Apr 29, 2020
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 29
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti held a press conference on coronavirus on April 29. LA is becoming the first major US city to offer free testing to every resident.
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Eric Garcetti: (04:41)
… family, your community and for one day, us making forward motion to getting back to normal. Today the county reported 1,541 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases to 22,485, a 7% increase since yesterday. For comparison, in the past seven days, we’ve seen an average daily increase of 886 new cases a day. As I’ve said, these are the reported cases in the last 24 hours. It doesn’t mean these are the cases that have become positive in the last 24 hours. We smooth these numbers out, some days higher, some days lower to an average. That helps us know exactly where we are today.
Eric Garcetti: (05:26)
In the city of Los Angeles, there were 683 new cases. That brings the total to 10,380, a 7% increase as well. We learned of 56 new deaths countywide, bringing our total to 1,056. This is a 6% increase since yesterday and for comparison, we’ve seen about 47 deaths per day for the last seven days. Across the county, our general emergency hospitals have right now 1,276 beds available including 1, 018 acute care beds and ICU beds are at 258 available as well as 1,091 available ventilators. This continues to hold good numbers, making sure that we haven’t exceeded our capacity even as our cases continue to grow.
Eric Garcetti: (06:18)
Public health report, sorry, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department also released a very important report that I hope you will check out, but let me summarize a couple of things. It talked about breaking down the number of COVID-19 cases here in Los Angeles and deaths by neighborhoods. These numbers showed us that on the whole working class Angelenos and those living in poverty are suffering disproportionate rates of infection and some of the highest rates of death per capita in our county. In analysis of the data that LA Times noted, that some of our lower income neighborhoods in central Los Angeles are losing more than 40 people for every 100,000 residents, a rate four times higher than the county as a whole. Many longterm care facilities are located in lower income areas and we think that’s a part of this.
Eric Garcetti: (07:10)
In this new data and part of it reflects the tragic reality that this virus is hitting our elderly population especially hard as well as those who are comorbid, a technical term meaning people who have preexisting and vulnerable conditions. But it also tells a story that I’ve tried to paint in these briefings, that this pandemic has created new injustices and highlighted old ones. That while the virus can infect everybody, it doesn’t affect everybody equally. It lays bare long standing inequities in our city, on our country, trends that are the result of generations of neglect, discrimination and bias. That’s why equity and access have guided our work since the very beginning and why we’ve worked to quickly expand testing in those neighborhoods that are hardest hit because along with hand washing and disinfecting, covering our faces and physical distancing, testing is one of the best tools that we have to stop the spread of this virus. That’s a truth we realized from the very start of our fight against COVID-19 and we acted swiftly to ramp up testing in everywhere in Los Angeles.
Eric Garcetti: (08:16)
Early on in this crisis, LA stepped in to fill a national void and we launched our own testing program. We started 40 days ago quickly moving, building a testing infrastructure from the ground up and I’d like to take a moment to lay out the scale of that so that you can appreciate the hard work of all the volunteers and firefighters, city officials, county officials who have worked to make sure that there are tests available to those who need them. It was Friday, March 20th starting in a parking lot in Elysian Park that the city began testing our first responders and on that first day we had the capacity to test 145 people. It seemed like a big number at the time. It was a small number in retrospect, but it was an important milestone that kicked off a massive scaling effort. Not one day went by when that effort didn’t continue to expand our capacity.
Eric Garcetti: (09:05)
That first week, by March 27th, we tested 5,000 people at four locations across the city. On March 30th, community organized relief effort or CORE, teamed up with the city to help us scale at our testing sites in Northeast Los Angeles, South Los Angeles, and on April 1st we were joined by the county to expand testing for people across the entire county of Los Angeles. On April 3rd, we were up to 12 testing locations across the county, including six within the city with the capacity to test 3,500 people in a single day. A week after that on April 10th, we nearly doubled our testing locations and capacity surging to 22 locations and 6,000 people per day.
Eric Garcetti: (09:48)
Now, we said we’d double our capacity again and by April 17th we were up to 12,000 people per day. Today we’re at 34 testing sites with the capacity to test 18,000 Angelenos every single day. Over the past month we’ve tested over 140,000 people just through those centers. Let me put that in perspective. In the United States, the COVID tracking project estimates there are approximately 200,000 tests a day. In Los Angeles County where we just have 3% of the population of the nation, we have the capacity to conduct roughly 9% of all tests in America. This hasn’t been a race to blindly ramp up testing. Like scientists working around the clock right now to find a vaccine and therapeutic drugs that can help with this crisis, we have made targeted testing decisions to help us ramp up in the right way with the right populations.
Eric Garcetti: (10:43)
Early data showed that COVID-19 was disproportionately impacting African-Americans, so we quadrupled the size of the Crenshaw site. We opened up a walkup center in Kedren Community Health Center and through our partnership with the county, new sites were added in Inglewood, Charles Drew University in Willowbrook, and we saw outbreaks at skilled nursing facilities. We surged teams and tests to those folks where our grandparents and parents might be and where our vulnerable seniors live. We became the first big city and maybe even the first city in America to mandate monthly testing be available at all of those skilled nursing facilities. We know that unhoused Angelenos, many of whom have underlying conditions are both susceptible and vulnerable. Susceptible because they’re on the streets, vulnerable because of their preexisting conditions. We stood up a testing facility on Skid Row, which in nine days has tested more than 600 people. Just three of those so far have been positive. We have increased our testing capacity, but we have to keep doing more.
Eric Garcetti: (11:47)
I’ve been driving my team since the beginning. I want to thank all of them, are led by Jeff Gorell, our deputy mayor, led by Dr Eckstein, his counterpart, Dr [Cazan 00:11:57]] and all the folks at Public Health and Health Services and the county as well as cities who have helped stand this up together with CORE and other volunteers. As long as this disease spreads, we have to continue to scale and as long as this disease takes lives, we must test. We know that coronavirus is a silent killer that moves quietly through the population and many of the people who transmit the disease, this is why it is so deadly, don’t know that they have it. We call it asymptomatic, but let’s just say they don’t have symptoms. They’re infectious, but they’re not showing any symptoms and this illustrates why making testing available to anyone who wants it is essential.
Eric Garcetti: (12:39)
We heard national leaders talk about that in early March, but it’s been difficult for folks to scale that up, which is why tonight I am so proud to announce that Los Angeles will become the first major city in America to offer wide scale testing to all of its residents, with or without symptoms. We did that in just 40 days. All of the things I’ve been talking about, worrying whether you work in a critical sector, whether you have symptoms or not, moving forward in the city of Los Angeles, you will be able to, whether you have symptoms or not, get tested. Those with symptoms, will of course have the first priority, but we have the capacity we believe to move forward with that starting tonight. If you think you might have COVID-19, want the reassurance that you don’t, if you’ve been around people that you have seen with symptoms, get a test. We can do it.
Eric Garcetti: (13:36)
I want to remind everybody, these tests are free for the public, no cost at all to you, but you can’t put a price on the peace of mind of knowing that you can’t infect somebody around you. Sign up tonight at coronavirus.lacity.org/testing. We have the capacity, so don’t wait, don’t wonder and don’t risk infecting others. This is a really important step to prepare for other steps forward in the weeks to come.
Eric Garcetti: (14:07)
We want everybody to be safer at home, but for some folks, we know that home is not necessarily a safe place due to domestic violence. Los Angeles’ domestic violence shelters typically house survivors and help them get to other housing within 30 to 45 days across a network of a thousand beds. But as a result of this pandemic, obviously people had to stay in place. There’s no place for them to go. And those beds were full. A lack of available beds for new individuals seeking help and seeking hope suddenly dried up. That’s a problem that our LAPD has seen, a spike in daily domestic violence calls. We have to meet this incredible need and ensure that survivors of domestic violence are met with critical care and support and do not become homeless as a result of this violence. And that’s what we’re doing. I mentioned it before, but let me spell it out. Rihanna, through her Clara Lionel Foundation and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter through his start-
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (15:03)
… and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, through his Start Small Initiative, they stepped forward and they donated $4.2 million to the Mayor’s Fund to launch Project Safe Haven, which will house up to 900 families over the course of the next three months. I thank them both for their hearts, for the speed with which they did this, and the ability to save lives as we’re saving lives. And I want to recognize a dear friend and the President of our Library Commission, Mai Lassiter, who played an instrumental role in getting this done. Thank you, Mai.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (15:35)
Contracts have been executed between the Mayor’s Fund and nonprofit organizations to provide case management, wraparound services for the 900 domestic violence survivors identified, and I’m very grateful as well to Lyft, which has stepped up and generously donated vouchers to transport these individuals and their families to these safe havens. So if you’re a survivor of domestic violence or you’re a victim tonight, we’ve got a resource to help you. Reach out. As I mentioned, you can text 911 if you feel that you’re in a dangerous situation. Call 911 if that is available to you, or go to coronavirus.lacity.org/dvresources to learn how you can get the support that you need and that you deserve.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (16:18)
One individual who was placed into safe housing by the other day had been forced into prostitution by an abusive partner. She and her son, who suffers from autism, were in a horrible, dangerous situation, but she reached out and Project Safe Haven was able to place her in safe accommodations. Out of danger, she said, and I quote, “I can’t believe people care enough about me to give me this opportunity.” I want her to know we do care about you. You, and any other survivors that are out there right now. I want every domestic violence survivor to know we care about you. Your safety is not an opportunity. It is your right, and you’re not alone, and Los Angeles is here to help in the midst of this crisis.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (17:07)
Every step we’ve taken during this crisis comes from a central impulse to protect the people of Los Angeles. That’s why we’re extending protections to survivor of domestic violence. That’s why today I signed into law both a right of recall ordinance and a worker retention ordinance, which will ensure that workers who are hardest hit, in those hardest hit industries, who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19 will be the first in line to get their jobs back once rehiring begins. And I want to thank council president Nury Martinez and her colleagues for leading the charge to get this passed through the City Council, and for her relentless advocacy on behalf of workers across Los Angeles.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (17:48)
There’s no doubt that we will feel the impact of this pandemic for some time, and the road to recovery will be long, but it’s never too early to begin planning to put people back to work. From our hotels and our airports, from our restaurants and entertainment venues, LA’s workers bring our city to life. It doesn’t just happen magically. It happens because of hard work, and we want to reward that hard work moving forward. So let me make this commitment to you. The workforce that’s been furloughed and is working without pay, in your moment of need, we will honor your experience. We will not let you be undercut by newer and lower wage workers. We will protect your jobs and your livelihoods. We owe you nothing less. As this crisis continues, my friends, I know it’s tough not to start to grow restless. Everybody wants to know how this moment ends. They want to know when this moment ends, how we can emerge from this darkness, and what our brighter future, our new normal might look like. You welcome me into your homes every single night through this address to offer answers, and ideas, and solutions, and I promise you that every detail that I have, I share with you as soon as possible.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (19:02)
So I promise in these coming days, as we get close to May 15, which as I say each night is not some magical flip of the switch or an opening of the doors and going back to what it was like before, but will be the beginning of our first steps out if these numbers hold, that we will plan those things openly and together with our county, hopefully within our region, across cities, and of course communities as well. That whatever it takes to flatten this curve, to keep strengthening our response, and to eventually start reopening our economy, to begin the long, hard work of both recovery and re-imagining, some of the days this week we’ll be talking a little bit more in depth about how we do that.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (19:47)
And look, I’ll be straightforward. Just as an Angeleno, I know it can get confusing. You hear some things at the national level, and the state level, and the county level, and from a mayor. I try to synthesize all of those because I find them all helpful. What Governor Newsom has brought in his leadership, which has been tremendous, what we hear from national leaders who can give us guidance, and working closely together with my fellow 88 mayors across this county and our neighboring mayors up and down the state. We have you in mind. We want to make sure your safety comes first, that we don’t make a misstep that results in crowded hospital corridors, more people dying, but that we also don’t throttle the future and see opportunity disappear, something we can never recover from or rebuild from.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (20:33)
So I want to thank you for your patience. I want to thank you for your persistence, and let you know that towards the end, when we look at these days, the two weeks that are leading up still to the May 15 deadline, it’s like the end of a race when you feel tired. I know the temptations are to get out there. Temptations are to maybe sneak away and do something that you know you shouldn’t. We have to finish this race strong, and there’s another race waiting the next day. As I mentioned, this won’t stop anytime soon. It’s going to be a series of sprints for a year or more.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (21:07)
But I’m confident in you. I’m confident in your generosity. I’m confident in your strength and resilience. I’m confident in your discipline, because the numbers don’t lie. LA has saved lives, and we’re going to need those same qualities to continue saving lives and rebuilding livelihoods. So let’s keep it up, and stay safe, and stay healthy, and stay at home. Thank you, Los Angeles. As always, much love and strength to each one of you.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (21:36)
With that, I’m happy to answer questions. First question please.
Speaker 1: (21:41)
First question is from Laura Nielsen with LA Times.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (21:47)
Laura Nielsen: (21:50)
Hi there. Hi, Mayor. Thanks for taking my question.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (21:52)
Laura Nielsen: (21:52)
So as you know, dozens of cities around the world, including many in the US, including New York, Denver, Oakland, San Francisco, Bostonm have started restricting car traffic on some streets to give people more space to walk and bike and maintain social distancing while they’re outside. Why hasn’t LA done this?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (22:10)
We are going to. I’m very supportive of that. We have a working group across the city. I think it’s really critical how we do it and when we do it, that we not … As we saw at the beaches, there are some places, Australia’s opened their beaches from 6:00 to 9:00 in the morning to exercise. It’s been a successful way to open beaches. We saw pictures in Orange County that looked maybe potentially less successful this weekend. So it’s very important not just that we take action, but we do it the right way. So we have a working group right now that includes my office, council members’ offices, our Department of Transportation, our Bureau of Street Services known as Streets LA, and I do hope that we can do that in many parts of the city.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (22:48)
I think it’s important not to jump the gun before the May 15 deadline to make sure that we listen to County Public Health. I’ve talked with Dr. Ferrer. She doesn’t support that at the neighborhood level at this point. It could draw too many people to one area. It could be something that spreads the disease. So we have to be extremely thoughtful, extremely careful about it, but it is something I absolutely do support.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (23:10)
And as we know that there won’t be a full scale reopening, I think it’s an exciting moment for us, especially people who live in dense parts of the city, who really don’t have any place to go, that if we can find streets that we can safely close, and a network of an area so people don’t go to one area, but everybody has places close, that is the criteria that I asked my team to look at and that we will as a city. So I’m excited to do that. I support it. It’s something that will be forthcoming, but that planning is already underway.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (23:37)
Thanks, Laura. Next question.
Speaker 1: (23:42)
Jim Roope with Westwood One News.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (23:45)
Hi, Jim. How are you doing?
Jim Roope: (23:47)
I’m very well, Mayor. Good evening and thank you very much for taking our questions, and please thank your family too.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (23:53)
Jim Roope: (23:53)
That must be a very understanding family you have-
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (23:55)
Yes. I appreciate it. They are.
Jim Roope: (23:58)
… to have you be out so much to do this. We appreciate that. One of the things that is coming up is, at least a lot of questions coming up, is as people start to getting real optimistic in some recovery, we see a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, with some of the measures that the Governor has talked about and some of the things you’ve talked about. So as we look toward recovery, there’s some concern that eventually this is going to be put on the backs of the taxpayers. So how do you reassure Angelenos that when push comes to shove and the economic reality starts to hit about how much loss there was in the city’s economy, that taxes aren’t going to be raised or that things aren’t going to happen that’s going to wind up putting a lot of burden on the residents of this city?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (24:46)
Sure. Well, there’s no question coming out of this that not just a reopening, which I remind people will not just be a linear reopening, meaning that we take steady steps. There’s going to be times we take steps forward, and the disease will cause us to retreat. There’s times we’re going to take steps forward and we didn’t figure out how to do it right. The safety protocols didn’t work. The physical distancing didn’t, and we’ll have to retreat. Other times we’ll take steps forward and the world won’t change, or it’ll still be getting better and we can take bigger and bolder steps. But you’re right. It’s not just about reopening. It’s about this recovery, and who will pay for it? It’s my philosophy, two things. One is the best thing we can do to pay for recovery is to get our economy going. That when people pay normal taxes, because they’re back at work, because we have businesses paying sales tax, that that is the best way for us to finance recovery.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (25:34)
Second, though, there’s no question this will be shared sacrifice by all of us. Many have sacrificed who are at home. We made sure as a state and as a country we’re paying for unemployment for people who can’t work. Those who are working are getting haircuts. Many are furloughed, taking pay cuts. Other people are looking at what we need to do to make sure we get help from the federal government, and every night I’ve said, “We can’t do this if the federal government only bails out big corporations and banks but doesn’t help cities and states.” Because we provide the critical city services, not just now during this crisis, but the ongoing crisis, and that keeps people safe. Domestic violence survivors need to have somebody to call at 911 and make sure that a cop shows up. We need to make sure that when somebody is having a heart attack, that there’s a firefighter there. We need our trash picked up. We need to make sure our parks are safe, and green, and beautiful.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (26:22)
So there’s no question there will be shared sacrifice, but I’m trying to do my best to limit that impact, especially on lower income and working class Angelenos, middle-class Angelenos who are the hardest hit by this. We don’t anticipate right now balancing the budget by raising taxes or raising any fees. I can’t speak at the national level, where obviously they’re spending a lot of money, how in the longterm they will pay for that, but at least here locally we squirreled away more in the reserve fund than ever in our history, double what it was before the Great Recession, but this is also going to hurt more than the Great Recession.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (26:54)
So to me the best thing we can do is to enact smart ways that are safe to us to open the economy, and ways that get more people working, get more revenues paid, get more people who are going to places that give us sales tax and parking tax and other things, and that should lead the way. If you go with taxes first, and no businesses can get back up and running, and they can’t hire any people, it’s like a never ending sinkhole. So we’ll be looking at that more on that later this weekm when we’re announcing some of the folks who are going to help us do that planning and that reimagining of the future in a couple of days. Thanks, Jim.
Jim Roope: (27:33)
Thank you, sir.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (27:34)
Speaker 1: (27:38)
Elex Michaelson with Fox 11 news.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (27:40)
Elex Michaelson: (27:43)
Hi, Mayor. Congratulations on the testing. That’s a big deal.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (27:46)
Elex Michaelson: (27:46)
And the thought, though, of testing four million people, how is that actually going to work? Who’s going to process all of this? What labs are going to be working on this? How long is it going to take to get those test results back? And sort of the bigger question about testing itself is, a test shows where you’re at right now in this moment in terms of coronavirus. You could get coronavirus tomorrow. So are we going to be having multiple tests for people?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (28:13)
So great questions, Elex, and we wouldn’t have moved forward if we didn’t have confidence at least in the capacity. We have been opening up each night to more and more people, and still at the end of the day we have some tests that are left over. So we had the confidence that we could move forward. I would encourage people, it’s not going to be four million people all rushing to the testing centers overnight, and we’re noticing, for instance, we’ve offered all of our firefighters testing. Not all of them are taking us up on it. People who feel healthy and say, “I haven’t been around anybody and I’ve been staying at home for 14 days. I feel confident. I don’t need to waste that.” For other people who are working still, and maybe not in a critical industry, or other people who were around somebody who was sick but they never knew if they had coronavirus or not, this is a smart thing for us to do, and having that capacity absolutely allows us not just to go once, but to go back multiple times.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (29:06)
Now, you shouldn’t be getting yourself tested every single day. That’s not the doctor’s advice. That’s nobody’s advice. But it is important, especially for people who are looking, as we approach the May 15 date, if we open certain sectors or certain spaces, if some people return, instead of telecommuting from home to working where they have other members of the public around them, it’s smart to make sure that you are clear.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (29:29)
The second thing we’ve all talked about is blood tests. We know there’s 1.5 million of those coming to California. Those have to be used differently, and as Barbara Ferrer has always said, “They don’t tell you whether you’re infectious right now. They’re more a historical look. Have you ever been infected?” And I hope that some of that can move hand in hand as the state begins to distribute those, and the state is looking to set up some more testing centers here on the day to day, “Are you infectious?” Virology tests too, which we welcome and will embrace. But if we could put both of those together, you can see, “Am I one of those maybe 4% or 5% that have actually-”
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (30:03)
… You can see. Am I one of those maybe four or 5% that have actually had it? That’s great to know. It doesn’t mean necessarily you’re immune, but it’s great to know. And then secondarily, the more important thing is am I potentially infectious right now? Because as we’ve seen, many people get infected that have no symptoms and that’s how this silent killer spreads. So I’m very excited we’re there and we have the confidence in it even if it overwhelms.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (30:23)
We’ve been getting usually about a 24 to 48-hour return time for our drive thru testing centers of those results. Occasionally it spiked to three days, but it’s generally now one to two days back. And then lastly, we also have a lot of tests that are not the drive thru centers and walk up centers. Those are the ones that we’re doing with our unhoused Angelenos, our seniors as well.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (30:44)
Those are different sort of tests. Those take a little bit longer to get back, but it’s definitely under a week. Those are effective as well. And we’re saving those for specialized environments. And so to that point, absolutely people could get multiple tests. We’re not putting a limit on that, but we encourage people. If you feel you need a test, get one. If you want to be safe, get one. And for the first time we’re opening up that to people without symptoms, no matter where you work or even if you’re not working at all. Thanks Alex. Next question.
Speaker 2: (31:17)
Emily Alpert Reyes with Los Angeles Times.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (31:21)
Hey Emily, how are you?
Emily Alpert Reyes: (31:23)
Good. Hi there. The Los Angeles City Council voted today to ask you to put a moratorium on debt collection and to also declare collection agencies as essential businesses. Do you plan to take those steps and why or why not?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (31:37)
I want to thank council member Monica Rodriguez who introduced that. I think it’s a really smart motion. I think it’s one that absolutely cuts to the heart of those who are hardest hit getting doubly penalized potentially. I’ve asked the city attorney to assess whether that’s under the jurisdiction of what a city can do legally or whether that financial oversight exists at the state and federal level only. If we do come back that we can do something at the local level, I’m happy to not only embrace that, but to lead the nation with that. So we’ll just wait and see what the city attorney says, but I really want to appreciate whether we can do that ourselves or whether this motion helps us push for a state or national movement on this. I think it’s absolutely critical.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (32:18)
People through no fault of their own who see because of COVID-19 lose their jobs and see their credit go down, are going to have years of digging out of that hole and that just seems wrong. That is of no fault of their own. So 100% support that concept. We’re making sure that we have the legal jurisdiction. If we don’t, we’ll push for that at the higher level. Thanks Emily. Next question.
Speaker 2: (32:42)
Mary Beth McDade with KTLA Channel 5 News.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (32:48)
Hey Mary Beth.
Mary Beth McDade: (32:49)
Hi, how are you?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (32:50)
Mary Beth McDade: (32:51)
Yes, I saw or was listening too and you were talking about May 15th and that being a special day as far as making it to that date. And I’m just wondering though, what type of changes would we see, if any as far as losing restrictions if the state doesn’t lift their stay-at-home order?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (33:11)
So I think the state has been clear that regions can begin to move. They will have a base that we can’t go beyond, but there’s already been some flexibility. For instance, we with some initial criticism, people were worried as I said about the construction industry. We thought those were vital jobs to protect and critical work to continue in a housing crisis, and all the infrastructure needs that we have between public transportation and our airport and port.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (33:34)
We were able to pull that off well. Northern California today joined us. We never stopped doing that and there were five or six counties that did that. So it shows how the state is allowing flexibility of regions depending on what they want to do. It’s too early to say the specific things, not because there’s a secret plan. But it really does require making sure LA City doesn’t do something that Long Beach isn’t also doing, and Pasadena isn’t doing and Santa Clarita isn’t doing that the county is moving together.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (34:02)
And hopefully some conversations between county leaders in the region. So just as we’ve seen in Northern California when a number of public health directors from a number of counties and a region move together, I think that’s a really ideal model to have public health professionals from Ventura and Los Angeles and San Bernardino and Riverside and Orange and maybe even San Diego County move together. So it’s not confusing to the public, so that it’s uniformed and because it just makes sense.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (34:28)
A disease or virus doesn’t care where we draw a county border or a city border. We need to do these things together, but certainly I think in the area of where we can go and spend our money, if that can be safely done, as we’ve shown in grocery stores, the sorts of spaces where we can go and get some fresh air and stay healthy while still staying away from each other.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (34:47)
Those are places I’m certainly looking at that I’m hopeful that county public health will sign off on. And having conversations with our supervisor, Kathryn Barger, who chairs the board of supervisors and her colleagues with Dr. Frere, with my colleagues like Robert Garcia in Long Beach and Mayor Tornek in Pasadena. Both of those cities have their own health departments to make sure we’re moving together.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (35:08)
And I just want to keep saying it every single time. May 15th isn’t a day where everybody should be planning. It’s over, celebration, big parties, quinceaneras, bar mitzvahs, resume. Everybody’s going to be back in, hundreds of people, concerts.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (35:21)
It’s going to be small steps, but I do think people deserve those steps. Right now, we’re so hungry just to see a little bit of forward motion and if we can do that in a way, especially where the need is high, where the risk is low and the ability to make safe is high. To me, those are the places we go first. Thanks so much. Next question.
Mary Beth McDade: (35:42)
Speaker 2: (35:46)
Allison Cohen with Los Feliz Ledger.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (35:50)
Hey Alex. How are ya?
Allison Cohen: (35:52)
Hey, I’m great. Thank you, Mayor. I think that’s a really big deal that everyone can get tested. It’s fantastic news.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (35:58)
Allison Cohen: (35:58)
I have two questions on two different topics. The first is regarding the 40 trailers that are going to Griffith Park and we’ll be set up at Friendship auditorium parking lot. I’m curious since they’re already as a lawsuit against the bridge shelter that’s going in their housing. Why that location and why not maybe like the LA Zoo for instance and how was the site chosen?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (36:33)
Do you want to ask the second question as well and I’ll answer in both?
Allison Cohen: (36:34)
The second question is any update on the microloan program, how many applicants has it started to be funded and has it been made easier to apply?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (36:46)
Absolutely thank you.
Allison Cohen: (36:47)
That’s it. Thank you so much.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (36:47)
On the second one, I know you applied and I asked folks to follow up specifically on your application last time, so I’ll see if I can get you information. I don’t have the update. I think the last time I got that was about three days ago, so let me follow up and give you the exact numbers. We’re also hopeful we can continue to expand micro loans and always simplified. We appreciated that feedback.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (37:06)
We think we got them out to many people faster than even the federal government did. But filling that hole and using potentially some of the dollars we got from the Coronavirus Relief Fund, the CRF, which was part of the CARES Act, is something together with the county that received over a billion dollars from that. What can we put together to help more small businesses who really the PPP program didn’t hit who don’t bank with the big guys? So let me get you those numbers.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (37:31)
In terms of Griffith Park, that was done by a whole group of people that work on this from the Homeless Services Authority, my Office of City Homelessness Initiatives, we consult with the county and the state on those. And we usually put them close to where people need them to be and where we can provide the services. So I believe that’s why the services were there.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (37:51)
I know we had a lawsuit on the a Bridge Home Shelter, which I just saw new pictures of. It’s going beautifully and one of 2200 new beds that are part of the different shelters that we are opening up around town. And just as we’ve been sued other places, we continue forward. We’ve won those lawsuits. And what was beautiful in Los Feliz is you had the Residents’ Association, you had the neighborhood council, everybody embraced that.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (38:13)
And there will always be some people who say no, and I understand those fears. I don’t dismiss them, but we can’t solve homelessness by not building beds. And these trailers are a great way to keep people safe during this. We’ve seen how many people are experiencing homelessness along the Los Angeles River, especially right there, not all the way up towards where the zoo is. And so we hope that that can be a resource to keep people safe and to bring them in doors.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (38:34)
And then lastly, as I said last night, shame on all of us collectively from the federal level, all the way down to the local if we let people just return to the streets when this is done. So I’m spending a lot of time, I convened a group of business leaders last night to talk about how can we get the funds and ensure that we can use some of the COVID-9 relief dollars to bring people, not just into housing a couple months or for a year if this lasts that long. But then to permanently get them into housing because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a bigger dent in our fight against homelessness. So I’ll follow up with those other numbers for you. Okay? Thank you. Next question, please.
Speaker 2: (39:12)
Claudia Peschiutta with KNX News Radio.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (39:17)
Hey Claudia, how are you?
Claudia Peschiutta: (39:18)
Good evening. On the testing for all regardless of symptoms, is that just for residents of the city of Los Angeles or is it open to any LA County resident as well? And then I have a second question.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (39:31)
Sure. It is for the city of Los Angeles residents to begin with. I know the county is working really hard on that too and may get there very soon, and we’re in discussions with them. But right now it’s for anybody in the city that is symptomatic or that doesn’t have symptoms.
Claudia Peschiutta: (39:47)
Okay. Sorry. It’s really hard to hear you on the teleconference.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (39:50)
Claudia Peschiutta: (39:54)
I think you’re done answering the first question and then the LA Times had an interesting article today on wastewater analysis as a possible way to monitor the spread of COVID-19. I’m wondering if that’s something that might be done here. Why or why not? Thank you.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (40:07)
I haven’t seen that article. I sometimes misread the clips in the paper. I’ll check it out. I don’t know is the short answer. It sounds very intriguing to use wastewater to look at some of that. But let me followup with you. I’ll talk to also LA County Public Health to see.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (40:21)
We obviously have a lot of the sanitation, they have a sanitation district. But if that’s something that helps us be able to assess that, it’s certainly something we’ll bring to them. But first I’ve heard of it. Thanks for bringing it to my attention, Claudia. Next question please.
Speaker 2: (40:37)
Elizabeth Chou with LA Daily News.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (40:39)
Elizabeth Chou: (40:41)
Hi. I actually have had the same question as Claudia, but I couldn’t hear the answer that clearly.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (40:47)
About the wastewater or about the testing?
Elizabeth Chou: (40:48)
Oh, sorry about the testing whether or not it’s city-
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (40:52)
It’s city of Los Angeles residents. Right now moving forward, it’s the city of Los Angeles residents tonight starting tomorrow. And I know the county is working very hard. They could be there very soon, but right now it’s the city.
Elizabeth Chou: (41:04)
Okay, so I guess it’s not all. So it’s not all 35. It’s some of the 35, right?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (41:13)
You have to go through the portal and you just give what your address is in there and that’ll direct you towards one of the centers. So it’s not in every single one. Correct. Anything else, Liz? Is that it? Okay. All right. I think I was told that was the last question. So I’m going to switch to Spanish. I’ll be taking some questions in Spanish at the end, but thank you again everybody.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (41:39)
Please sign up, get a test. We’re going to continue adding as much capacity as we can, but we appreciate all that you were doing. I know in these next two weeks, it feels like each day is almost like a year, but hang in there. I believe in you. I believe in this city and I believe in our future. Thank you and have a good night.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (41:59)
And now I’ll switch into Spanish.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (42:01)
[foreign language 00:42:03]
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (42:01)
[foreign language 00:42:54].
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (42:01)
[foreign language 00:44:38]
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (45:23)
[Spanish 00:00:00]. I’ll say one thing in English, even though I’m going to take some questions in Spanish. I was corrected, it is just in the city centers, but all County residents, whether without symptoms can be tested starting tomorrow. At city sites all can be tested. I also got the numbers for the Los Feliz Ledger, 22,196 applications, 3,735 processed already, 89 of those approved and out the door. We’ll get you more statistics as that grows and we appreciate that feedback.
Speaker 3: (50:26)
[ Spanish 00:05:45].
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (50:30)
[ inaudible 00:07:03].
Speaker 4: (50:33)
[Spanish 00: 07:55].
Speaker 5: (54:23)
Two questions from KNBC. [crosstalk 00:54:25]
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (54:24)
Sure. Yeah. Okay.
Speaker 5: (54:27)
One of the questions is, is it really possible for LA USD schools to open in late July, and at what capacity? The second one was about, you gave us a history lesson last week on the 1918 Spanish Flu in which some Bay area open sooner than Los Angeles with some devastating results. Six counties in the Bay area have just extended their stay-at-home order. Is that something told me, til May, is that something that we’ll do the same?
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (54:50)
We already have ours extended, obviously, in May. Some of them looked at longer. I think that idea that certain places have dates that they’re extending it to and then that date is when everything ends, we’re all going to be, whether we’re quote unquote “opening a little” or “closing more” in a society that’s mostly closed and having some small openings for some time. That’s I think the same everywhere.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (55:12)
For instance, as I mentioned, the Bay area just opened more, so they closed down maybe the extension of how long they thought some of the stay-at-home orders would be, but they opened up. I think they added golf and tennis, landscaping, gardening, and they added, of course, construction, which we had had and safely we’re monitoring. I think it’s very different than in 1918 when what happened in San Francisco is they threw all the doors open. We’ve learned that lesson collectively. I’ve talked to London Breed, my dear friend who’s mayor of San Francisco, I’ve talked with Libby Chef, who’s also a dear friend, mayor of Oakland and San Liccardo and San Jose. They’re doing a good job of working together and making sure county’s move together, but we’re talking all the time to make sure nobody’s too far ahead of anybody else and that we take these steps altogether.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (55:59)
The first half of it was LA USD opening. That’s something I think better directed to the superintendent and the board. I do think it’s probably a little bit early of an estimation. I’ve only heard them talk about the fall and even preparing for the fall will be a big enough undertaking. How do we do this safely? We absolutely have to get our schools open though because parents can’t return to work. If they’re permitted to, if their kids aren’t at school. It is just a basic part of our economy. As I’ve said each night too, we can’t forget those children that won’t be able to return because they have pre-existing conditions that make them vulnerable. We have to continue to provide for their education while they stay safer at home until there is a cure.
Mayor Eric Garcetti: (56:36)
All right. I think those were the last questions. Thanks to everybody for joining us. Thank you to Telemundo for helping us out tonight as well with the feed. We said it before, obviously members of the media can get tested even before this announcement. Now everybody can. Take care of yourselves as well. To everybody in Los Angeles, be well, stay strong, stay safe, and I’ll see you tomorrow.