L.A. County announced 50 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus, bringing the county’s total to more than 140.
“We continue to see a huge increase in the number of cases,” public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said during a press conference Tuesday, adding that the rise in numbers is largely due to the increased capacity for testing.
Ferrer stressed the need for people to stay home, including anyone who is sick.
“If you’re sick and you’re an essential worker, please don’t come to work,” she said. “We cannot have people that are sick, even with mild illness, going about their business.”
Officials also announced a moratorium on all no-fault residential and commercial evictions, starting retroactively on March 4 and lasting until May 31. Tenants will have six months after the end of the emergency proclamation to pay for lost rent, Sup. Hilda Solis said.
Additionally, as concern over the coroanvirus grows, officials said there’s been a decline in blood donations. Nearly 160 blood drives have recently been canceled, resulting in 5,500 fewer blood donations. Officials are asking those who are healthy to continue to make a donation, which has a shelf-life of roughly 42 days.
The coronavirus has claimed 11 lives in California as officials took extraordinary measures to try to slow the spread by shuttering businesses, demanding that older individuals stay home and trying to increase testing for the virus.
More than 470 people from across the state have tested positive for the coronavirus, but officials admit that is just a fraction of the real number. A lack of tests had made it impossible for officials to get a clear handle on the numbers or the spread. To date, roughly 58,878 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the U.S., Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Adm. Brett P. Giroir said during a press briefing Tuesday.
President Trump said that all states now have the ability to authorize and use tests.
Trump also said that he spoke with restaurant executives earlier, and stressed the importance of takeout and delivery options and workers who will continue to make those services available, while reiterating the call for people to work from home.
“We’re asking everyone to work at home if possible, avoid unnecessary travel and stop gathering in groups of at least 10,” he said. “By making shared sacrifices and temporary changes, we can protect the health of our people, and we can protect our economy.”
Los Angeles County officials announced the closure of all bars, fitness centers and movie theaters and directed restaurants to move to takeout only. The directive applies to all 88 cities and unincorporated regions of the county, including Los Angeles, which issued a similar directive Sunday.
Gov. Gavin Newsom made a similar announcement Monday evening, asking all California restaurants to close their doors to dine-in customers and that gyms, health clubs and movie theaters should also shutter their operations.
“We’re asking people to shelter in place, to isolate at home,” Newsom said during an update broadcast on Facebook Live. “The point of gatherings is lost on all of us from a public safety and health perspective. So directing … no gatherings … we think it’s very rational under these circumstances. Disruptive, I know, for some. But rational, we believe, in this moment.”
Shelter in place
Seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area issued sweeping orders Monday that will force most businesses to close and residents to “shelter in place” inside their homes — the nation’s most stringent public health measures yet as state and local governments strain to rein in the coronavirus.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed called Monday’s order a necessity, suggesting that the federal response to the COVID-19 virus had been too slow and that local governments needed to take bold action to slow the sometimes deadly virus.
While it is possible Southern California authorities will issue similar orders, for now the focus is on the Bay Area, home to the greatest number of cases with counties reporting three deaths in just the last two days.
The order was issued by public health officials in San Francisco and six other counties — Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa, Alameda and Santa Cruz, and also from the city of Berkeley. The actions affect nearly 7 million residents and thousands of businesses. It was scheduled to take effect at midnight Monday and remain in force until April 7.
San Francisco Police Chief Bill Scott said police are asking the public to voluntarily comply. While violation of the health order could be enforceable as a misdemeanor, “that is an absolute last resort,” Scott said. “This is not about a criminal justice approach to a public health issue.”
The orders recognized that homeless people would not be able to shelter in place and instead urged them “to find shelter” adding that “government agencies are urged to take steps needed to provide shelter for those individuals.”
Throughout the state, officials continue to take precautions, with or without shelter-in-place orders.
Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes moved to decrease deputies’ contact with the public Tuesday, closing front lobbies of stations, reducing in-person police reports and suspending visits to the jails.
“Our foremost responsibility is to keep the community safe, while implementing precautionary measures to safeguard the health of the public who rely on our service and the members of the department who respond to their call,” Barnes said.
All volunteer programs have also been suspended, including senior programs in contract cities and those provided by jail volunteers.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow said the department has moved deputies from investigative units and increased visibility at food shopping areas as part of its response to novel coronavirus.
He said the department is also screening new inmates in an open area outside the jail for health issues but is continuing at this stage to allow jail visitors. The county has 10 cases of the virus.
Sacramento County announced a partial closure of court operations in order to “promote public safety and health while protecting liberty and due process, “officials said.
Court calendars are being reduced to only “most essential” and “mandated” hearings, and telephone appearances will be used where feasible. The court building that handles traffic cases and small claims is closed, as are self-help centers. Cases deemed essential to public safety or where delay could cause irreparable harm to victims are continuing as scheduled, but non-essential criminal matters will continue in 30 to 45 days. And the county grand jury is deferred until mid-May.
California Supreme Court and L.A County courts previously made similar decisions.
As of Monday night, California had at least 472 confirmed cases. Of those cases, 82 are travel-related, 75 are person-to-person and 98 are community transmission. At least 193 cases are under investigation.
More than 11,750 people who returned to the U.S. through San Francisco International Airport or Los Angeles International Airport are self-monitoring
Riverside County confirmed its first two deaths associated with COVID-19, two patients in the Coachella Valley.
“Sadly, these outcomes are expected as we face a serious challenge and continue to make the necessary decisions to protect the health of the community,” Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said in a statement.
Santa Clara County confirmed two additional deaths, bringing that county’s total to four. And Sacramento County confirmed one person had died, bringing its total to two deaths, both people who were older than 70 and had underlying health conditions.
Officials said that all hospitals were preparing for a surge in patients.
Kern County confirmed its first case of coronavirus Tuesday. The individual is not a resident of the county, public health officials said.
Officials are currently working to identify potential contacts of the individual and will monitor the health of individuals who traveled with the person in an attempt to prevent any possible community transmission.
In Long Beach, the number of cases rose by three, bringing the city’s total to eight.
The three new cases include two individuals who traveled to locations of known outbreak and one person whose exposure is currently under investigation.
At least 110 people in the city are currently being monitored for the virus.
Millions of families in Los Angeles and across the state were forced to adjust Monday to closed schools, child-care hassles, an uneven move to online learning and a strained social safety net — the education system fallout from an unprecedented effort to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
L.A. Unified announced more bad news: District officials late on Monday canceled their innovative effort to offer child-care, counseling and learning materials at 40 new family resource centers, citing health risks.
Instead, 60 “grab-and-go” food centers will be available for school families.
With about 85% of California students out of school, many districts in the state were trying to move toward online education — an especially tall order in a state where 60% of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals because they are members of low-income households. In Los Angeles public schools the number is even higher, at 80%; in Compton it’s at 83%; Pomona, 89%.
Besides the potential for hungry children, in Los Angeles, for instance, this poverty also means that one-quarter of families do not have broadband service and additional families lack adequate data plans or computers needed to support online learning, said LAUSD Supt. Austin Beutner.
Times staff writers Hannah Fry ,Chris Megerian, Richard Winton and Paige St. John contributed to this report.