Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday Los Angeles is spending about $2 million per day on its COVID-19 testing program and has spent more than $100 million on testing in total -- but it has not received any reimbursements from the federal government.
Garcetti said this is due to the city not having its own public health department like Los Angeles County.
According to a letter Garcetti sent to Los Angeles congressional representatives urging for more federal financial support for cities, he said Congress should appropriate $1 trillion in direct emergency fiscal relief to state and local governments.
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Garcetti said $250 billion of that should go to direct assistance to cities to cover lost revenue, support COVID-19 retrofitting of municipal buildings and for other critical needs.
"I would tell Congress, don't go on vacation until you deliver help for the American people,'' Garcetti said during his COVID-19 update.
"We've got a couple weeks to have them deliver something to the president's desk for him to sign to extend benefits to make sure that unemployment continues to have cash payments."
About 18,700 applications were received in the first of six rounds of the city's LA Regional COVID-19 Recovery program, which began last week and provides $10 million in grants for businesses and qualified nonprofit organizations.
The second round is open to applicants through Friday at www.lacovidfund.org/grants.
Additionally, Garcetti said the city doesn't have to "take a cleaver" to shutting down businesses or other places at this time, as Los Angeles is not seeing the same positive COVID-19 tests as other cities across the nation. There is no imminent plan for more closures, but if there was he would give people notice ahead of them.
The Los Angeles COVID-19 risk indicator remained at "orange" on Wednesday, which means people need to take precautions and minimize contact with others as much as possible.
Throughout the weekend, however, Garcetti told multiple media outlets that Los Angeles was on the brink on going to "red," which would mean hospitals are overburdened and people could not go outside for anything except essential needs.
"We're seeing some good numbers," Garcetti said. "The level of COVID-19 transmission gets better or worse based on what we do as individuals and collectively. So while there's good news, know how fragile this moment remains."
Garcetti said according to county data in March, April and May, deaths at skilled nursing facilities and senior living homes made up 45% of the total deaths related to COVID-19. This month, they account for about 25% of all deaths related to the virus.
Garcetti also announced the start of L.A. Mask Print Project, an effort to remind Angelenos to wear a mask in public through open-source art in collaboration with local artists and businesses.
The initiative began with three commissioned posters in English and Spanish produced for free by Studio Number One, a Los Angeles creative studio founded by artist Shepard Fairey.
The city government will work with local small businesses to distribute the posters throughout the city, and residents and business can download and print the artwork for display in their windows as a way to "inspire one another to wear a face mask whenever they are outside their home," Garcetti said.
Anyone interested in displaying the free public artwork can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.