even though this year is on track to be one of the four or five safest years, lowest homicides in our city’s history. Second, I spoke this morning at the County and the city, as well as other cities about how do we have a mechanism for more joint enforcement? I know sheriffs had been called and LAPD had been called to parties where there’s dozens or hundreds of people. That’s a very tough assignment, which is why we looked for a mechanism that would shut these places down permanently. So I know that you probably had the question in before we made the announcement tonight, but by turning off that power shutting down that water, we feel we can close these places down, which usually are not one time offenders, but multiple offenders.
Mayor Garcetti: (34:49)
The same thing that we experienced with businesses, we would take officers sometimes to individual businesses at the beginning of this, they might do something that moment, but they’d be back up and running the next day. The only thing that was a permanent solution was the threat of, and the execution in some cases of actually turning off their water and power. So we believe that’s the best way that we can go there. And then lastly, where necessary, we do use LAPD officers or others to enforce the law. It’s not always a police officer though effectively at sometimes our building and safety department, it’s our environmental street inspectors. And of course our health inspectors that are part of the county. So we are looking at ways that we can more quickly enforce that without putting officers or deputies in any risk. And with making sure that it isn’t just a one time solution, but a permanent one in those places that can spread this disease.
Related question from Elex Michaelson of Fox 11, he asked what’s the constitutional argument for turning off the water and power? How do you justify this to those who are concerned about their private property?
Mayor Garcetti: (35:48)
You’re breaking the law just as we can shut you down for breaking laws. There’s the alcohol laws to bars when they were opened before this, or other things. This is a rooted in strong law from the city attorney, we have their opinion. We know we can do this and we don’t show up and suddenly shut people’s water and power off. But the city provides that to places that are in criminal violation of public health orders. We have the right to be able to make sure that more lives are not lost.
And related as well from Claudia Peschiutta KNX News radio. Did the DWP shutoffs supply only to repeat offenders or what can one large party do that? And related, she’d like free to comment on the party at Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood, where the LAPD, it says confirmed that at least two of its officers where there.
Mayor Garcetti: (36:38)
Sure. Yes. I mean, we can actually do the power or water shutoffs after a first violation, but as I’ve always said, we like to educate, then we like to encourage, and finally enforce. Usually we hit over 90% when it comes to encouraging people and letting them know that this is coming and can come. It’s only very, very few that are not compliant and we will enforce on them and we will refer them for criminal penalties where people are endangering lives. This is life and death. It might not be the same as somebody holding a weapon in their hands, but the risk that they’re putting people at is a risk for all of us. We have to make sure that we do not see these super spreader events pushing us all back in doors, closing businesses down, and ultimately taking lives.
Mayor Garcetti: (37:23)
In terms of the party at Sassafras. There’s an active personnel investigation going on about a Los Angeles Police Department. So I can’t speak in greater detail, but we are investigating that and looking at that, as well as ensuring that regardless of who was there, if there was a bar that was in violation in the indoor spaces of the closure, that penalties can come to them.
Question from Lexis-Olivier Ray from L.A. Taco, when the pandemic first hit back in March, the city rolled out hundreds of hand washing stations, firsthand testimonies and public records show that many of these stations have not been properly maintained with soap and water. With COVID-19 spiking again, what is the city doing to ensure that hand washing stations are functioning properly?
Mayor Garcetti: (38:05)
Absolutely. That was a problem early on. We surged another contract in there and had them be check now daily. But at that time it was weekly that they were being checked these hand washing stations, hundreds of them that we put out there. I guess the proof is in the pudding right now that we have a lower infection rate and a lower fatality rate among people experiencing homelessness than people who are housed. But if there’s any specific ones, please let us know. We can’t be out there all the time, but they are inspected. I believe now daily by our city staff. So it may be during the day, some of them run out of some equipment and we’ll be happy to try to surge more. So please let us know any of those locations, but it’s radically different than it was at the beginning of the pandemic and we’re going to keep those going.
Also, from L.A. Taco, Mariah Castaneda has two questions, one will LAPD officers be required to follow the same mask standards of the public and will that be enforced? And two rent was due four days ago, what are you doing or considering to support families that may be facing financial ruin or losing their homes due to COVID-19?
Mayor Garcetti: (39:03)
Absolutely. Let me start with a rent each, each night I talk about that whenever I give an address, because it really is where people feel the economic effect of this first and foremost. Let me start at the top, which is Congress. Congress has to step up and right now pass something. They gave America a 30% pay cut while they continue to earn the same amount of money. Every Senator that is working this week, didn’t have their pay cut by 30%. But they’re in action last Friday, as we went off an unemployment benefit cliff respectively gave a 30% reduction to Americans. That’s unacceptable and they better not go on vacation before we pass that. That’s where the solutions lie.
Mayor Garcetti: (39:40)
Secondly, they need to give more help, including cash payments to Americans for a second round. I support personally the universal basic income that would guarantee that every month until this pandemic ends for Americans. I’ve surged up a group of mayors together led by our mayor, Michael Tubbs of Stockton, who’s already started doing universal basic income there in that city. To push for a national coalition for universal basic income, starting during the pandemic. I’m in favor of that after a pandemic too. It’s shown to make the difference, help people make the rent, not starve, and be food insecure in United States of America. So while we can try to squeeze more blood out of the stone that’s local government, we have pennies on the dollar compared to the trillions of dollars our federal government has.
Mayor Garcetti: (40:23)
Second working with the state to ensure that the legislature assigns and the governor, sorry, passes, and the governor signs a moratorium, not just on evictions, but on any eviction proceedings in courts in California. Right now, the judicial council has said that there are no eviction proceedings, but there’s a lot of people living in secure with the moment that that ends. If there isn’t a legislative fix to that, they could find themselves in court being evicted that wouldn’t apply here in Los Angeles, where we have an eviction moratorium, but throughout California.
Mayor Garcetti: (40:55)
Third at the local level, when we do come to the end of COVID-19 months and months from now, we are going to put money behind lawyers. LA Represents is the free legal aid program that will defend tenants from illegal evictions and evictions when this ends so that we don’t find more people experiencing homelessness.
Mayor Garcetti: (41:13)
And then lastly, we stood up the city council and I, the largest rent assistance program in the United States of America, where we see a few million here, 10 million, 20 million there. In other cities, it’s $103 million. We have closed that period had 200,000 people apply, 100,000 of them qualify because they live in the city of Los Angeles and meet the basic requirements of this. To folks who have lost a job or an 80% or less of the area, median income and who need help for rent.
Mayor Garcetti: (41:42)
And if the Angeleno card experience is anything to bear about 50% of people drop off because they can’t get back in contact or they didn’t qualify. And we have enough money to fund 50,000 households. So we may be able to hit close to everybody who qualified and who were able to contact in that program. So we are putting our dollars behind it and stretching every last dollar we have, we are advocating for legal representation. We are making sure that the state steps up and does its part, but the national government needs to do something to make sure that it doesn’t just fall on local communities where the dollars are nowhere close to that, to prevent people from becoming homeless.
Two questions from Joel Pollak of Breitbart news. First Gallup released a poll today showing that most or 81% of black Americans quote “want police to spend the same amount of, or more time in their area,” given that strong opinion, does it still make sense to cut the LAPD budget? And second Congress has failed to agree on an extension of $600 federal emergency unemployment benefits. Do you think that members of Congress should still collect their salaries when millions of Americans, including Angelenos have been cut off?
Mayor Garcetti: (42:50)
The second question? No. And certainly not if they hit their vacation. I think as I mentioned before, when Americans got a 30% pay cut and members of Congress who opposed this, I think certainly the ones that oppose this the house has already approved that. We have democratic senators and even some Republican senators who would approve it. I’m confident on a floor vote, but those Republican senators holding that back from happening, who won’t agree to local and state aid. It’s time for the White House, Republican leadership in the Senate to get with the program. I don’t think that they should receive their income at the same level if they don’t. Here in the city. I gave up two months of my own salary at the beginning of this. I think if you don’t lead by example, you can’t understand what Americans are going through.
Mayor Garcetti: (43:36)
The first part. Look, I think that people obviously across the country want public safety, nobody doesn’t. And that includes overwhelming for people, police. But we also, I think can see overwhelming and polls as well, that this is a moment in which people are crying out for public safety, not just being on the shoulders of police officers to not always have a police officer answer every 911 call. When we have a mental health issue. When we have homelessness on our streets. We need to invest just as strongly in those solutions where clinicians, outreach workers, housing navigators, mental health professionals, and others can be there. So when we look at reallocating dollars, we’re not taking $150 million and moving away from public safety, we’re going to be investing it in proven examples. For instance, our gang reduction and youth development programs, which are a national and international model, give money and pay people who have been criminally justice involved, former gang members and interventionists who are trained. They are as responsible for bringing down our murder rate as the great police officers that they work alongside. And they depend on each other. So anybody who would dehumanize somebody in front of a badge or behind a badge, I think is wrong. I always lift up the stories of the heroic work that our police officers do. I’m going to lead on the police accountability and reform efforts that Los Angeles needs to do. Long before we had protesters in the streets, we were leading on that, reducing our police fatalities, or fatalities at the hands of police officers in half in just four years. We’re now 82 out of a 100 cities…
Mayor Garcetti: (45:03)
… in just four years, we’re now 82nd out of a hundred cities, biggest cities in America per capita, and we still have a way to go. Those things are not mutually exclusive. I think that people of all colors want a police department that serves them, and I think that we can do that by recruiting police officers from our community, by moving some things out of our police departments, and not putting so much on their shoulders, and ensuring that we make investments in communities of color that for too long this isn’t just about policing, this is also about wealth gaps, health gaps, education gaps, and I intend to lead on those conversations as well.
The final question comes from Victor Cordero of KRCA TV 62. “You’ve announced good news, given that the fact of the number of infections have decreased, but there have been reports that it is not all due to the precautions most of us are taking, and that due to some reports, it’s falling because the electronic system processing and counting the task has shown issues and is not backed up showing the true numbers. Can you comment on that [crosstalk 00:45:56]?”
Mayor Garcetti: (45:55)
Sure. I’ll do it in English, and then Spanish for you too, Victor, and then I’ll go to Spanish questions. That was the last one you said?
Mayor Garcetti: (46:00)
Okay. We don’t believe that it’s something that just happened the two or three weeks. The state has told us that these reporting problems may have been throughout. It would be, I think, wrong to conclude that somehow numbers have come down because the reporting system just in the last two weeks has changed. This is something that they’ve uncovered that probably has been with us since months ago because there’s so many laboratories that report. Curative is a great partner. We get those reports. We know they’re good, but the way they’re inputted into the state system hasn’t changed in the last two weeks, so there’d be no reason to believe that some sort of change in the last two weeks are what accounts for the reduction. That reduction is due to you, reduction is due to everyone taking this seriously once again.
Mayor Garcetti: (46:44)
[Spanish 00:46:44]. Everybody who’s tuning out in English, thank you for being with us, as always. I’ll probably see you on Friday next. Be strong. Be safe. With that, I’ll turn to my Spanish remarks.
Mayor Garcetti: (47:45)
[Spanish 00:47:45] Lincoln Park [Spanish 00:47:45] CORE, Fred Turner [Spanish 00:47:45] Curative [Spanish 00:47:45] CORE [Spanish 00:50:58] Curative [Spanish 00:51:00] Latina [Spanish 00:51:30] Lincoln Park [Spanish 00:51:36] California, Curative [Spanish 00:52:01] Cypress Park Rec Center, Wilmington Civic Center, Watts Civic Center [Spanish 00:53:06] Estrada Courts [Spanish 00:53:10] Rose Hill Courts [Spanish 00:53:11] gracias [Spanish 00:53:46] Dr. Ghaly [Spanish 00:55:18] [Dr. Farrell 00:55:20] gracias [Spanish 00:56:36]. Thank you, everybody.