By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
A panel including medical professionals, the head of the Community Clinic Association of Los Angeles County and a representative from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office joined Councilmember Mike Bonin for a Telephone Town Hall to provide updates and answer questions related to COVID-19.
“Los Angeles is a different city than it was just a few months ago,” Bonin shared at the start of the Saturday, April 18, town hall. “Our schools and our houses of worship, our parks and our workplaces are empty, and it has been hard on all of us, but it is working.”
Bonin reported that LA and California are seeing success in flattening the curve of cases due to the restrictions and orders that are in place.
The five speakers that took part in the town hall, which included 600 residents, largely focused on medical questions and the Safer at Home order.
Dr. Jan King with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health shared that the situation is currently looking pretty hopeful, addressing a couple of things that residents can look toward.
“There’s increasing access to testing, which is expanding every day,” she said, adding that if a person is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, it is likely that they will be tested fairly easily. “As we enter into recovery, we hope to expand the access to testing.”
King explained that the true number of people infected is likely much higher than what current testing is showing and that when the Safer at Home order is lifted, a surge in cases and fatalities should be expected.
Louise McCarthy with the Community Clinic Association of LA County shared that part of what her department is working on is relief, recovery and new reality—which includes combating what’s happening, heading into recovery mode when things are stabilized and then addressing the new reality.
“We are currently in the relief period,” McCarthy said. “We are currently trying to stop the bleed, we’re trying to combat what is happening to our health, our economy, our system, our communities.”
She added that the rebuilding portion will have to take into account what the new normal is because “we’re not going back to the way things were ever again.”
“As we navigate this crisis, our number one priority—the mayor’s number one priority—and the value that guides every decision the mayor makes is human life,” Greg Good with the office of Mayor Garcetti explained. “Our mission is to protect Angelenos, to keep Angelenos safe and to save as many lives as possible.”
He said that if LA gets sloppy or pulls back prematurely and stops physical distancing, models show that hospitals could be overwhelmed by as early as mid-May.
The speakers then took about an hour’s worth of questions from residents of CD11, including which benchmarks or criteria will be used for relaxing or extending current orders in place.
King explained that the department will be looking at testing, making sure high-risk individuals are safe, being able to diagnose and isolate cases, and looking at people who have been exposed. Other factors include distancing at schools and making sure that hospitals are well supplied, with some orders being lifted before others.
“There is an incredible swirl of factors that are really necessary to figure out what that day is,” Good said, “and it would be irresponsible to speculate on what that is long term at this point anyway without knowing how those factors manifest.”
Good added that the mayor is committed to making sure minimal infection and public health is at risk before lifting or amending orders.
This marked the first in a series of remote town hall events that Bonin is planning over the course of the next few weeks. On Thursday, April 23, at 6:30 p.m., he will host a call focused on renters’ issues. To register, visit bit.ly/MBTH-0423.
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