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Mayor Garcetti Addresses Confusion Over State, County And City Stay-At-Home Orders In LA

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Mayor Eric Garcetti spoke (virtually) to Angelenos tonight, to help us understand the three (yes, THREE) different sets of restrictions we're currently living under.

This comes after an abundance of confusion and frustration at his advice to not leave your home, unless you want to get your nails done or workout at an outdoor gym, in which case, enjoy!

Garcetti seems to understand that for the average person, let alone those of us who work in local news, figuring out exactly what is new and what's changed whenever the state, county or city issues a new set of restrictions is kind of like looking for five needles in five different haystacks. The haystacks in this scenario, though, are actually really long word documents with lists of occupancy percentages.

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Public health messaging is more important than ever before -- we need clear, easy-to-follow guidelines that ideally, don't change every week. Or if they do change, we need simple instructions of what has changed. You have to know the rules to follow them, right? Understanding why the rules are being made would also be helpful.

"So often in this crisis, it can be so confusing. Orders come down from the state, from our county. We're not sure what they mean when they come into effect. Oftentimes, with no notice, our life just changes like that, what we can and can't do, what we're supposed and not supposed to do," Garcetti said. "And so each of these evening briefings I try to give you the hard truths, but also explain what's going on. And tonight, I'd like to do that."

Great! We could all use a little clarity. So what's changed?

Garcetti says, not a lot.

"Nothing has changed for L.A. yet," Garcetti said, referencing Gov. Newsom's announcement, that the state is now divided into regions, with different restrictions, based on the severity of hospitalization numbers. These regions by the way, are different than the colored tiers we were basing state restrictions on before (those were based on counties). Again, confusing.

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Here's how it works: when and if the ICU beds in the Southern California region become 85% full, the mayor explained, new orders will be triggered. We don't know when that will happen but it could be as soon as this weekend or early next week.

IF WE GET TO THAT POINT, and only then, these new restrictions will go into effect:

  • Personal care businesses (nail salons, barber shops, etc.) will no longer be allowed to operate
  • Family entertainment centers (like zoos, aquariums, mini golf, museums) will close.
  • Capacity at essential businesses like pharmacies and supermarkets will be reduced from 35% to 20%.

Again, if we get to that point, where 85% of ICU beds are filled, the mayor said, there will be more closures ordered by the state, but "most of those closures already have occurred here in Los Angeles."
Garcetti made a point that all outdoor activites — like walking, hiking, running, biking — are still allowed and encouraged. "I encourage you to get out there, keep your space, wear a mask, but go for a walk, go for a bike ride, make sure you do those things that can help you get through this tough time. Don't just stay indoors," he added.

So there's your clarification. "Simple as that," Garcetti said.

When asked by a reporter if he regretted confusing the public with the city order, Garcetti said he did not have any regrets and that the confusion was a misunderstanding. He said some people thought he said that the city was banning walking — but that he never in face, said that. The city orders, he said, have always been nearly identical to the county orders to avoid confusion.

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Go outside and stay home are of course, contradictory pieces of advice, but we think when the mayor says "stay at home" he really means, "stay safe and don't hang out with people." Not literally, "lock your doors and do not leave your home."

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Screenshot of today's live briefing (Mayor's Facebook page)

The point, the mayor explained, is this: cases are rising. We need to do something to get it into people's heads that this is still serious. Today, L.A. County hit another record, "in a bad way," the mayor said. "Remember, cities can't open up more than what the county allows or what the state allows."

Garcetti noted:

"8860 cases, a number I can hardly believe, that just a few weeks ago would have been unimaginable. We're on the verge of reaching 10,000 cases daily with the numbers that we're seeing this week."

The city of L.A. also saw its highest case count so far in the pandemic, with
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3,756 confirmed positive tests.

"If we stay on this case trajectory, L.A. is projected to reach half a million cases by the year's end," the mayor said, meaning and one out of every 20 people in the city will have had the virus.

The positivity rate is 1.14, which Garcetti says is "well above one, meaning that everybody who's infected is infecting more than one more person, which is why cases continue to rise. We need to get that number down below one."

MORE COVID NUMBERS:

  • 2,769 people are hospitalized, a 4% increase since yesterday.
  • In the past three weeks, our hospitalizations have tripled.
  • 644 patients are in the ICU
  • COVID cases among healthcare workers are up by 71%

MORE UPDATES

  • The county is adopting a new digital contact tracing program. If you test positive for COVID-19, you will get a message from Healthvana, and be prompted to enter the names and phone numbers of everyone you were in contact with. Those people will instantly and anonymously get text messaged notifying them that they have been exposed to the virus and should get tested. ". In the coming weeks we're going to make it possible for them to also get a free test by mail, so they don't even have to leave their house in order to see what their status is," Garcetti added.
  • A new city initiative will offer 4,000 restaurant workers one-time $800 stipends. Those who qualify can apply starting Monday at 9 a.m. (the application window lasts until Friday at midnight, and the time you apply shouldn't affect your changes of getting it). You can go to coronavirus.la-city.org/serve for applications and more info. The 4,000 recipients will be chosen at random, by lottery.

Correction: A previous version of this story said the restaurant worker stipend program was a county initiative, but it is actually a city initiative. LAist regrets the error.

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