PREVIOUSLY, 12:37 PM: As coronavirus pandemic restrictions on retailers and public spaces loosen up, L.A. County’s top medical official said today that stay-at-home orders might remain in place well into the summer.
“I do think recovery will be months-long, based on the tools we have at hand today,” Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the region’s Public Health Director, said this morning at a meeting of the county’s powerful Board of Supervisors.
Stressing that “with all certainly,” the stay-at home order set to expire at the end of this week will be expanded all the way to August, Ferrer added that “our hope is that by using the data, we’d be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months.”
A formal announcement on what the new stay-at-home rules will be is expected to be made Wednesday, Ferrer said today. She did not unveil any more specifics this morning. (UPDATE: LA Mayor Eric Garcetti called into CNN later in the day to defuse the firestorm of “panic” that quickly followed Ferrer’s comments and promised there was “no radical change” coming.)
A regular presence on TV due to her daily briefings, Ferrer did note Tuesday that any further easing of the lockdown of sorts that the county and the City of Angels have been under since late March will only be a reality if there is a “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand.”
As of Monday, confirmed cases of COVID-19 and deaths in L.A. County continued to be on the rise. Heading into a full briefing later this afternoon, the L.A. County Public Health office said that the area has had over 32,250 cases and more than 1,560 fatalities as of 8 PM May 10. Those figures have moved up yet again, a civic source tells Deadline.
Ferrer’s remarks earlier today follow remote testimony by Dr. Anthony Fauci in front of the Senate warning against economically challenged states and municipalities reopening too soon and too fast as coronavirus continues to spread. The longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told lawmakers on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on Tuesday that he worries “we will start to see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks.”
Even though this past Mother’s Day weekend saw widespread disregard for social distancing and mask wearing as L.A. started allowing curbside pickup for some “non-essential” business, further easing already is occurring, kind of. In a case of one level of government possibly at odds with another, California Gov. Gavin Newsom just now proclaimed that restaurants in the Golden State can reopen for dine-in service as the latest measure in his Phase 2 scheme.
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“There should be no pressure, on local officials down in L.A. or anywhere,” Newsom said in his own daily pandemic briefing on Tuesday, “to feel that they have to move into this space sooner, because their conditions are very different from some of these rural counties.”
Although L.A. County beaches are set to reopen in part on Wednesday, no word yet if the Board of Supervisors or L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti will be onboard with bringing back those lunch and dinner meetings – though we are sure to find out soon.
“We are moving this slowly and this deliberately because hasty action …kills people,” Garcetti said on May 6 as moves by former San Fran Mayor Newsom and county officials essentially tied his hands over halting the political pressure to reopen America’s second largest city amidst dismal economic and employment statistics. “Data drives decisions, not political pressure,” the Mayor added last week. “Life is not going back to the way it was before. I’ve said in the days before, this isn’t about white and black, a completely closed city or a completely open one.”
Ferrer’s words today came as County Supervisors were debating whether or not to extend a ban on commercial and residential evictions due to not paying rent. On a 3-2 vote, the Supervisors agreed to keep the moratorium in place until June 30, with reconsiderations every month.