In the last month, Los Angeles County has seen the number of COVID-19 cases increase by more than 400,000. One in five Angelenos are testing positive for coronavirus, and a recent report from Los Angeles County Health Services estimates that one in three Angelenos has been infected with Covid-19. This week the Countywide number of cases surpassed 1 million since the beginning of the pandemic and a Los Angeles resident is dying from COVID-19 every 10 minutes.
We know that the best prevention is strict compliance with health guidelines which include avoiding crowds, social distancing, wearing face-covering whenever one is in the company of anyone outside their household, and sanitizing or washing hands regularly. Unfortunately, too many individuals willfully continue to refuse to wear masks, thereby perpetuating the growing spread of COVID-19.
In fact, in an Op-Ed that was published this week in CityWatch, which I co-authored with infectious disease expert Francine Hamberg, M.D. (and contributions by Mark Morocco, M.D.), Los Angeles COVID Crisis Enforce Mask and Social Distancing Mandates, Now, we emphatically pointed out, “Widespread non-compliance is driving this unimaginable spread and there is no sign of slowing anytime soon. People who are alive and well right now, today, have a disastrously high risk of becoming infected – or dying – by Valentine’s Day.”
So, I was pleased that the Los Angeles City Council voted to support my motion to direct city employees to issue tickets via the Administrative Citation Enforcement (ACE) program to any person not wearing a mask in public. City employees who can fine violators under the ACE program includes park rangers, animal services workers, LAPD, building and safety inspectors, and street service employees. For example, basketball players spotted in a city park by Recreation and Parks employees may now expect to receive a $250 ticket for a first offense. Building inspectors may issue tickets at their discretion to construction workers or to staff in restaurants during the course of their normal rounds when they witness non-compliance.
To make sure that these enforcement protocols are being implemented widely and on-track, my motion also requested a report back within 30 days on the number of citations that have been issued, the rate of compliance, and any ongoing challenges.
Finally, COVID-19 has had a major impact on transit workers. These are the frontline workers that have kept Los Angeles running, and it is incumbent upon us to keep them safe by all means necessary. I have also been especially concerned about the spread among transit riders which is why I introduced a motion instructing the Department of Transportation to report back on the percentage of DASH operators and staff impacted by COVID-19, any ongoing or forecasted disruptions to service, measures to reduce virus transmission and mitigate service disruptions as well as best practices at other transportation agencies such as additional safeguards, protocols, technologies and enforcement mechanisms that could be employed to ensure riders are commuting safely.
The harrowing loss and profound disruption that COVID-19 has caused to our city has been tragic. While it appears better days lie ahead, we still hold our individual and collective health - and fates - in our own hands until there is solid evidence that the pandemic is coming under control. Please, everyone, don’t be a statistic. Do your part to take care of yourselves, your families, your loved ones, and your co-workers so we can recover the lives we enjoyed just a year ago.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In the News
US News - Los Angeles Leaders Seek to Toughen Mask Enforcement City News - Motion to Stop Restaurants Automatically Giving Plastic Utensils
Spectrum - LA Councilmembers Introduce Resolution to Support Trump’s Impeachment
City Council Leaders Call for the Impeachment of President Trump Following the Attempted Coup of the US Capitol
This week Los Angeles City Councilmembers introduced a resolution supporting the decision by Congressional Democrats to file an impeachment resolution charging President Trump with inciting an insurrection. Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson, Paul Koretz, and Mitch O'Farrell joined Council President Nury Martinez to introduce the resolution urging Democrat and Republican leaders to impeach the president for efforts to subvert and obstruct the certification of the results of the 2020 Presidential election.
"President Trump calling upon his misguided followers made up of white supremacists, anti-Semites, and racists to overthrow the government is a clear act of sedition seeking to topple our great democracy. It portrays the deteriorating mental state of a madman, not a President of the United States sworn to uphold the Constitution," said Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz of the Fifth District. "Trump presents a clear and present danger to our democracy and needs to be removed from office immediately to prevent him from committing any further damage."
According to the Article of Impeachment introduced against the president, “Donald John Trump engaged in high Crimes and Misdemeanors by inciting violence against the Government of the United States.” During an address to his supporters on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, President Trump willfully made statements that, in context, encouraged — and foreseeably resulted in — lawless action at the Capitol, such as: “if you don't fight like hell you're not going to have a country anymore."
Out of an abundance of caution, the Council President has made the decision to cancel the council meeting and all committee meetings scheduled for Wednesday, January 20, 2021, and Los Angeles City Hall will be closed to employees and the public, as well.
Councilmembers Introduce Legislation to Require Restaurants Provide Utensils and Food Accessories for Pick-Up and Delivery Only Upon Request
This week, City Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian introduced legislation to require that all those plastic utensils, napkins, and salt packets from our favorite restaurants become available only on demand, thereby removing a financial burden to restaurants.
Most restaurants currently include plastic utensils, straws, and condiments with each order, when customers often already have their own at home where they eat. The COVID-19 pandemic, which has seen an enormous increase in food delivery and takeout, has simultaneously seen the amount of single-use utensils and accessory items wasted skyrocket by 250 – 300%, according to an estimate by the International Waste Association.
“Knowing that fossil fuels go into producing each fork and knife and that trees are used to produce napkins makes me crazy when I just have to end up throwing them away,” said Councilmember Paul Koretz. “Many delivery apps or websites already have a check box to opt-in if you want plastic utensils and napkins. We think they all should do it, saving the restaurants some money, and the rest of us from having to deal with all the waste. An opt-in is a WIN-WIN for all.”
The motion will next be heard in the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice & River Committee at which time the public can provide written or oral testimony relative to this motion.
Some groups in Los Angeles County are already being vaccinated. These groups include staff who work in acute care hospitals, residents and staff at Skilled Nursing Facilities, and emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
That said, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have been shown to be safe and very effective in preventing COVID-19 cases 95% of the time in large studies that involved a diverse mix of people. While the vaccine stops people from getting sick, however, it is not yet clear if it stops them from spreading COVID-19 to other people, nor is it yet known for how long they will be immune. So, everyone must still wear a face covering, physically distance, and not gather.
Mayor Garcetti and City Officials would like you to know that while doses are highly limited right now, more Angelenos will soon become eligible based on job and health risk.
- ELIGIBLE NOW: As of today, healthcare workers and residents, and staff of skilled nursing facilities can get vaccinated in L.A. County.
- UP NEXT: People 65 and older are next in line. L.A. County will move to this group once enough doses are delivered by the State –– likely in early February. See what phase you'll be in here.
- VACCINATION SITES: More than 75 locations are currently vaccinating people in L.A. County –– including one of the nation’s largest vaccination sites at Dodger Stadium. Next week, five new community sites will open across the county. Every week, more doses will be available and more sites and providers will administer them. When your turn arrives, you’ll need to make an appointment and bring your ID to the site.
- COVID SURVIVORS: Medical advice suggests that those who’ve recently overcome being infected should wait for about 90 days after recovery or emerging from quarantine before being vaccinated. Unfortunately, this applies to more and more Angelenos as a result of the recent surge.
- STAYING INFORMED: The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being offered in L.A. County require two doses. Learn when you are eligible to be vaccinated by signing up for email updates from the L.A. County Department of Public Health. When your turn comes, sign up for an appointment. Please visit our vaccine FAQ.
The vaccine is our best tool to get COVID-19 under control, get our lives back on track, and get relief to every Angeleno who is struggling.
Defeating this virus will take time, resilience, and resolve. It will take all of us in a unified effort to conquer this menace. So when you become eligible, roll up your sleeve and get vaccinated –– it’s our best shot.
WARNING: VACCINE SCAMS ON THE RISE
As usually happens during a crisis, misinformation circulates and scammers are at work trying to cheat people out of their money. Please remember that the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed in Los Angeles County in a fair and transparent way.
Common Red Flags:
- Someone offers to move you into an earlier group to get the vaccine for a fee.
- Someone tries to sell you a place on a COVID vaccine waiting list. There is no “vaccine waiting list”.
- Someone on the street, online, on social media, or knocking on your door tries to sell you a shot of vaccine.
For more information, please visit: http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/.../COVIDVaccineScams.pdf
Please click here for frequently Asked Questions where you can also sign up for alerts and updates.
Please click here for the phases and tiers of vaccine distribution.
Please click here for an easy, color-coded way to track distribution in the County
FROM THE DESK OF GREGORY MARTAYAN
DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY
As a result of living in difficult times, many of our family and friends have temporarily closed the doors to their businesses or institutions and are waiting out the storm of the virus. That being said, it doesn’t mean that criminals are staying home - they are as active as they have ever been.
If and when you discover a break-in, don’t assume that just replacing the door or bolt is enough. If that’s all you do, in my experience, there is a possible likelihood that the criminal element will be back. Once they identify a target with vulnerabilities, either they or others they speak to about their “heist” will return.
However, there are simple fixes, or as I like to refer to them, “Home Depot” solutions-all with the objective of hopefully discouraging the would-be intruder from making any future attempts on your property.
Criminals are keenly aware of their surroundings, as such it is the property owners responsibility after a break in to change something that would be noticeably different to a returning criminal. These may include motion detecting lights, cameras, new universal signage around the property, and other easy additions.
If you look at the aforementioned list of potential remedies and believe these are too costly, rest assured they are not. With new technologies that provide for solar-powered cameras and lights, customized signage that is readily available online, automated interior light timers, and new bolt locking systems that are stronger than those of years past, it’s never been easier or cheaper to install some of these minor upgrades on your property.
Many years ago, the average camera system would have cost thousands of dollars for hardwiring, installation, and an upcharge to connect you via the internet. Now, two cameras with solar panels and motion sensor lights cost, at most, around three hundred dollars.
Be proactive in your crime prevention measures, before the criminals re-target your location. Let’s make being reactive a thing of the past, and start being preventative instead.
Encino Residents - Mulholland Drive Cleanup - Sunday, January 17
This Sunday, January 17, is the third Sunday of the month and time for the monthly cleanup organized by Encino resident Robert Newman. Volunteers are invited to help clean up litter along Mulholland Drive from the Bel Air Presbyterian Church east towards the 405. Volunteers will meet from 9:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at 16221 Mulholland Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049 (at the far east end of the parking lot across from the Church) and should bring a face mask and gloves. Trash bags, grabbers, and safety vests will be provided. For the safety and wellness of everyone please RSVP ahead of time by emailing Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org. There will also be future opportunities as the group gathers at least once a month to clean the entire stretch of Mulholland Drive from the 405 to Encino Hills Drive. Thank you to Robert and all the volunteers who help make CD 5 a vibrant community.
2021 Neighborhood Council Elections
Get involved in your neighborhood council. LA’s 99 Neighborhood Councils are the grassroots arm of the City of Los Angeles government. Board members serve their terms in office as volunteers and are elected by members of the communities they serve.
On Saturday, January 30, 2021, join EmpowerLA and City Clerk staff at a free workshop to help candidates navigate the registration process and learn how to run a successful campaign. For registration information visit here.
Learn About LADWP’s Charge Up LA Rebate Programe!
Do you want to do more to address the climate crisis, but don’t know how? Since transportation accounts for about 39% of greenhouse gases in California, if you’re going to drive, consider driving an electric vehicle (EV). EVs are part of LA’s Green New Deal, and federal, state and local governments are providing incentives that can save you thousands of dollars and make EVs much less expensive than their conventional counterparts. There are incentives and programs to help you charge your EV. You can learn more about all these incentives here and here.
LA Animal Service Updates and Events
Due to COVID-19 and the City’s Stay-At-Home Order, LA Animal Service Administrative Offices are temporarily closed to the public. For general assistance, please call 888-452-7381. However, Animal Services Centers are open by appointment only, so you can still foster and adopt a pet. For more information, please visit laanimalservices.com/adopt/.
Double your donation to the Spay and Neuter Trust Fund
An anonymous donor has pledged $25,000 in matching funds to the LA Animal Services' Spay and Neuter Trust Fund. Please donate today and this donor will match your donation! This grant will help keep Spay and Neuter mobile clinics on the road to provide spay and neuter surgeries to pets in their communities. Please donate to the Spay and Neuter Trust Fund today by visiting laanimalservices.com/donate.
Online Rabbit Roundtable
On Wednesday, January 20th at 5 p.m., join LA Animal Services’ staff and volunteers for a Rabbit Roundtable session via Zoom, where rabbit families can ask questions and get advice.
To sign up, please visit the calendar on the Animal Services website and click on the event for Rabbit Roundtable, and sign up using the form in the description.