Eric Garcetti has almost never met a media opportunity he didn’t like, but today the Los Angeles Mayor had to jump into damage control mode over confusing comments the top Public Health official in the county made about stay-at-home restriction going deep into the summer.
“I want to reassure people because I think there was a lot of panic suddenly the headlines said we’re all going to stay exactly as we are for three more months when that is not the case,” Garcetti told CNN’s Jake Tapper just now.
“I think quite simply she’s saying that we’re not going to fully reopen Los Angeles and probably anywhere in America without any protections or any health orders in the next three months,” the Mayor told the anchor via phone, stressing he had spoken to L.A. County Public Health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer just before calling into the cable newser. “I think we know it’s going to be longer than three months,” his Honor added making the whole situation as clear as mud, again.
Emphasizing continuing social distancing, the wearing of masks and “following the numbers,” the “panic’ that Garcetti referenced emerged from Dr. Ferrer early Tuesday telling the Board of Supervisors that “with all certainty,” the late March stay-at home order set to expire at the end of this week will be expanded to the end of July. Noting that only a “dramatic change to the virus and tools at hand,” Dr. Ferrer added “our hope is that by using the data, we’d be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months.”
On CNN, the media savvy Garcetti said that Dr. Ferrer “wanted to make sure that I communicated and what she was communicating is that we still need to have a public health order because there are some populations who will need to stay at home.”
“People need to know whenever possible that it is safer to stay at home,” the Mayor proclaimed as CNN coyly ran footage of masked Angelenos out running on public trails and playing golf on public courses in recent days. “There’s no radical changes in the next week coming, but that doesn’t mean three weeks from now, six weeks from now, two months from now, we won’t continuously edit that order.”
Unsurprisingly, with the swirling chaos, Dr. Ferrer did not appear today at the regular County briefing on the COVID-19 crisis. In fact, there was no County briefing at all today. Still, with August looking like the new benchmark, the Public Health director had also told Supervisors earlier Tuesday that an official announcement on extending the stay-at-home order would come at tomorrow’s briefing. Of course, now we don’t know if Dr. Ferrer herself will actually be at that briefing, or if it will actually occur.
What we do know is that if the criteria of ending the stay-at-home orders are a decline in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, L.A. County isn’t there yet. Just released figures from the Public Health department say that there are 33,180 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the County as of 8 PM last night with 1,613 deaths. That is a rise of 930 cases from yesterday and 53 more fatalities.
Coming just days after the state of California, LA County and the City of Angels all began loosening restrictions of retailers and use of public spaces, Ferrer’s remarks set off a firestorm as once again one level of government seemed not to be in sync with other levels of government.
Under harsh economic pressures from unprecedented unemployment and declining tax revenues, Gov. Gavin Newsom today said that restaurants can once again have dine-in service after weeks of pick-up or delivery only. Last week, Newsom and the County brought so-called Phase 2 easing allowing curbside pick-up from “non-essential” business like florists, book stores, clothing stores and more such retailers, as well as opening up most paths and hiking trails. Despite openly pervasive disregard for social distancing rules and the wearing of masks in public over the Mother’s Day weekend, which saw florists and super markets packed with customers getting a few roses for Mom, the plan is to partially open the Golden State’s beaches tomorrow.
At the same time, the Bay Area has rejected the loosening by the former San Francisco Mayor Newsom as local officials feel the curve has not been flattened enough and numbers are still going up incrementally – like they are in L.A.