Los Angeles residents were warned Sunday that failing to follow rules about gathering in large crowds when Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a desperate plea in an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In an update Sunday evening online and on television about the city's latest efforts to curtail the COVID-19 virus, Garcetti announced more restrictions and said he understands how fast the changes have been coming because of the coronavirus. He reminded people to follow social distancing guidelines, to stand at least six feet away from other people. It's a practice, he said, that will not only keep you safe but it will protect your loved ones and others as well.
He also told people not to take risks with their health.
"Don't mess around," he said. "This is too important."
Los Angeles County over the weekend saw its largest one-day jump yet in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 71 more patients and two more deaths reported. The Department of Public Health has now identified 409 confirmed cases of COVID-19, across all areas of Los Angeles County.
Garcetti said the city is launching a portal to be rolled out in the next couple of days designed to test the most vulnerable Angelenos -- 65 and over with underlying health conditions, who are showing symptoms. These residents will be prioritized to be tested, and will need to be able to prove identification to get those tests.
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The mayor said he understands the changes have been coming quickly in response to the fast-moving virus.
"I hope everyone has taken a moment to breathe this weekend," Garcetti said. "I love LA."
The city, he said, has ordered masks for medical personnel and the city's first responders.
He also thanked President Donal Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for ordering hospital ship, Mercy, to the Port of Los Angeles. It's home port is normally San Diego, he said. The ship will provide an extra 1,000 beds to house COVID-19 victims for treatment.
Garcetti also announced that in consultation with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the city is closing the Venice Beach Boardwalk, beach parking lots and all organized group sports, saying that the six-feet rule is in place to save lives.
The mayor also said the city is moving the homeless into rec centers and hopes to have 42 centers open for housing the homeless. He said the city is facing a shortage of medical personnel to staff the centers, which, is critical to housing them safely.
He also said the city is setting up a fund to provide childcare for health workers, assistance for the needy and meals for seniors. The goal, he said, is to raise $25 million as soon as possible for the fund.
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The county's public health department issued a revised "Safer At Home" order Saturday, which officials said was a step below a lockdown or shelter-in-place requirement. The previous order prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people, but the revised wording simply prohibits "all indoor and outdoor public and private gatherings and events."
People who go out for shopping or essential jobs are required to remain at least six feet away from anyone else. Residents are still free to go outside for walks, hikes or bike rides, but not in large groups.
Saturday's enhanced order also clarified that golf courses and personal grooming services -- including hair and nail salons -- are nonessential services and are closed.
It requires "all indoor malls and shopping centers, all swap meets and flea markets, all indoor and outdoor playgrounds and all non-essential businesses to close."
Businesses considered essential and permitted to remain open include hardware stores, repair shops, media outlets, banks, laundromats, dry-cleaners and pet supply stores.
Officials said the order was amended to more closely mirror Gov. Gavin Newsom's latest state order. It covers all 88 cities in Los Angeles County, although officials in Pasadena and Long Beach -- which have their own health departments -- issued similar mandates of their own.