The Los Angeles Convention Center will become a field hospital to help relieve the pressures brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Sunday, March 29, in the information-packed latest edition of his evening livecasts.

A team from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — alongside 30 members of the US National Guard — helped equip the convention halls with medical supplies and cots, Garcetti said.

The mayor’s remarks came as the county announced 332 new cases on Sunday and five additional deaths.

“I mourn and the rest of us mourn for those who have lost a loved one today,” Garcetti said. “We are with you and feel your pain and will mourn alongside you.”

Garcetti also confirmed the first homeless person tested positive for the coronavirus.

To help out with the mammoth task facing LA’s medical community, Garcetti announced Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka would serve as the city’s new chief logistics officer. Job One for Seroka: Coordinate getting hospitals get supplies they need to fight the widening outbreak.

Seroka would help get roughly 1 million face masks currently in storage into the hands of first responders and also help solidify a secondary supply chain for personal protective equipment, Garcetti said.

Garcetti began his address, fitting for a Sunday, with calls to be thankful and consider the bright side of the daunting situation facing the city — and the world.

“I think we all feel the heaviness of life these days,” Garcetti said. “We can see the sunshine each day as we navigate these tough moments.”

But the mayor acknowledged that getting outside was not advisable these days except to pick up groceries, to get some exercise or to walk a pet. With beaches and parks mostly closed, there were limited options.

“Yesterday and today was the first time we saw across California our beaches and trail heads, the parks who define who we are, were not there for us,” Garcetti said.

Garcetti, who described speaking with more than 50 mayors from around the world during a conference call on Friday, said Angelenos should prepare for two months of isolation and closures — and then leaders will “assess where we are.”

It’s possible, Garcetti said, that some people could be released from isolation earlier than others.

Garcetti also offered additional points of progress around the city:

  • LA had, as of Friday, tested 6,741 people at four drive-up testing locations. Garcetti said the city will likely double that pace to 13,000 tests by the end of the week. On Monday, the city will open its fifth testing location, with slots open by appointment only at coronavirus-virus.la.
  • On Friday, five more recreation buildings re-opened as temporary shelter for homeless people, bringing the number of available beds now to 540 — with nearly 100% capacity already attained. Another 13 recreation centers will open with bed space later this week.
  • Roughly 900 hotel and motel rooms are now available for those awaiting COVID-19 testing or who need somewhere to safely quarantine, the mayor said. Garcetti called on additional lodging-center owners to offer their rooms to the city, for compensation, by going to Coronavirus.lacity.org/rooms
  • The first 25 out of 535 campers have arrived at Parks and Recreation shelter sites provided by the State of California for homeless people.
  • UPS and Everlywell have stepped up to get coronavirus test kits to seniors and healthcare workers  on Skid Row.
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