The Los Angeles Convention Center was being transformed Sunday into a federal field hospital to prepare for an expected surge in coronavirus cases in Southern California.
California's National Guard helped prepare the center Sunday, placing rows of hospital beds and medical supplies on the convention floor in an effort to relieve the pressure facing medical centers treating COVID-19 patients. The transformation was a dramatic change for a space that hosts major showcase events like the Los Angeles Auto Show.
It was not immediately clear when the field hospital would begin treating patients.
"The more we do, the quicker this will be over. The less we do, the longer it will be,'' Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday.
Garcetti said the city is in the process of opening up five new emergency shelters to move the homeless indoors. Currently, the city is operating 540 shelters, which are about 91% filled.
"We also expect that by tonight, those shelters will have reached between 97% and 100% capacity," he said.
He announced that the city was working with UPS and Everlywell to get coronavirus test kits to seniors and community healthcare providers on Skid Row.
He commended the City Council for requiring businesses to provide supplemental sick leave for employees suffering from coronavirus or caring for someone in their home with the illness.
The first homeless person who tested positive for COVID-19 turned up at Dockweiler State Beach, he said. That person was taken to a medical facility for treatment.
The U.S. Navy medical ship Mercy, which contains beds and which arrived Friday, has received its first three patients. Mercy will not be taking coronavirus patients, he said.
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He said the city's logistics officer is working to get 1 million masks to first-responders.
Garcetti is also asking hotel and motel owners to provide rooms for Angelenos who are homeless or who need to isolate with coronavirus. He said he believed those rooms would be paid for out of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"The owners will be paid by the city for the rooms. We're not asking them to donate the rooms," Garcetti said. "We believe these expenses will be reimbursed by FEMA. It's a reimbursable expense."
He urged hotel and motel owners to go to Coronavirus.LACity.org/Rooms.
He said 6,741 coronavirus tests have been conducted by the city, and that he expects to triple that number by the end of the week. He also said a fifth test site will be opened Monday.
He said the FBI completed a report showing an uptick in hate crimes against the Asian Community, he decried the attacks and emphasized the area's law enforcement agencies will jail anyone who commits a hate crime.
"This virus does not discriminate based on race, ethnic origin, age or gender," he said. "And there is no place for hate crimes in this city or in our community."
The rise in hate crimes against Asians may likely be traced back to President Donald Trump and some of his loyalists attempting to rebrand the coronavirus, the "China virus."
Garcetti said a Loyola Marymount University survey indicated that a third of people live with someone above the age of 65 or with underlying health problems, in other words, people at high risk of dying of COVID-19. He cited the survey, saying 80% of Angelenos are "worried" about getting sick, but only 40% "think" they will get sick.
Finally, he announced that Los Angeles County launched four new online dashboards covering COVID-19 proclamations, Parks and Recreation closures and service updates. Angelenos can access it at covid19.lacounty.gov/dashboards.