close up of summer clothes and travel map on table

A return to normal life in the next few weeks seems unlikely as the state, county and city all announced stay-at-home orders on Thursday, March 19, calling on people to avoid public or private gatherings of 10 or more people, to remain inside, and for non-essential businesses to shut down. “I want to be clear about this, that the only time you should leave your home is for essential activities and need,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in Thursday’s press conference, adding that those activities include caring for a relative or child, getting food, or getting medical care.

The announcement came after Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the county’s health director, announced on Thursday that a second L.A. County resident had succumbed to the COVID-19 novel coronavirus.

The individual, described by Ferrer as “relatively young,” had an underlying medical condition and was between the ages of 30 and 50 years old, and lived near Pasadena. Ferrer continued to urge people to limit gatherings, to regularly wash hands, and to practice social distancing. “This is not the time to have a party at your house,” Ferrer said in announcing the second death. “This is not the time to go hang out with a whole crowd of people at the beach. This is not the time to be crowding up on our trails in our beautiful parks.

This is absolutely the time for everyone to practice social distancing.” Ferrer said that it’s likely that the County will see an increase in the number of positive cases over the next four-to-twelve weeks. “We implore you to take seriously every- one’s obligation to limit their exposure to others and limit others to being exposed to you, this is the one way we can all be serious about what it means to slow down the increasing number of cases in the county,” she said. As evidence of that escalation, between the March 18 and 19 updates by the County, 40 individuals tested positive for the virus. As of Wednesday, 1,700 people have been tested in the county, with 13% testing positive from local exposure and not from travel. As the number of confirmed COVID-19 coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rises, officials are implementing a series of orders and financial responses to protect businesses from a crippling drop in business.

Local government is also working to provide direct and indirect support to Los Angeles residents and businesses. City government approved an $11 million economic relief package, in the form of no-fee micro-loans to small businesses.

Garcetti also issued a pair of moratoriums for both commercial and residential evictions. The moratorium is in effect through March 31. Per the Mayor’s Office, landlords shall not evict any commercial and residential tenants who are unable to pay rent due to complications caused by the pandemic.

The Los Angeles City Council voted on related measures to build upon Garcetti’s efforts. “Angelenos who own businesses in our city deserve peace of mind,” Garcetti in a statement on Tuesday, March 17 when issuing the moratorium on commercial evictions. “The moratorium will help ease some of the deepest concerns while we get through this crisis together.”

The city is also working on a series of policies meant to protect Los Angeles’ unhoused population. That includes new emergency shelters at city recreation centers and alter- ing city ordinance on when people can have tents set up. On a state level, Gov. Gavin Newsom is advising seniors 65 years and older to stay at home for their own protection. Newsom also noted that most schools in the state will likely remain closed for the remainder of the school year. “I would plan and assume it is unlikely that many of these schools, few if any, will open before the summer break,” Newsom said during an online news conference on Tuesday, March 17.

Los Angeles Unified School District is currently closed, but offering free at-home education tools for parents.

In addition, the federal government is working on its own economic stimulus packages, for individuals and corporations.

Newsom also issued an executive order for the state to start using hotels to get California’s unhoused into shelter in a response to state analysis that found that California could be short 20,000 hospital beds. In addition, Newsom has put the state’s National Guard on alert.

Downtown is home to a number of hospitals, urgent care centers and clinics, including City West’s Good Samaritan Hospital and the Dignity Health’s California Hospital Medical Center in South Park. The latter said in a statement that it is prepared to test and treat anyone who might have come down with the coronavirus. “California Hospital has the supplies and equipment needed to effectively manage the care of any suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients,” Dignity Health said in a statement. “We are in contact with local and state health officials, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our staff is following the latest guidance from these public health agencies.”

Information on the virus and prevention are at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/media/ Coronavirus. nslayton@timespublications.com.