Gov. Gavin Newsom will huddle with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday, March 27, the two chief executives coming together as the coronavirus outbreak widens its toll in the area and the USNS Mercy docks at local shores to address it.
The governor was expected to visit the U.S. Navy medical ship, which was in view off the Port of Los Angeles early Friday morning, as well as meet with LA city and county health officials.
Newsom’s visit comes as Southern California officials have faced sobering projections of what the next week or two could look like if the virus is not contained locally. The mayor and governor have been speaking to their constituents nightly, delivering the ominous news of the day and responding with new layers of orders aimed to protect the public.
On Thursday, Newsom provided yet another grim statistic about the economic devastation from the virus: 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 13 as businesses shut down or dramatically scaled back because of a statewide “stay-at-home” order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Meanwhile, Newsom said that California is rapidly expanding its supply of equipment for health care workers and hospital beds in anticipation of the expected surge in patients that will come as more people are infected. Testing for the virus is accelerating quickly as the state adds locations for the public to get checked.
Five of the nation’s largest banks have agreed to temporarily suspend residential mortgage payments for people affected by the coronavirus, Newsom said. The announcement came as Newsom provided yet another grim statistic about the economic devastation: 1 million Californians have filed for unemployment benefits since March 13 as businesses shut down or dramatically scaled back because of a statewide “stay-at-home” order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi and JP Morgan Chase will defer mortgage payments for three months. State chartered banks and credit unions will offer similar deferrals. The banks also pledged not to initiate foreclosure sales or evictions for the next 60 days. And they promised not to report late payments to credit reporting agencies.
Newsom said everyone is eligible, regardless of how much money they make. He said homeowners must submit “some form of documentation,” but did not give details.
Meanwhile, Newsom said California is rapidly expanding its supply of equipment for health care workers and hospital beds in anticipation of the expected surge in patients that will come as more people are infected. Testing for the virus is accelerating quickly as the state adds locations for the public to get checked.
“We are leaning in to meet this moment,” Newsom said.
The mayor announced equally grim news Thursday on LA’s economy, sacked by record unemployment applications in tandem with another 421 confirmed cases of the virus countywide. “This pandemic has fundamentally upended our lives and our economy and our workforce seemingly every night,” he said.
Garcetti said that a week or two from now L.A. will be dealing with a crisis on a scale of the battled being waged in New York City, where the numbers of sick has shot up drastically, overwhelming local hospitals.
Garcetti called on local garment workers to take part in an effort to manufacture 5 million masks, and eventually other life-saving health supplies.
Garcetti said that he is working with garment manufacture Reformation to produce general use masks to take the strain off of supplies of medical-grade N95 masks needed by doctors, nurses and others working directly with patients sick with COVID-19.
In the Inland Empire, officials also gave dire warnings. At current rates, Riverside County could have 50,000-plus cases and more than 1,000 deaths from the novel coronavirus by the start of May, with hospitals filled to capacity and ventilators running out by mid- to late-April, public health officials said Thursday, March 26.
Officials shared the dire projections as they urged county residents to stay home, practice social distancing, wash their hands and take other steps to avoid getting and transmitting COVID-19.
“That doesn’t have to be our future,” said Kim Saruwatari, county public health director. “By taking recommendations seriously, we can change those numbers. We have the ability to control our own future as a county, but it’s going to take all of us working together.”
As of Thursday:
- L.A. County: 1230 confirmed cases, 21 deaths
- Orange County: 256 confirmed cases, 1 death
- Riverside County: 107 confirmed cases, 8 deaths
- San Bernardino County: 55 confirmed cases, 3 deaths
The Associated Press contributed to this report