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LA Recommends Masks For Everyone, Orders Utility Cutoff For 8 Businesses That Refused To Close

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Mayor Eric Garcetti demonstrates the type of cloth mask he's recommending people wear whenever they leave their homes during the coronavirus pandemic. Screenshot from L.A. City
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Los Angeles is now recommending that all residents wear masks whenever they're in public and interacting with others.

Mayor Eric Garcetti made the announcement in his nightly update on the city's response to COVID-19, getting ahead of expected guidance forthcoming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I think there's going to be some forthcoming advice in the coming days from our state and local officials, but they've been waiting on the CDC. I finally said today, 'I don't want to wait any longer.'"

Garcetti was careful to insist that this is not an excuse to ignore social distancing guidelines. People are still advised to stay at home for all but the most essential activities.

He also spelled out two categories of people, with different types of mask for each.

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  • Surgical masks: These are medical grade, like the N95 masks you've likely been hearing about, and they are reserved for medical professionals.
  • Homemade cloth masks: These are bandanas, scarves, hand-sewn masks and the like and should be worn by everyone else, including workers providing other essential services, such as those in food retail and vital infrastructure jobs.

MISDEMEANORS

Eight non-essential businesses have now been referred to the city attorney for prosecution because they failed to heed the initial closure order and all subsequent warnings. Garcetti said he's ordering the Department of Water and Power to cut their utilities, but he declined to name the businesses when pressed by reporters.

MASKS

In explaining why he wasn't waiting for the CDC's official guidance on masks, Garcetti said "anything that can even be 1% effective, 10% effective, 50% effective, is something we should do."

He shared a metaphor to explain how even a cloth mask can prevent small particles from spreading on droplets from the nose and mouth:

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"Imagine that a micron, this virus, is the size of a football player, and the masks have holes the size of a door. Maybe that football player can get through a door, but imagine four or five football players trying to rush the door at the same time. This can be effective in keeping them from going through."

Garcetti also said he looked to other countries where it's traditional to wear one when sick.

"I know it will look surreal," he said. "We don't have that kind of cultural — kind of tradition — of wearing masks. We associate that with other parts of the world, but those parts of the world started to do that because of some of the health scares that they have been through in the past."

He said wearing a mask can be a good reminder for others and an encouragement to practice safe distancing.

To help ensure there are enough masks to go around, Garcetti said the city has partnered with industry to produce both surgical and non-surgical masks to support medical professionals and the general public alike.

So far 400 garment and apparel manufacturers locally have signed up to make cloth face coverings, and 147 have already met city requirements. The city now has the capacity to produce 2 million cloth face coverings per week. These are facial coverings for non-medical workers.

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Essential businesses that need the masks can sign up for help at coronavirus.lacity.org/laprotects.

Meanwhile, the city's LA Protects program is partnering with architecture, design and manufacturing firms to help 3-D print personal protective equipment for health care workers. And it's helping get 30,000 liters of hand sanitizer produced for grocery store workers.

MARKETS

Just two nights ago Garcetti said the city was suspending all farmers markets until they could show they had sufficient plans to enforce safe social distancing.

The city received numerous applications within 24 hours, and as of today, Garcetti said, the Bureau of Street Services has approved plans for 24 farmers markets to immediately reopen. He said some of them were even operational today.

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You can find a list of open markets at streets.lacity.org/covid.

WATCH GARCETTI'S FULL ADDRESS:

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