In Latest Coronavirus Update, Garcetti Talks About Efforts To House Homeless People, Get Meals To Seniors
At today's coronavirus briefing (watch live above), Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti started by discussing how statewide reopening plans would impact the city.
Earlier today, California governor Gavin Newsom said the state will start moving into Phase 2 of the coronavirus fight this Friday. Reopenings may happen regionally. Businesses in sparsely populated areas might reopen sooner than ones in densely populated urban areas.
"Our death rate is lower than the national average thanks to what you have done," Garcetti said, "but we nevertheless have suffered about half of the state's COVID-19 related deaths. And our timing on opening may vary from other parts of the state... So it's important that when we hear the governor, know he isn't talking to all of us in exactly the same way. He's brought together a framework that then requires us to do the hard work here to determine what's right for Los Angeles."
Garcetti says that in the coming days, he'll meet with mayors and council members of other cities across Los Angeles County, as well as the county's our Board of Supervisors and public health department to "make these decisions together."
Garcetti also discussed a new mandate for nursing homes, efforts to house homeless people, meals for seniors and protections for renters.
Los Angeles County reported 568 new COVID-19 diagnoses, bringing the total to 26,217 cases — a 2% increase since yesterday.
Garcetti updated an order he issued on April 24. Effective immediately, all skilled nursing facilities in the city of Los Angeles must hand-deliver to all residents and workers notices that include the last date testing was offered and the next date it will be offered. These notices must be updated and circulated once a month and, at least two days prior to testing, an update notice must be publicly displayed at the main entrance of every facility and provided to anyone (whether in the media, government or general public) who asks for it.
HOUSING THE HOMELESS
Garcetti said the city had opened up 24 temporary shelters at recreation centers across Los Angeles. These shelters are currently housing 900 people and are at 87% capacity. Garcetti said anyone who needs a bed should call 211.
The mayor highlighted Project Room Key, a partnership that uses city, county and state funds to secure hotel rooms for people experiencing homelessness. He said that over the weekend, L.A. County officials secured an additional 505 motel rooms, a 25% boost, bringing the total number of rooms to 2,711 rooms across the county.
"This helps give badly needed revenue to our hotels and motels and puts people back to work while protecting the lives of those people experiencing homelessness and saving the lives of all of us by ensuring the spread of COVID-19 slows down," Garcetti said.
He also said a large downtown L.A. hotel has offered an additional 460 rooms, which will push the total number of rooms above 3,000.
"Because this is our first large downtown hotel and because it's closer to the epicenter of our homeless crisis and Skid Row, it will boost our efforts to support Angelenos who are at the greatest risk of dying from this virus," Garcetti said.
Garcetti says city officials have called more than 800 hotels and motels in the search for rooms and they continue looking for more but he also explained that some hotels are too expensive for
"Keep in mind, many of the newer world class hotels nearby are very expensive. We don't want to overspend taxpayer dollars. We wouldn't be able to bring in as many people off the street," Garcetti said.
Garcetti says the city of L.A. has already scaled up and is now providing meals to 12,000 seniors and doubled the number of meals being delivered to each participant.
He says the city is partnering with the Hospitality Training Academy, which is working with four hotels and hospitality kitchens that have rehired 106 workers as well as three taxi cab companies.
If you're 65 or over or age 60 to 64 with an underlying medical condition and you need of a meal delivered to your home, call 213-263-5226 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or go online and sign up. You cannot already be enrolled in another meal program. Garcetti also urged restaurants that want to provide meals to sign up.
"Having just passed the first of the month, I want to again encourage renters to notify your landlords if you're unable to make rent because of the impact of this novel coronavirus," Garcetti said.
He recommended that renters notify their landlords within seven days after the date their rent is due but he also reminded people, "Our city does not compel anyone to provide this notice or documentation but we do strongly urge you to do that as soon as possible."
Garcetti also said he supports national legislation that would forgive both mortgage and rental payments. "That is a priority that I hope this Congress will adopt and our President will sign in the next round of the CARES Act for families and households across our city and throughout our country."