“We are making progress,” said the mayor, “and while it is fragile, it is progress.”
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Noting that Los Angeles is currently seeing the highest level of hospitalizations since the pandemic began, Garcetti warned, “These [next two] weeks are absolutely critical. Critical to whether our schools open, whether our economy thrives.”
He reminded residents that “All options remain on the table. We will do whatever we need to.”
If things get worse, said Garcetti, “We’d likely return to a mandated stay-at-home order,” in one or two weeks.
“There are still too many social gatherings. Way too many pool parties,” he said.
“Parents, I need your help,” enjoined the mayor. “I need you to keep your children away from their friends.”
As a general guideline, Garcetti advised, “You should assume that everyone around you is infected.”
“Testing remains a critical tool,” he said.
“We hear very single day that there are not enough tests,” said the mayor, before announcing that the city and county had performed a record 20,000 tests on Wednesday. But in a city of 4 million people, however, that’s still not enough. “We need more help with testing,” he said.
“Without a major boost in testing,” continued the mayor, “there’s no way we can safely reopen our economy or to safely reopen schools.”
He then called for federal help: “Congress and the president need to step up and pass another aid bill.”
For those concerned that the city and county are only doing 20,000 tests a day, “Don’t be that scared by those numbers,” said Garcetti, “and I’ll tell you why: We saw two weeks ago that we had capacity, but no demand.” Now, Garcetti says, with increased demand, “I’m confident that within the next week we’ll get back to whatever path we need to [be on].”
But there is an even larger crisis looming, according to the mayor. “We’re going to see across this nation a testing emergency,” said Garcetti in response to a question from Deadline. He predicted a national squeeze on lab personnel, testing materials and contact tracing. He called on Congress to approve another round of economic support for Americans.
“We need national leadership, so this isn’t a dog-eat-dog [process],” said Garcetti. If states are pitted against each other again, as they were in the scramble for PPE then, said Garcetti, it becomes a zero-sum equation: “If Florida does well, California suffers,” and so on.
Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Tuesday confirmed 4,015 new cases of COVID-19, the region’s highest number of new cases reported since the pandemic began. The high number of cases is due, in part, to a backlog of about 2,000 test results received from one lab that just submitted lab results from July 2-5 today.
Testing results are available for more than 1.2 million individuals with 9% of those people testing positive. The daily positivity rate of all tests — a composite of a seven-day rolling average — has risen to 11.6%. On Monday, that seven-day average was pegged at 10%. A back of the envelope calculation shows L.A.’s one-day test positivity rate is 16 percent.
Also on Wednesday, California Hospital Association President and CEO Carmela Coyle offered a grim update from the medical community. “We’re preparing to surge,” she said. And with good reason.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom then announced a mind-boggling number of new coronavirus cases in the state. Over the previous 24 hours, California saw 11,694 new cases, which includes a backlog of cases from Los Angeles County.
Testing backlogs have spiked the state’s daily new-case numbers before, but Wednesday’s number so far exceeds the state’s previous all-time high of 7,149 reported on June 24 that it cannot be ignored.