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Here Are Garcetti's 5 Pillars For Reopening LA's Economy

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti laid out five key strategies the city will follow in order to lift the stay-at-home order and get the local economy running again.

Garcetti announced the strategies tonight as part of his regular updates on local efforts to address the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and they closely align with six similar strategies announced by California Gov. Newsom yesterday.

1. Widespread virus and blood testing: So far public health officials have relied on what's called a virology test. That's the uncomfortable nasal or mouth swabs we've heard about (or experienced). These tests can confirm whether someone is actually infectious with COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, whether or not they have symptoms, Garcetti said. These tests are vital for tracking sick people in real time in order to trace contacts or instate quarantines and isolation. A second type of tests are called serology or blood tests. These tests rely on blood drawn from a finger prick or a syringe to detect the presence of antibodies. Someone who has antibodies for the coronavirus has likely already been sick and may be immune. Broader blood testing can help public health officials understand the full scope and spread of the disease, including those who were asymptomatic or had only mild symptoms. This form of testing is still in the works, however, and the county has partnered with the University of Southern California and Lieberman Research Worldwide to study it. Garcetti said they hope to have results soon.

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2. Real-time disease surveillance. To detect new outbreaks faster, and hopefully prevent them, test results need to be tied to a surveillance network so that COVID-19 can be tracked in real time, Garcetti said.

3. Rapid, aggressive response. More workers will need to be trained to supplement the work of public health officials so that the city and county can more quickly respond to potential outbreaks discovered through testing and surveillance. These workers will be able to help isolate new cases, trace and communicate with contacts, and quarantine people who have been exposed and who are not yet immune.

4. Increase hospital capacity. "This pandemic has laid bare our hospital bed shortage. We shouldn't have to scramble like this here in Los Angeles, in California," Garcetti said. While state and local officials have taken steps to secure beds and generally kept pace with the increased demand, Garcetti said "we need a national push" to grow the capacity in intensive care units, emergency rooms and personal protective equipment "before the next wave hits."

5. Ongoing research and development. Close collaboration and standardized data collection across local, state, and federal agencies, universities and labs will be needed to effectively develop treatments "not based on theories, but on actual clinical trials," that can then be shared with doctors and nurses on the front lines, Garcetti said.

So when will things reopen? Garcetti said he doesn't see large gatherings like concerts happening this year, but things could return to relative normalcy sooner than that.

"We don't know for sure that we would need a vaccine to get back to normal," said Neeraj Sood, a professor and vice dean at USC's Price School of Public Policy who's leading the study on serology tests.

If the number of infections goes down, and the city can quickly and aggressively test those who are sick, it's possible that then "frees up other folks to have more freedom in terms of their movement," said Paul Simon, chief science officer of the county’s health department and another lead in the study.

Garcetti also said he thought it was possible that we could see a return to sports of all kinds, from high school to professional, but they might be played without a live audience and athletes would likely have to be tested.

Here are some other takeaways from tonight's address:

  • Garcetti and Simon said no known infections have been traced back to the L.A. Marathon. As Simon points out, "you can't prove a negative — we can only try to acknowledge a finding, and we've not been aware of any clusters or outbreaks associated with the marathon."
  • L.A. is expanding a program that delivers emergency meals for seniors, adding capacity for up to 7,000 more people. If you need a meal, you live in the city of L.A., and you're 60 or older, you can begin calling tomorrow from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 213-263-5226.

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