As many have said over the past several weeks, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and America’s response to it has been fluid and constantly changing. While Washington D.C. has struggled to come up with a plan and the president flip-flops on the message, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has been consistent, steadfast and action-filled as Los Angeles works to control this ever-evolving crisis.
Mayor Garcetti is a man of faith, a man who believes in the best of Los Angeles and is confident that the city will get through these tough days of dealing with the Coronavirus. When the mayor jumped on the phone to speak with the Sentinel, he had just gotten off the phone with a number of the city’s pastors, priests and rabbi’s, praying for the city and its citizens.
It’s been several days since the mayor set in motion his “Safer at Home” order. But Mayor Garcetti approaches this order as a good thing for the people during a bad situation.
“According to all of our matrix, Angeleno’s are doing a fairly good job at following instruction, while some can do better – I am very proud of our community. For the most part, everyone is doing their part to help us bring this disease under control.”
The mayor emphasizes that young people especially can do better, but he sees progress. “Our young people are critical to us getting our arms around COVID-19. Unfortunately, sometimes our young people have this feeling of invincibility, but they need to understand that young people are actually getting sick, young people are actually dying and while they may be asymptomatic, they can spread the disease and possibly kill others.”
From sun up to sun down, the mayor has been constantly working the phones, trying to secure the necessary resources for Los Angeles, from hospital mask to hospital facilities, the mayor is trying to ensure Los Angeles has what it needs to win the “War on Corona.” Currently, Los Angeles has about 11,000 hospital beds and about 2,300 ICU beds, but the mayor believes within the next six weeks, we will need more.
“From everything we’ve looked at, we will need about another 5,500 hospital beds and another 2,300 ICU beds. Not just for virus patients, but to also provide medical treatment for all of the patients who need treatment within the city.”
That is why the mayor has brought older and previously closed hospitals back into operation, he has managed to secure the U.S.S. Mercy to reside in the Port of Los Angeles in order to provide treatment to patients who need care for other ailments besides COVID-19. He has worked with local unions to secure workers and volunteers, the U.S. Military and the National Guard all in an effort to provide Angeleno’s with the treatment necessary to navigate Los Angeles through this medical crisis. He is even working on a plan to convert the Los Angeles Convention Center into a treatment facility able to handle patients when Los Angeles reaches the peak of this pandemic.
Medical experts from throughout the region and throughout the country say we are only at the beginning of this medical crisis. “The way I see it, we are just at the beginning of this crisis. We have about 6-8 weeks before we reach the peak and we will see a lot more people getting sick,” stated Dr. Richard Tuch.
Throughout the country, combating the pandemic is only a part of the problem. As a result of the “Safer at Home” order and the governor’s shut down of non-essential businesses, companies everywhere are feeling the financial hardships of this crisis. People are losing their jobs, they are losing their health coverage and the economic strain is having a devastating effect on everyone, everywhere.
Mayor Garcetti lays out that there are three important issues that need to be considered when dealing with the financial challenges that come with navigating the residence of Los Angeles through this period.
But the mayor is not just sitting around waiting on aid from Washington. He has made it his responsibility to begin raising funds to aid those in the city who are in dire need financial assistance.
“As soon as I finish this interview, I am going to be back on the phones talking to the businesses and wealthiest individuals in our city trying to raise $10 million dollars to support those most in need within our city.”
The mayor believes we must take action now against an immediate danger to all of us. Although we must physically distance ourselves from each other, we must also protect those in need from economic devastation, that is why Garcetti has created the Mayor’s Angeleno Fund and he has committed to raise $10 million to provide direct cash assistance to Angelenos most in need. He says he is doing this because those who qualify for federal and state assistance may not receive it for weeks or longer, and too many, particularly independent workers and immigrants, may be ineligible for many benefits.
While Mayor Garcetti is constantly working to ensure some sense of normalcy in this crazy Coronavirus world we are living in, he has not forgotten about those most in danger from this pandemic.
“The homeless population in our city is the population that is most vulnerable. Many already have pre-existing medical conditions which are going untreated and they have the least access to treatment and are the ones most susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus.”
This past weekend the mayor opened eight parks and rec facilities to aid Los Angeles homeless population, and while all eight of those facilities are already at capacity, he is working to open 42 more centers throughout the city.
“At each of these facilities, the people will be evaluated by medical professionals for signs of possibly having COVID-19. If they are showing signs of having the virus, they will be housed in isolation and monitored at various hotels and motels throughout the city,” stated Garcetti.
Currently the city has secured about 600 rooms at various motels and hotels throughout the city and the mayor and his team are working to secure more beds/rooms each and every day.
Most importantly, Mayor Garcetti wants the residents of Los Angeles to stay positive. To take care of themselves and to take care of their loved ones. To make sure they obey the “Safer at Home” order but emphasized that does not mean stay inside. The mayor encouraged people to take walks, but maintain ‘social distance,” take care of both your physical and mental health as we endure through these strange days and times.
The mayor said, people need to enjoy the sunshine, get out and smile and wave at your neighbors, we need this interaction, but at the same time know that we will get through this and be stronger as a city, as a community and as a nation when we get to the other side.