Garcetti: LA's Coronavirus Threat Level Is 'On The Border Of Going Red'
Since it was introduced at the start of the month, L.A.'s color-coded COVID-19 threat level has hovered at orange. That's stayed true even as efforts to reopen the economy have brought a corresponding increase in coronavirus cases.
Now, the city is in danger of tipping to red, the highest alert level, Mayor Eric Garcetti said tonight in his regular update on L.A.'s efforts to fight the pandemic.
If that were to happen, Garcetti said, we would return to the restrictions of his original "Safer at Home" order instead of the more relaxed guidelines of his "Safer L.A." And he made this point about the volume of cases here in the nation's most populous county:
"If we were an independent country, Los Angeles County would have the 20th most cases in the world. Put differently, we have more cases in Los Angeles County than all of Canada."
"Do not host a party, do not attend a gathering, don't treat this like a normal summer break," he said. "This virus is not taking the summer off and we can't afford to either."
The mayor called Gov. Gavin Newsom's decision to again shutter businesses like gyms, churches and salons for all "watchlist" counties the "right approach." In Southern California, those counties include Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino. Garcetti praised the regional approach, noting that it can be difficult to prevent the spread of the virus if people can easily cross the street or a city boundary and "engage in risky activities."
There were some positive trends in the mayor's report. The city has reduced the number of deaths in senior nursing facilities by 80% since May. And outside of nursing facilities, the proportion of deaths among African Americans was now lower than their share of the population.
But at the same time, the share of Latinos dying of COVID-19 has continued to soar, Garcetti said.
HOSPITALIZATIONS ON THE RISE
L.A. now has more people in the hospital because of COVID-19 than at any previous time during this pandemic.
Across the county, currently there are 766 available beds, 141 of which are for intensive care.
The county also has a "strong ventilator capacity" of 1,128, he said.
But to put these numbers in perspective, the number of ICU patients has risen significantly in just a few weeks, from just under 400 to 565 a month ago and again to the new high.
The city will be offering more than 100,000 tests, this week, a 25% increase in capacity from last week, Garcetti said.
All tests are booked for tomorrow, but appointments for Wednesday will be made available online tonight.
After initially inviting everyone to get a test, Garcetti noted that tests at this time are limited to those who are showing symptoms or who think they may have been exposed, along with essential workers who operate in high-risk environments.
To help reach those who may not be able to make an appointment or reach a testing site, the city is continuing to use mobile testing teams. Garcetti said it was just such a team that helped respond to the outbreak that forced Dov Charney's L.A. Apparel factory to close.
More than 1,100 community members in the area got tested in two days, the mayor said.
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