Los Angeles is under federal scrutiny on two fronts over its handling of the coronavirus.
On Friday. Dr. Deborah Birx, one of the leaders of the White House effort to fight the virus, pointed to Los Angeles as an area of concern in an otherwise improving national picture.
“You can see we have concerns of where cities have remained closed but still have a persistent high number of cases,” Birx said, according to KCAL.
Los Angeles was not alone among the nation’s cities, she noted.
“Even though Washington has remained closed, L.A. has remained closed, Chicago has remained closed, we still see these ongoing cases,” she said, according to MSN.
Brix said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to work with those areas “to really understand where are these new cases coming from, and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”
Los Angeles County accounts for about 56 percent of California’s COVID-19 deaths and almost half of the state’s roughly 90,000 confirmed coronavirus cases.
A study by the University of California, Los Angeles, found urban density is a factor in the spread of disease in Los Angeles, according to The Associated Press. The student found 40 percent of LA’s black and Hispanic residents live in tightly packed neighborhoods where the virus can be easily transmitted.
“It just builds on the vulnerability of these residents and of these ethnic enclaves,” Sonja Diaz, co-author of the report and director of the UCLA Latino Policy & Politics Initiative, told the AP.
“They’re least equipped to deal with this virus because now they live in neighborhoods where they can’t stay at home and practice physical distancing, they’re hardest hit economically and then they’re not getting relief and recovery benefits.”
Los Angeles is also facing federal criticism for what one official called its “arbitrary and heavy-handed approach” to stay-at-home orders.
Eric S. Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, cited comments by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County’s director of public health, hinting that stay-at-home orders could remain in effect for months, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you suggested the possibility of long-term lockdown of the residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for such restrictions,” Dreiband wrote. “Any such approach may be both arbitrary and unlawful.”
Garcetti later said that LA officials are “not guided by politics in this, we are guided by science. We are guided by collaboration. So talking to industry and talking to business owners and talking to employees and labor groups together with science, the numbers will always guide us forward. There is nothing else.”
Garcetti said there were “no games” being played in his approach to the coronavirus.
“We were able to do this and save lives,” he said, according to the Times. “Now it’s time for us to test things moving forward and I think the proof’s in the pudding. We’ve been doing that, we’ve been doing it safely and we will monitor those numbers because people’s lives are at stake.”
Garcetti, who has gotten national attention for his decisions during the pandemic, also pushed back against Birx’s comments.
Los Angeles has shown “very steady progress,” he said.
“We’ve got the capacity, the ventilators, the beds available,” Garcetti said, according to the Times. “We’ve seen a plateau and we share that data publicly with everybody about the seven-day average. It’s holding where it is, which is dramatically different than where it was a month and a half, let alone two months ago.”
Ferrer also said that Los Angeles was doing just fine in its fight against the virus.
“Our overall data points are looking pretty good in terms of being on the recovery journey,” she said, according to the Times.
“We are moving in the right direction, and I want to acknowledge CDC has been a strong source of support for L.A. County since the beginning of the pandemic.”
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