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L.A. County Launches ‘WiFi Finder’ to Reduce Digital Divide During COVID-19
By Betti Halsell Contributing Writer
Published May 15, 2020

Friday, May 15, Los Angeles public officials delivered a current status report developed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. L.A. slowly found their footing in opening businesses and communal spaces. Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer shared the latest statistics of positive cases and death rates. More information has come to light regarding the revised Safer at Home Order issued earlier this week. The Los Angeles Board of Supervisors stressed the importance  the continual effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The L.A. County provided additional resources to reduce the digital divide during the pandemic.

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, Chair, Fifth District. (Screen Shot)

This week nearly all retail businesses opened for curbside pickup and delivery, putting Angelenos back to work. Many recreational areas are opening as well, parks, botanic gardens, lakes, boat launching, and dog parks are available county wide. Outdoor activities that are available include golf, hiking, tennis, and pickleball. The county will resume free snack programs at some parks and will reopen restrooms during the day. With these outbound opportunities, L.A. is looking to take more steps into a new way of living. Chairwoman Kathryn Barger continued, “By providing more access to the outdoors, we’re taking meaningful steps to slowly bring our community back together safely, after we have spent so much time apart.”

The Los Angeles Director of Public Health provided latest updates on the COVID-19 Virus.  Dr. Ferrer shared Friday, May 15, there were 47 additional deaths, 37 of these individuals were between the ages of 65 and over, 30 of them with underlining health conditions. five people who died were between the ages of 41-65, two of them had preexisting health concerns. This brings the total COVID-19 related deaths in the L.A. County to 1,755.

Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director, Public Health. (Screen Shot)

The public health director wanted to note the magnitude in coronavirus related deaths and the relationship with underlining health issues. 92% of people who passed away from coronavirus had preexisting health concerns; 40% of the victims were under the age of 65. Ferrer stated, “Even mild illness in a person with underlining health conditions during a pandemic is a cause for concern…”

Ferrer disclosed as of May 15, there were 962 new COVID-19 reports. In summary, there is a total amount of 36,259 coronavirus cases in the Los Angeles region. 1,157 incidents were reported in the city of Long Beach and 662 cases in the city of Pasadena. The statistics among the un-sheltered community was delayed and there was a promise for a future count to be on the following Monday.

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The L.A. County acknowledged the critical necessity for internet to be widely available across Los Angeles. Schools and other academic programs are only accessible online due to the COVID-19 outbreak. According to American Community Survey Data for L.A. County, approximately 210,000 children have a computer. However, they do not have access to a broadband, nearly 300,000 students do not have internet access.According to American Community Survey Data for L.A. County, approximately 210,000 children have a computer, but do not have a broadband; nearly 300,000 students do not have internet access.

The L.A. Board of Supervisors announced the WiFi Finder; a tool co-created by the 2-1-1 operation and the LA County, equips Angelenos with a “one-stop approach to getting access.” The website is findwifi.lacounty.gov or Angelenos can dial 2-1-1 directly to ask for assistance with the program.  The information released by the L.A. County stated, “The website features a search tool, based on the user’s physical address, to connect them to various Internet related services, such as Internet access services for students, the location of free WiFi spots throughout the County.”

 

Categories: COVID-19 | Local | News
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