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COVID-19 Daily; Western Pact requests Congress for $1 trillion emergency assistance

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California’s top elected leadership along with those of Oregon, Washington, Nevada, and Colorado’s, sent a letter to Congress requesting $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, addressed to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi,(D-CA), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy,(R-CA), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,(R-KY), and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer,(D-NY), says the states will be forced to make “deep cuts” to government programs if they don’t get the relief.

It is now clear that COVID-19 will be with us for the foreseeable future, and the worst of its economic impact is yet to come,” the letter stated. “Our states are on the front line against the virus while at the same time leading our states’ recovery.”

Speaking to reporters during his daily COVID-19 briefing at the state’s emergency operations center Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom said that the request was made in order to preserve core government services like public health, public safety and public education, and help people get back to work.

The state of California is experiencing record unemployment, with 4.5 million people filing claims just since March 12. The governor told reporters that California has paid out $13.1 billion in unemployment insurance claims since then and he noted that the state’s unemployment rate currently stands at about 20%.

In their letter, the state’s wrote, “[…] Without federal support, states and cities will be forced to make impossible decisions – like whether to fund critical public healthcare that will help us recover, or prevent layoffs of teachers, police officers, firefighters, and other first responders. And, without additional assistance, the very programs that will help people get back to work – like job training and help for small business owners – will be forced up on the chopping block.

That’s why we are respectfully, and urgently, requesting $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments. Though even this amount will not replace the decline in revenue that we forecast, it will make a meaningful difference in our ability to make-up for COVID-19 revenue losses. […]”

The letter closed stating, “Red and blue states alike all are faced with the same COVID-19 math, as are Democratic and Republican mayors across our states. The moment requires unprecedented partnership from all of us – across every level of government and across party. We urge you to take swift action to help states and local governments provide core government services for American families.”

The White House and the Senate’s Republican leadership have balked at providing further federal economic spending in the light of the staggering $3 trillion already spent in recovery programs. Republicans remain divided over approving another round of federal aid after the March stimulus package sent $150 billion earmarked for states and cities.

Newsom reflected that although the state was moving into Phase Two reopening of the state’s economy and applauded efforts by Californians to continue to flatten the curve in the past twenty-four hours, there had been 25 additional deaths. The governor did note though that the uptick in new hospitalizations at 0.9% reflected a positive note especially as the ICU case rate dipped by 0.4%.

As of Monday, California reported 69,276 cases of COVID-19 and 2,778 deaths. The total number of cases for the United States stood at 1,347,881 while 80,682 Americans have died so far.

In Los Angeles, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) has confirmed 39 new deaths and 591 new cases of COVID-19. One death was reported by the City of Long Beach. To date, LACDPH has identified 32,258 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 1,569 deaths.

Currently, LA County is in phase two of the five-stage roadmap to recovery which allows florists and some retailers to offer curbside pickup only, car dealership showrooms to reopen with appropriate physical distancing and infection control measures, and trails and golf courses to reopen with pro shops remaining closed to public entry.

LACDPH surveyed businesses this past weekend to determine if physical distancing and infection control measures were being followed. Of the 410 businesses surveyed, 162 were in violation of the Health Officer Order because they were allowing customers into stores, not following physical distancing measures, and not requiring customers to wear cloth face coverings.

In an emailed statement, LACDHP wrote: “As a reminder, retail establishments are closed to public entry and must ensure compliance with all protocols before reopening. Inspectors will continue to monitor for compliance and ensure that all adhere to the Health Officer Order.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters on Monday the city is considering closing some streets to give residents more space to exercise during the Stay-At-Home pandemic order.

So as the beaches open, we can also have places for inland folks to walk safely — not events, not gathering places — but places where we can make sure we get outside and enjoy L.A.,” Garcetti said.

This would mean restricting traffic on certain streets, especially in densely-populated areas, to create more space for pedestrians,” he added.

We’re working with council members from around the San Fernando Valley, central parts, south parts of our cities to find those neighborhoods that are ready,” the mayor said.

The City of West Hollywood announced Monday via a media release that it is continuing its COVID-19 free webinar series with three upcoming informational presentations.

On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, at 2:30 p.m. the City will present Employer and Employee Resources. The new Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law on March 27, 2020, to help protect people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19 and provides fast and direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses.

The CARES Act has raised a lot of questions, oftentimes without clear answers. The coronavirus pandemic has forced everyone to quickly shift protocols and tackle workplace culture with a new perspective.

Employers may have uncertainty about available options and may want information about what steps to take. The webinar will include information about the CARES Act and how it may benefit employers and employees, including an overview of the Paycheck Protection Loan Program; safely bringing back the workforce; managing remote employees; cost-effective and creative ideas on how to leverage remote resources; improving the workplace culture utilizing technology; and, employee support programs. Register online here.

On Thursday, May 14, 2020, at 3 p.m. the City and the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce will present Accessing Mediation Services for Commercial Tenants and Landlords to provide information on mediation services available to commercial tenants and landlords who are unable to agree upon the terms of rent repayment, rent owed during the state of emergency, and additional details that may need to be negotiated as a result of the City’s temporary moratorium on commercial evictions. This webinar will provide interested parties information on how to access mediation services, what to expect through the process, and how it benefits both the landlord and the tenant to willingly participate in the process. Register online here.

On Tuesday, May 19, 2020, at 2 p.m. the City will present How to Protect Your Business from Cyber Threats. Many businesses have transitioned to working virtually as a result of COVID-19. Now more than ever, cybersecurity is vital to help keep your business secure. In this presentation, you will learn about the current threat landscape, where the threats are coming from, and how to prevent being a victim of such threats. It’s not all doom and gloom however; participants will also learn multiple techniques to protect themselves and customers’ information from harm. Register online here.

The City of West Hollywood has issued an Emergency Executive Order aimed at assisting businesses and workers and has produced a toolkit for businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis. Information is available on the City’s website at www.weho.org/coronavirus where there are links to Small Business Resources.

Prior City of West Hollywood webinars topic include: Combatting Loneliness, Isolation, Depression, and Anxieties during COVID-19; Rethinking Your Business Model; Information on the City’s Residential Eviction Moratorium; Information on the City’s Commercial Eviction Moratorium; and, Information on the City’s Job Assistance Programs.

These webinars are archived on the City’s coronavirus information page located at www.weho.org/coronavirus for future viewing.

The City of West Hollywood’s COVID-19 Free Webinar Series is for informational purposes only and webinars not intended to constitute legal or medical advice; rather, all information, content, and materials available in these webinars is for general informational purposes only.

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Coronavirus

White House orders distribution of 400 million free N95 masks

Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator; “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks”

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President Joe Biden (Blade file photo/screenshot)

WASHINGTON – As the latest surge of the highly contagious and easily transmissible Omicron variant of the coronavirus continues to cause a rise in hospitalizations, especially among unvaccinated adults and children, the White House announced Wednesday it is making 400 million N95 masks available for free at thousands of locations across the nation.

The plan an admkistartion official said, is to start shipping the nonsurgical masks to pharmacies and community health centers to distribute this week, which will come from the Strategic National Stockpile.

In an interview with NBC News, Dr. Tom Inglesby, the administration’s Covid testing coordinator, said, “We know that these masks provide better protection than cloth masks.”

The N95 masks will be made available to everybody, and recipients will not be prioritized based on vulnerability to Covid, income or other criteria. Inglesby said the administration was “confident that people who want to access them will be able to access them,” but it was not immediately clear how many masks a person could receive at one time.

On January 13, President Joe Biden had announced a plan to have the government distribute 1 billion rapid, at-home COVID-19 tests free to Americans, along with the N95 masks, as the administration works to fight the spiraling upward spike in coronavirus cases.

The White House website to order free at-home Covid tests went live Tuesday. The website says: “Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests. The tests are completely free. Orders will usually ship in 7-12 days.”

A White House official said Wednesday that the distribution of 400 million masks would be the largest deployment of personal protective equipment in U.S. history.

Inglesby told NBC News that the administration was “absolutely preparing for the possibility of additional variants in the future” and that people could expect the government to make N95 masks “more and more available.”

Biden announces free masks, tests to fight omicron:

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Coronavirus

COVID-19 Cases increase by nearly 10 times in one month

While hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID

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Graphic courtesy of UCLA/Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

LOS ANGELES – A total of 31,576 new COVID-19 cases were documented on Monday — up ten times the number of cases reported on Dec. 17, 2021, when there were 3,360 new cases recorded the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported Monday.

There are  4,564 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, nearly 6 times the number from one month ago when 772 people were hospitalized. The daily positivity rate is 16.5%, more than 8 times the 2% daily positivity rate on December 17th.

Just one week ago, the county surpassed 2 million total COVID-19 cases, with the figure reaching 2,289,045 cases as of Monday.

“On this national holiday where we celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, we remember his deep commitment to health equity.  As Reverend King memorably said, ‘Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhuman because it often results in physical death,’ ” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Director of Public Health.

“Tragically, we have seen this play out in real life and very clearly over the past two years with the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on people of color. From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation,” she added.

“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the health department said in a statement released last week.

As of Friday, more than 80% of all adult ICU beds in the county were occupied.

There are also 27 new deaths due to COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and 31,576 new positive cases.

The public health department also noted that while the number of children hospitalized with the virus remains low, the number of them admitted to L.A. County hospitals “significantly increased” over the past month, with the largest increase among children younger than 5 years old.

The increase mirrors trends seen nationwide for the age group — the only one not yet eligible for the vaccine.

The county also saw its highest coronavirus death rate in nearly 10 months over this past week, with an average of 40 COVID-19 deaths a day.

“From the onset of the pandemic, communities of color have experienced the greatest devastation from COVID-19 in Los Angeles County and throughout the nation. As we continue to implement strategies – enforcing worker protections through our Health Officer Orders, providing resources needed by many to survive the impact of the pandemic, funding community-based organizations in hard hit areas to serve as trusted public health messengers, and increasing vaccination access in under-sourced neighborhoods – we also need to come together to address the impact that racism, historical disinvestment, and social marginalization have on COVID-19 outcomes,” Ferrer said.

“While these conditions predate the pandemic, without deliberate collective actions to address the root causes of health inequities, we are unlikely to close the gaps we have documented for 2 long years,” she added.

California has recorded more than 7 million coronavirus cases after its fastest accumulation of reported infections in the history of the pandemic, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The unprecedented count, recorded in California’s databases late Monday, comes one week after the state tallied its 6 millionth coronavirus case.

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Coronavirus

Los Angeles County surpasses 2 million COVID cases

While hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID

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Los Angeles Blade file photo

LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County health officials are urging residents to postpone nonessential gatherings and avoid some activities – especially those that will include people who are unmasked, unvaccinated or at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness.

This comes as Los Angeles County recorded a grim milestone Monday as the Department of Public Health reports that the County has now confirmed more than 2 million total cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

The Los Angele Times reported early Tuesday that hundreds of thousands of Los Angeles Unified students returned to campus from winter break Tuesday morning amid a record-breaking surge in coronavirus cases.

As they stood in long lines to enter campus, the district’s health-screening system crashed. These conditions, including staffing shortages, student absences, and apprehensive parents and students, put the district’s carefully laid plans to open campuses in the nation’s second-largest school district to the test.

Although some students and parents were anxious amid the Omicron surge, they said they wanted to be back in the classroom. District leaders said strict campus safely precautions are in place, the Times reported.

The surge, which has now created uncertainty in the business community as some restaurants and other retail operations close up due to staffing shortages or out of caution, prompted County Public Health to ask that residents postpone nonessential gatherings just ahead of the long Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend.

Public Health officials are also concerned as LA-based Super Bowl is a mere month away. The recommendation is voluntary and officials have not imposed any new restrictions that could put any events in jeopardy.

The latest Public Health data shows vaccines are still the best way to protect against the coronavirus. In L.A. County cases have continued to increase rapidly across all groups however at significantly lower levels for vaccinated individuals. For the week ending December 25th, case rates were much higher for those unvaccinated. There were 991 new cases per 100,000 unvaccinated; 588 cases per 100,000 fully vaccinated without boosters; and 254 cases per 100,000 fully vaccinated with boosters.

The vaccine also continues to provide very strong protection against hospitalization and death. One way to evaluate the protection offered by vaccines is rate ratios. These ratios compare rates of an outcome in unvaccinated people with rates of the same outcome in fully vaccinated people. The higher the rate ratio, the more protective the vaccine is against the outcome.

The hospital rate ratio was 9 when comparing those unvaccinated vs those fully vaccinated without boosters, meaning a 9-fold higher rate of hospitalization for the unvaccinated compared to this protected group. More markedly, the hospital rate ratio was 38 when comparing the unvaccinated vs fully vaccinated with boosters, meaning those fully vaccinated and boosted were 38 times less likely to be hospitalized than those unvaccinated.

“With surging transmission and rapidly rising cases and hospitalizations, our already understaffed health care providers are under enormous strain as they try to care for so many COVID infected people,” Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County Health Director said.

About 14% of the patients with COVID-19 were in the ICU, and 7% were on a ventilator.

“The good news is that while hospitalizations continue to climb, Public Health data shows that many positive cases are admitted for reasons other than COVID but, are identified with COVID when tested for COVID upon hospital admission,” the LA County Public Health Department said in a news release.

“However, at the moment, vaccinations alone are not sufficient to get us back to slowing the spread.  We all need to exercise more caution in the weeks ahead.  One effective strategy for reducing transmission is to wear a high-quality mask whenever around non-household members,” Ferrer said.

“Given the dominance of the highly infectious Omicron variant, well-fitting masks provide a great layer of protection to both the wearer and all those nearby. It is also time to pause those non-essential activities where people are unmasked and in close contact with others. The reality is that parties and events, especially those indoors, make it easy for the virus to spread. Limiting our time with others to those more essential work or school activities is a prudent action for us to take when-ever possible until the surge subsides,” she added.

COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective and are recommended for everyone 5 years old and older to help protect against COVID-19. Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status. Appointments are not needed at all Public Health vaccination sites and many community sites where first, second, and third doses are available. 

To find a vaccination site near you, or to make an appointment, please visit:

www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) or www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). 

If you need assistance, you can also call 1-833-540-0473 for help: 

  • Finding an appointment
  • Connect to free transportation to and from a vaccination site, or 
  • Schedule a home visit if you are homebound. 

For more information regarding COVID-19 in LA County you can also visit the Public Health website at www.publichealth.lacounty.gov 

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