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Mayor Garcetti's Message To LA: Don't Panic

File: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shows a Memorandum with COVID-19 city department guidelines on Thursday, March 12. (Damian Dovarganes/AP)
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With empty store shelves, long lines and general anxiety all around, we reached out to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to get his perspective on what we should, and should not, be worried about.

His advice: don't panic and focus on social distancing.

"We're all first responders — we have a role in saving people's lives by the actions we take in these next couple weeks," Garcetti said.

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There will be plenty of food available not just for days but for months ahead, Garcetti said, citing a meeting with the California Grocers Association. There is no need to panic-buy food, he added.

And he urged everyone to keep in mind that purchasing is not expected to continue at this level. He said stores will continue to have regular deliveries daily. But he did note that there will be some momentary shortages.

"I know everybody's fixation on toilet paper right now," Garcetti said. "There's no way that we could be buying at this pace for days, upon days, upon days, upon weeks — and even so, each day, they will replenish them."

Water that comes from your tap is actually cleaner than that from bottled water on average, according to Garcetti, so residents shouldn't worry about bottled water either.


If hospitals end up becoming overwhelmed, Garcetti said, the city is preparing other spaces. These include rec centers and the city convention center. One silver lining of the cancellation of large gatherings: there's a lot of availability.

But Garcetti asked residents to help keep hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. If you're not in a vulnerable group and you don't have trouble breathing, Garcetti said that people should stay home, even if you're exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus.


Garcetti warned of inaccurate information spreading from sources like robo-calls, adding that people should rely on official sources and double-check official websites of the city, the county, and school districts. [We like to think we're doing a pretty good job here on the web at and on the air at 89.3 KPCC] He also said to beware of fraud, with people trying to take advantage of the current situation.

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The mayor also said that the city has been working with L.A. County and the L.A. Homeless Services Authority to prepare to protect the homeless at this time.

So far, 250 cleaning centers and hand-sanitizing stations have been put up for the homeless, according to Garcetti, with people working this weekend to do more. County doctors and supplemental medical professionals from UCLA and USC are also helping to identify homeless people with vulnerabilities that would make them the most vulnerable to contracting and potentially dying from COVID-19.

As announced previously, the city will continue to not cut off utilities at this time, according to Garcetti.


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