LA Mayor Update: Updates on Project Roomkey and Skilled Nursing Facilities

Ameera Butt
May 19, 2020 - 5:43 pm
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LA Mayor Eric Garcetti announced updates on skilled nursing facilities and Project Roomkey Tuesday.

He announced the update to Project Roomkey, a collaborative effort by the State, County and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) to secure hotel and motel rooms for vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.

He said the city has secured a hotel in downtown LA which will provide 150 more rooms, and nearly 100 rooms in a mid-City hotel for a total of 250 new rooms just today in the LA area.

When it came to skilled nursing facilities, Garcetti said 52 percent of the deaths have happened in skilled nursing facilities.

On Tuesday, he gave an update saying as of today with three mobile testing teams, the city has completed testing at 101 of the 135 skilled nursing facilities with more than 25,000 residents and workers tested.

"We are getting this done through the power of partnerships," Garcetti said. 

These facilities may request test kits from the mobile team if they cannot provide them on their own. http://Coronavirus.LACity.org/Testing

He reminded the public that through an emergency order, all skilled nursing facilities now have to conduct testing for all residents and workers in the city of LA at least once a month and also deliver notices of that testing date to all residents and workers and any public members, press or government.

Earlier in the month, Garcetti answered questions residents asked the Mayor’s Help Desk Monday, live on Facebook, from his office at City Hall.

He said the good news is the numbers are stable.

"The bad news is people are still dying," Garcetti said.

He said if the numbers go in the wrong direction, "we won't hesitate to do what we did in the beginning to save lives." 

"Make sure we all earn these steps moving forward," Garcetti said.

Garcetti said both city and county inspectors were out in the flower markets this past weekend to enforce to the safety protocols. 

In relation to the trails, he said "so far, so good." 

What about LA County beaches? Garcetti said LA is one of the beach cities that, together with Santa Monica and Malibu, has been looking at that and said to "stay tuned."

"I do personally support that our beaches are open for active recreation. I don't think we can afford people sitting, tanning in the dry areas of the sand but the wet sand areas if you need to get in there to swim, to surf, to get in there and make sure folks can walk or jog. that is something I hope we can earn again and get the support of the County in coming days and I know those cities along the beach are looking at that so we can have a place to spiritually recharge and a place that is great," Garcetti said Monday.

Garcetti gave an update about utilities Thursday.

-LADWP will not shut off service for non-payment for the rest of this year, so no one has to worry about losing water or power if they can't afford the bill during difficult times.

-Garcetti signed a law passed by Council to prohibit landlords from using coercion, intimidation, or fraud against renters to get their stimulus checks.

-The LA City Council voted to extend the rent increase freeze for RSO units until 12 months after the emergency period is lifted.

Garcetti gave an update on legal services for Angelenos hit by COVID-19 in the city Tuesday.

-new initiative LA Represents, a pro bono program that will provide legal services to Angelenos facing hardships due to COVID-19. The website is: Coronavirus.LACity.org/LARepresents

TESTING AT NURSING HOMES UPDATE

When it comes to mandatory testing at all skilled nursing facilities, Garcetti also announced effective Monday May 4, all skilled nursing facilities are required to hand-deliver notices to all residents and staff, which could include the last date that testing was offered and the next date it will be offered. The notices must be circulated once a month. In the April order, the Mayor required every 80 or so skilled nursing facilities in the city of LA to provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing for its employees, residents, and contractors every month. 

-city secured a hotel in Downtown LA for more than 460 new rooms for Project Roomkey to help the homeless, bringing our total to more than 3,000 hotel/motel rooms across the county.

CLASS OF 2020

There's good news for the class of 2020.

Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a partnership with L.A. Compact Thursday supporting students where any student in the class of 2020 can fill out a form describing questions, problems or concerns and receive help from their accepted college, high schools or a nonprofit partner who will be in touch to help the student navigate the process.

The website to fill out the form is: coronavirus.lacity.org/collegeconnect

"I want the class of 2020 and all the students to know we have your back. We believe in you. We will not let this disease crush your dreams," Garcetti said.

He said he knows the pandemic won't take away the dreams.

N95 MASKS PURCHASE

The Mayor of LA announced Tuesday the city has signed an agreement with Honeywell to purchase 24 million N95 masks.

He said the masks will be produced by a factory in the United States.  The masks will be for first responders and healthcare workers and distributed at cost to hospitals in need.

He said the first 100,000 delivered in May, 500,000 delivered in July and scaling up to 1.2 million a month by November.

Garcetti also announced that on Skid Row there have been 65,000 non-medical masks given out to unhoused Angelenos, outreach workers and those on the frontlines saving lives.

Meanwhile, businesses in need of masks for workers can go to http://Coronavirus.LACity.org/LAProtects

Mayor Eric Garcetti said the data is showing that the curve really is beginning to flatten Monday.

"The trend is positive, it's slowly leveling off," Garcetti said.

He said adding to keep social distancing, keep washing your hands and keep staying home for now.

SKILLED NURSING FACILITIES AND TESTING

Los Angeles Eric Garcetti announced some updated on skilled nursing facilities Friday.

Garcetti said he would enact a companion emergency order, similar to the mandated additional health measures enacted by LA County, that would require every 80 or so skilled nursing facilities in the city of LA to provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing for its employees, residents, and contractors every month. 

Earlier today, the LA County Public Health Department officials announced a new order that will mandate testing for staff and residents with or without symptoms at all nursing homes in LA County that will start Monday.

"We believe this is the first city in the country to mandate that monthly testing," he said. "Additionally, operators of these facilities may request testing kits from our city's Emergency Operatorations Center if they can't figure out how to do it on their own. Please, try to make those relationships, get that testing through healthcare providers in these facilities but we are here to help you if that falls short."

On Thursday, Garcetti recapped the number of deaths in the county, which stood at 797 today.

He said COVID-19 is the leading cause of death above health disease and emphysema in the county. 

He also recapped some measures and laws passed by the city in the past few days.

For example, the LA City Council extended the rent increase freeze to the vast majority of rental units in the city governed by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the entire year after the end of this emergency period.

Garcetti said he also signed into law the anti-price gouging measure that will prevent anyone from using the crisis to exploit Angelenos in their most difficult moments. Garcetti said the law says if you are re-selling items like hand sanitizer or masks for a profit, fines can reach up to $1,000 or people can even face jail time.

"So don't hoard and certainly make sure you are not exploiting Angenelos by price gouging in this crisis," he said.

He announced how the prepaid debit cards given out to those in need of assistance through the Mayor's Fund of Los Angeles have already distributed 1,136 Angeleno Cards helping more than 3,000 people totaling more than $1.1 million.

Garcetti announced the city will distribute 15,000 additional cards to help 45,000 individuals in need in the coming days. He said as a reminder to the public, applications for the Angeleno Cards are closed.

That is possible due to a $5 million gift from the state of Qatar through their consulate in LA.

UPDATE ON LA CONVENTION CENTER

The mayor also gave an update on the Los Angeles Convention Center, which was going to house a medical relief center in the South Hall to help alleviate the stress on nearby hospitals when it came to COVID-19. 

He said the center is ready to receive patients as needed, adding the medical relief is ready if the need arises to absorb patients who are positive.

"We built this center to ensure our healthcare system can handle a potential surge in COVID-19 cases," Garcetti said. "It will serve low acuity patients and free up beds in our region's hospitals. It's there if we have a surge in our homeless encampments or Skid Row, and we are working with local, medical staffing agencies to bring on nurses, certified nursing assistants and other medical staff." 

Garcetti said an initial 175 beds will be available for patients who are COVID-19 negative.

GUIDELINES TO REOPENING LA

As Mayor Eric Garcetti mentioned earlier in the day on CNN Wednesday, he doesn't foresee large gatherings happening until 2021.

Similar to how California Gov. Newsom outlined in an address on Tuesday on when to reopen the state, Garcetti said there are five strategies that will determine when the city will reopen and everyone can go back to school, work and be in public spaces:

-wide-spread testing for people who are asymptomatic and everyone with COVID-19 symptoms. That includes the different types of tests including the nasal or mouth swab tests and antibody testing.

-real-time surveillance is needed to detect and prevent new outbreaks so that COVID-19 can be tracked in real-time.

-immediate response to new cases of the virus with an even more aggressive approach like quickly isolate cases, trace and communicate with contacts and quarantine non-immune people who have been exposed to COVID-19.

-question of hospital capacity including available beds for patients.

--ongoing research and development when it comes to developing treatments and vaccines and cures.

Garcetti said getting back to medium and large gatherings "will take time."

"While we don't know what any date will be now, we do know the more we do now the sooner those dates will come," Garcetti said.

Garcetti stressed the importance of adhering to the extension of the Safer at Home order until May 15, physical distancing and more.

He said LA County has the highest population and highest number of cases in any county in California. He said LA County has the second-highest rate of infection and the highest rate of death. 

"Put differently, we are about  40 percent of statewide cases here in LA County and LA City is about 17.9 percent," Garcetti said.

He said models show that California may experience its peak hospitalizations by April 17, this Friday, and we may have a peak in new deaths on April 19, Sunday.

"If we take our foot off the gas now and stop physical distancing, models show that our hospitals could be overloaded by May 12, meaning that there's not enough beds for the number of patients that we would have," he said. 

He said "folks have been asking me 'Can we stop now? What if we went back tomorrow?'"

 He said epidemiologists, including those at the County, say "if we relaxed the physical distancing and Stay at Home orders now, we could see as many as 95 percent of LA County residents contract COVID-19 by August 1. And I don't have to tell you what that would do to our healthcare system and how many people would die because we wouldn't have enough beds." 

He said to continue to stay Safer at Home, practice physical distancing and only go out for essential trips.

"We know the consequences of stepping back too early," he said.

He also offered information on walk-in testing when Angelenos don't have a car. There's one location in Echo Park and another walk-in location that will open in South Los Angeles on Tuesday. 

He said there are 24 testing locations across the city and county and 46,000 people have been tested so far. 

SAFER AT HOME ORDER EXTENDED

Last week, Garcetti announced the city of LA will be extending its Safer at Home order until May 15 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Earlier in the day, the county of Los Angeles announced it extended its Stay at Home order until the same date.

Garcetti said that means that nonessential businesses will remain closed. 

"I want you to hear from me: We won't have one day longer keeping you at home but we won't let you out one day earlier than the public health officials tell us is necessary to save your lives," he said.

"Now is the time not to let up," Garcetti said.

He added people have to keep washing their hands, keep social distancing and put facial coverings on.

Garcetti gave other updates Friday:

- non-medical essential businesses must complete a social distancing protocol plan for their facilities. The document must be posted at or near the business where customers can see it by April 16.

The website is coronavirus.LACity.org/DistancingProtocol

- a program to provide childcare for healthcare workers who'll be able to apply for a stipend of $100 per shift.

FARMERS' MARKETS

Garcetti gave an update on farmers' markets, which had been asked to shut down in the past due to a lack of social distancing and crowds.

He said beaches and trails are still closed -- something that went into effect in March. He recapped how rent would not go up in any rent-stabilized apartments.

He said 31 farmers' markets have submitted plans to reopen again, and 16 farmers' markets will open this weekend. In the past, he said 24 farmers' markets will be open on the days they are supposed to operate after submitting a safe and comprehensive plan for social distancing. In the past, Garcetti temporarily suspended farmers' markets following reports of crowding - until they present plans to ensure social distancing. He also shut down popular Silver Lake Meadow because there were too many crowds.

To check on farmers' markets with approved plans at http://streetsla.lacity.org/covid

RESTAURANT PICK-UP ZONES:

Meanwhile, Garcetti gave an update on testing, saying daily testing stood at  2,100 tests bringing the total number of Angelenos who have been tested to 14,400. He said there are nine locations for testing. Three new sites will be open in LA County, including South Bay Galleria, Pomona and Antelope Valley, Friday. 

He said the Department of Transportation is installing temporary food pick-up parking zones near restaurants with new signage after restaurants apply for a food pick-up zone.

On Wednesday, Garcetti said the Safer at Home order will likely go til May, past the April 19 date.

He also said he directed LADWP to shut off water and power for those nonessential businesses that remain open despite repeated warnings to close.

FREEZING RENT HIKE INCREASES, CONSTRUCTION SITES GUIDELINES:

Garcetti stressed that a decision to stay home may mean one less person who may need a ventilator LA may not have.  

"I'm so proud of Los Angeles and I'm so proud of the example that you are setting, of how you are sharing this love with each other, explaining this crisis to the children and grandchildren and being the leaders that we all of you to be right now," he said. "Stay safe, stay healthy and stay home."

Garcetti also gave an update on testing. He said the city of LA testing program, which opened up a new site, completed 10,027 tests, including 1,623 tests alone on Tuesday.

"By Thursday we will have doubled our capacity and we will administer 13,000 tests just this week alone. Starting tomorrow, we are opening up testing to the entire county and expanding testing at two new sites," the Mayor said. 

To those who don't live in the city of LA, you can go and sign up at https://corona-virus.la/ and sign up to see if you are eligible.

Garcetti also outlined new guidelines and safety protocols when it came to construction sites across the city. 

He said since he's signed the Safer-at-Home directive, the city has heard about some construction sites that are not following those guidelines.

"That's why our city's Department of Building and Safety has developed new guidelines for construction sites to ensure employers and workers are safe and protecting public health and their own health," Garcetti said.

He said the guidelines are posted at www.ladbs.org

The city is now requiring all construction sites to develop a comprehensive COVID-19 exposure control plan including protocols for symptom checking, physical distancing, and hygiene practices and decontamination procedures, according to Garcetti. He said the city inspectors will be sent to construction sites every day to verify compliance with these safety guidelines.

Garcetti suspended rent increases for apartments that are subject to the City’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).

“This is a common sense action to help tenants stay in their homes,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Angelenos who have lost hours or been laid off, or can’t work as a result of a COVID-19 diagnosis, should not face the extra burden of a spike in their rent.”

FOR MORE INFO: https://corona-virus.la/faq