LOS ANGELES COUNTY, Calif. — Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti today advised the public to wear any kind of protective face covering when going out such as a scarf or other clothing items in an attempt to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
"I know it will look surreal. We're going to have to get used to seeing each other like this," Garcetti said as he put on a black cloth mask during his daily coronavirus briefing.
"To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn't an excuse to suddenly all go out."
Garcetti discouraged the public from buying medical-grade masks, such as the N95 and surgical masks, because first responders and doctors urgently need them.
"We're working with logistics companies and FEMA to secure the (medical) masks and the personal protective equipment they need to serve all of us and protect their lives," Garcetti said.
"When the crisis gets worse, the last thing that we want is for them not to have the life-saving equipment they need to save our lives."
Garcetti said 400 garment and apparel manufacturers have pledged to soon make about 2 million cloth masks per week for essential workers, such as grocery store employees, in an attempt to protect them from the coronavirus.
The manufacturers signed up through LA Protects manufacturing initiative website that Garcetti announced last week, laprotects.org.
Garcetti also said he does not expect the Safer at Home orders to be lifted by April 19, the day they're set to expire. He added that no one within his office has tested positive for COVID-19.
Health officials announced Wednesday an additional 194 Los Angeles residents tested positive for the coronavirus, increasing the total to 1,580, a 14% increase over Tuesday. There are 3,524 cases in Los Angeles County.
Eight businesses defined as "non-essential" while emergency orders are in effect have been referred to the City Attorney's Office for possible prosecution for not shutting down, Garcetti said. The penalty for the violation can be a misdemeanor.
"Slowing the spread of this virus and flattening the curve on new infections demands that we all do our part, yet still some non-essential businesses continue to operate, putting us all at risk," Garcetti said.
"This is serious and we cannot allow violations to continue."
Garcetti also said he has directed the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power to cut off utilities to businesses refusing to comply.
President Donald Trump has acknowledged that the federal stockpile is nearly depleted of personal protective equipment used by doctors and nurses to safeguard themselves from the rapidly spreading coronavirus.
The president says “difficult days are ahead for our nation” and that the nation is “going to have a couple of weeks ... that are going to be horrific.” Meanwhile scientists offered more evidence Wednesday that the coronavirus is spread by seemingly healthy people who show no clear symptoms.
That led the U.S. government to issue new guidance warning that anyone exposed to the disease can be considered a potential carrier.
President Trump is resisting calls to issue a national stay-at-home order to stem the spread of the new coronavirus. This is despite his administration's projections that tens of thousands of Americans are likely to be killed by the disease.
One by one, though, states are increasingly pushing shutdown orders of their own. On Wednesday alone, three more states — Florida, Nevada, and Pennsylvania — added or expanded their stay-at-home orders.
The resistance to a more robust federal response comes even as Vice President Mike Pence says White House models for the coronavirus toll show the country on a trajectory akin to hard-hit Italy.