Los Angeles will double its mobile COVID-19 testing teams starting Monday to bolster the local response to cases of the illness at senior living facilities, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday.
“We going to continue focusing on those places that can be death traps,” Garcetti said. “If people have, as we’ve seen across the country, surges of cases among our most vulnerable seniors, we know it can be devastating.”
Along with the county health professionals, the mobile testing teams will be increased from three to six and will be dispatched to senior living facilities if someone shows symptoms of COVID-19.
Garcetti said about 74% of people who have died from the coronavirus in the county have been 65 or older, and about 30% of all deaths have occurred at senior living facilities.
Hygiene stations and testing capacity in Skid Row have been increased, and the mayor said almost 500 homeless people in that neighborhood have been tested for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Garcetti said more than 1,100 prepaid Angeleno Cards have been distributed to families that qualified, with amounts ranging from $700 to $1,500. He said the city has the capacity to distribute 15,000 before the money from the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles runs out.
The application process was held April 14-16. Garcetti initially said more than 455,000 people applied for them, but on Wednesday he said once duplicate applications and those from outside the city were eliminated, about 185,000 true applicants remained.
The cards are funded solely by donations to the privately run Mayor’s Fund, and that fund got a major infusion of cash Thursday. Garcetti said the Consulate General of the State of Qatar in Los Angeles donated $5 million to the fund for the prepaid debit cards, the largest donation to date.
Garcetti also said he signed an ordinance adopted by the City Council Wednesday that further outlaws price gouging during a pandemic on all goods by using comparative prices. That way, a merchant can’t raise the price of a good just because they didn’t sell it prior to the emergency orders prompted by the pandemic.
Price gouging is defined as raising the price of a good more than 10% than it was prior to a state of emergency declaration.
Garcetti said people found guilty of price gouging could face a $1,000 fine or jail time.
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