L.A. Mayor Garcetti reflects on 1 year of city’s coronavirus emergency order

It was a year ago when Angelenos realized everything was about to change, as Los Angeles’ top official issued his first coronavirus emergency order.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti held a news briefing Monday to mark the one-year anniversary since he first issued an emergency order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

“One year ago today, March 15, 2020, I issued an emergency order calling on Angelenos to make enormous changes and great sacrifices to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus,” Garcetti said in a video he posted on Twitter Monday.

Leading up to that day, the virus had already begun to take hold in the city and elsewhere in the United States. The first case of the coronavirus in L.A. County was discovered on Jan. 26, 2020. And since then, more than 1.2 million people in the county have tested positive for the virus, and nearly 22,500 people have died.

But it was this on this day last year when life in L.A. stopped being normal and there were many unknowns.

“Back then we didn’t know the scope of the crisis ahead. We couldn’t have imagined the toll it would take on families, our communities, on ourselves,” Garcetti said. “But we did know, and what I told Angelenos that night, was that life as we knew it was about to change, that a deadly illness was taking hold all around.”

After 365 days, things are beginning to improve and experts are optimistic. 

As of last Wednesday, more than 2.7 million vaccine doses have been administered in L.A. County. Nearly 900,000 residents in the region have already received their second dose of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine.

“One year on, the rays of sunlight are finally starting to break through the clouds,” Garcetti said. “Vaccines are here. We have real reasons to feel hope.”

To honor all the lives lost to the coronavirus in the city, Garcetti said City Hall will be lit up in red.

On Monday, the mayor announced city-run vaccination sites will offer 55,000 first-dose appointments this week, down from 68,000 last week. The same day, the state and L.A. County opened up eligibility for those ages 16 to 64 with underlying health conditions and disabilities. 

Health experts, however, say the pandemic is not yet over and a fourth wave is still possible.

But a year in, Angelenos are finally dining out on a sliver of optimism. L.A. County reopened indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters, and other sectors on Monday after California met its goal last Friday to vaccinate at least 2 residents in the state’s hardest-hit communities. That triggered 13 counties to move from the most restrictive purple tier to the red tier in the state’s four-tier, color-coded system for reopenings, including Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties.

Despite the good news of the reopenings, Garcetti said people should not abandon safety precautions.

“This is a moment to be more careful,” Garcetti said. “We have to do our part to finish this strong. Don’t let all the good things you have done amount to nothing for another family, or another individual who might lose their life because we let things up too quickly.”

Garcetti urged residents to keep wearing face masks, continue practicing social distancing and to get vaccinated when eligible.

“The vaccine will save your life … and it will help end the pandemic,” Garcetti said. “The fewer people who get it, the longer this pandemic will last.“

On Monday, L.A. County reported 422 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases and six new deaths, bringing countywide totals to more than 1.2 million cases and 22,475 deaths.

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