Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Monday that coronavirus testing will expand to include asymptomatic people who work in transportation services, including delivery, rideshare and taxi drivers, and to those who work in media.
The testing will be available starting Tuesday, and people can sign up for an appointment online.
Previously, testing in L.A. County was available to anyone with COVID-19 symptoms, as well as some asymptomatic essential workers — such as those in health care — and those living or working at nursing homes. As testing is expanded, it will be made available to more asymptomatic essential workers in varying industries, the mayor said.
After reaching its goal of signing up 12,000 seniors, the mayor announced the second phase of the city’s Senior Meal Emergency Response program, now with access to funding from the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The program will provide more free meals to seniors and will employ workers in the hospitality and restaurant industries who have been laid-off during the crisis.
“This is a win, win, win,” the mayor said.
Starting Tuesday, those over the age of 65, as well as those between ages 60 to 64 with pre-existing medical conditions, can call 213-263-5226 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. or visit the city’s site to enroll in free meal deliveries. Restaurants that want to participate can also call the hotline.
To qualify for meals, seniors can have an income of no more than $74,940 for an individual or $101,460 for two. That is 600% of the federal poverty level.
In his briefing Monday, the mayor was asked about the possibility of resuming sporting events and concerts later this year. He said that will be determined based on need, risk and safety.
“Nothing is off the table. We just have to be smart and look at those three things,” he said.
As long as people can design the spaces in a safe way, officials will look at plans “with a very open mind,” Garcetti said, adding that such events will likely be without audiences.
Prior to the weekend, the mayor urged Angelenos to stay home amid a heat wave, reminding residents that all city and county beaches, trails and recreation facilities were closed. Per his order, L.A. beaches appeared to remain empty throughout the weekend, while thousands gathered at neighboring Orange and Ventura county beaches.
Garcetti said Monday that he’s “awed” by everyone who continued to stay home throughout the weekend heat wave.
L.A. county is the largest COVID-19 hotspot in the state, with over 19,500 people testing positive for the virus. There are now 34 testing sites throughout the county, with a capacity to test 16,500 people each day, the mayor said.
The county reported 900 new cases Monday, and city reported another 493.
However, the most recent numbers “suggest the curve really is beginning to flatten,” Garcetti said.
On Friday, the county released its requirements for relaxing stay-at-home orders, which include increasing capacity in the health care system; ensuring protections for people at risk; increasing capability to test, isolate and trace the virus; and maintaining physical distancing.
Also on Friday, a group of small businesses filed a lawsuit against dozens of state and local officials, including Mayor Garcetti, arguing that they should be allowed to reopen as long as they maintain social distancing guidelines.
The mayor has been holding a remote briefing every weekday at 5:15 p.m. via Facebook Live.