Coronavirus: County Increases Testing Capacity, City To Offer Financial Aid To Businesses

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health said the peak of the coronavirus pandemic could come in about a month, but admitted that’s just an estimate, as cases continued to add up.

“Ninety-six percent of the private tests are coming back negative and 4% positive,” Garcetti said. “Those are hopeful signs but that doesn’t mean to let up for one second.”

Garcetti pleaded with Angelenos Tuesday to stay strong during a very tough time. And with the outbreak already hitting the economy hard, Garcetti said city leaders were working on an aid package for small businesses.

“We’re looking to provide $11 million — no fee micro loans — to help a wide range of small businesses with their bills; to pay payroll, to pay their rent,” Garcetti said.

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And as the economic toll worsens, Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health, said there was some good news to report — officials have been able to expand testing.

“We want to remind everyone that we anticipated that we would see new cases, and we will continue to see new cases as we increase our capacity to test,” Ferrer said.

And as for whether social distancing or other intense measures ordered by local and state leaders are working, it will take time to see the results.

“We’re all headed for many, many more cases,” Ferrer said. “I would never give you information that wasn’t as accurate as what I know, so I do know that here in L.A. County, we will see many more cases.”

In response to a question of whether Los Angeles was headed in the same direction as Italy, Ferrer said it takes about three to four weeks before officials see dramatic increases like those that Italy is currently experiencing.

“We track what’s happening — not only in Italy but in Germany, which is a few days behind the curve that we’re seeing in Italy — to understand what we might see in the United States and be prepared for that,” she said.

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And as businesses close down, police Chief Michel Moore said the department was not letting its guard down with uniformed and undercover patrols in place.

“We’re mindful of the closed businesses, the restaurants that are only allowing for take out and drive-thru restaurants, the focus on grocery stores and and gatherings of people who are trying to get essentials,” Moore said. “So for that, we are shifting our organization with added patrols of detective personnel dedicated to those locations as well as tomorrow’s start of L.A. Unified’s pick up and go food program.

Los Angeles Unified School District’s “grab and go” food centers will be open Monday through Friday from 7-10 a.m. for parents to pick up breakfast and lunch bags until further notice.