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Mayor Garcetti Says Too Many Angelenos Are Hanging Out With Friends, 'The Covid Test Is Not A Passport To Party'

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Mayor Eric Garcetti said today at his press briefing that there have been too many social gatherings in Los Angeles, which is, simply put, the main reason we are seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases locally.

"There are still too many social gatherings, maybe too many pool parties this weekend, too many playdates, too many family barbecues" he said, adding that today, over 50% of those who tested positive for the disease are under 40 years old. Last week, it was 40% and several weeks ago, only 30% of positive cases were in the 18-40 age group.

Garcetti went so far as to make a plea to parents, asking them to do their part to keep kids and young adults from going to parties and gatherings with friends.

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"I know it's the summertime," the mayor said, "and our muscle memory goes back to being together, to wanting to hang out with one another to thinking, 'Well, I don't know anybody who has been sick or in the hospital so I'm probably okay, and they're probably okay.' And so they're winding up in the hospital or if they're not winding up in the hospital, they're passing on to their parents and their grandparents."

He warned that the next weeks are critical to determining whether or not schools and the rest of the economy will be able to reopen, saying definitively, "do not get together with someone who's not in your household."

Reminder: outdoor dining, outdoor bars, gyms, nail salons and many other business are still open. So Garcetti is basically saying you can go to these places, just not with your friends.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS

Last month, the L.A. County Dept. of Public Health found that 83% of the 3,700 bars and restaurants they visited were violating reopening guidelines and public health protocols.

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Today, the mayor said that the department is reporting a big improvement, with a 90-98% compliance rate among the same 3,700 stablishments.

"That's good news," Garcetti added, "people are hearing us, they're doing the right thing and helping save lives."

CODE ORANGE

Last week, Garcetti unveiled a new color-coded threat level tracker for COVID-19 risk in L.A. Today, he said, the threat level is orange.

"That's bad," he said. "If things get worse that dial could move to red. In this coming week or two, that would place us at the highest risk of infection, and we'd likely return to a mandated safer at home order."

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The mayor added that we should assume that everyone around us is infectious. He said we are now seeing the highest hospitalizations we've had since the pandemic began.

TESTING

The mayor said that testing is full this week, likely because of a lack of testing over the holiday weekend. The city is adding more tests on Saturday, Sunday, and into next week. The turnaround time for tests should still be one to two days.

"We hear every single day that there are not enough tests," Garcetti said, adding that the city is expanding testing capacity by 100%, despite national "choke points" in the supply chain due to surges of the virus in states like Florida and Texas.

The mayor said that without national funding for increased testing as outlined in the next coronavirus relief bill, the numbers are not sustainable.

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"Congress and the President need to set aside any of their differences and pass another relief bill now, to expand testing and direct assistance for cities like ours, that are stepping up and paying out of our pocket for these tests," he said.

Tests should ideally be reserved for those with symptoms, as well as anyone who thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 and essential workers. Asymptomatic individuals should not just be getting tested so they can hang out with their friends, he said.

"A Covid test isn't an excuse to break the rules and engage in social gatherings outside your household," Garcetti said. "It's not an excuse to not wear a mask, or to not maintain social distancing. The test is not a passport to party."

The mayor made his point clear: don't hang out with your friends.

RENT RELIEF

L.A. residents who have a household income at or below 80% of the median income, which for a family of four is about $83,000, can apply for rent relief.

Applications will open on Monday, July 13 at 8 a.m. and close at midnight on July 17. The mayor said the application process is not first-come, first-served. For more information, call 844-944-1868.

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