Los Angeles mayor urges everyone to wear masks

Virus_Outbreak_California_82139 A man wears a bandana as he rides with his Chiuhuaha dog on Sunset Blvd., in Los Angeles Tuesday, March 31, 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom says California's extraordinary efforts to keep people home have bought the time needed to prepare for an expected peak surge of coronavirus cases in coming weeks. A spike of new cases has not come as quickly as expected. However, Newson was reluctant to say Tuesday whether ultimately that means the impact won't be nearly as dire as first predicted. He said people can't let down their guards and need to continue to stay home.
Virus_Outbreak_California_97257 A protester flashes a peace sign during a car-based protest outside the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. Demonstrators across California coordinated efforts in a car-based protest to demand the release of immigrants in California detention centers over concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virus_Outbreak_California_30453 Sevag Demirjian, a supporter of President Trump, waves an American flag at passing demonstrators during a protest outside of the Edward R. Roybal Federal building Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. Demonstrators across California coordinated efforts in a car-based protest to demand the release of immigrants in California detention centers over concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
Virus_Outbreak_California_93915 Sugin Quang donates at a blood drive hosted by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library to help meet the urgent demand for donations amid the Coronavirus outbreak across the United States in Yorba Linda, Calif., Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Virus_Outbreak_California_27193 Sugin Quang donates at a blood drive hosted by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library to help meet the urgent demand for donations amid the Coronavirus outbreak across the United States in Yorba Linda, Calif., Tuesday, March 31, 2020.
Virus_Outbreak_California_38960 A few people use Grand Park at the foot of Los Angeles City Hall, Tuesday, March 31, 2020, in Los Angeles. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Virus_Outbreak_California_72681 Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services, gestures to a chart showing the impact of the mandatory stay-at-home orders during a news conference on the state's response to the coronavirus, at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif. in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year, but provide off-site education due to coronavirus pandemic.
Virus_Outbreak_California_66454 Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California schools will likely remain closed for the rest of the school year due to the coronavirus,, but provide off-site education, during a news conference at the Governor's Office of Emergency Services in Rancho Cordova, Calif., Wednesday, April 1, 2020. The state is not mandating that schools remain closed through the summer break but offering guidance and recommendations on distance learning for schools.
Virus_Outbreak_California_70604 Lt. Col Shane Patty, right, gestures while speaking to Captain Torrance Pineau-Brown at a possible COVID-19 treatment site Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in San Mateo, Calif. The National Guard is currently setting up the federal cache, which includes cots and personal protective equipment needed to establish a federal medical station with capacity up to 250 beds. No patients will be immediately housed in the space but proactively standing it up now allows the County to be ready if and when hospitals need more medical spaces. Both men are from the 146th Airlift Wing, a unit of the California Air National Guard, stationed at Channel Islands Air National Guard Station, Oxnard, California.
Virus_Outbreak_California_31875 Cots are set up at a possible COVID-19 treatment site Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in San Mateo, Calif. The National Guard is currently setting up the federal cache, which includes cots and personal protective equipment needed to establish a federal medical station with capacity up to 250 beds. No patients will be immediately housed in the space but proactively standing it up now allows the County to be ready if and when hospitals need more medical spaces.
Virus_Outbreak_California_74403 Cots are set up at a possible COVID-19 coronavirus treatment site Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in San Mateo, Calif. The National Guard is currently setting up the federal cache, which includes cots and personal protective equipment needed to establish a federal medical station with capacity up to 250 beds. No patients will be immediately housed in the space but proactively standing it up now allows the County to be ready if and when hospitals need more medical spaces.
Virus_Outbreak_California_75619 A couple walks past an electronic sign showing school closure at Granada Hills Charter High School, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Granada Hills section of Los Angeles. The new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people, but for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.
Virus_Outbreak_California_12871 This March 27, 2020 photo provided by the California Army National Guard shows Sgt. Jose A. Magana, left, and Pfc. Michael Daggi of the California National Guard's Medical Detachment instructing California Emergency Medical Service Authority (EMSA) staff members on properly removing personal protective equipment at a San Mateo County COVID-19 treatment facility in Burlingame, Calif. Cal Guard's medical teams are actively assisting local and state agencies contain the coronavirus epidemic. This treatment facility houses patients who tested positive for COVID-19. )
Virus_Outbreak_California_54694 A sign is seen warning hikers about social distancing due to the new coronavirus as a couple walks on Hummingbird Trail, Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in Simi Valley, Calif.
Virus_Outbreak_California_20520 San Mateo County manager Mike Callagy stands beside cots in a possible COVID-19 treatment site Wednesday, April 1, 2020, in San Mateo, Calif. The National Guard is currently setting up the federal cache, which includes cots and personal protective equipment needed to establish a federal medical station with capacity up to 250 beds. No patients will be immediately housed in the space but proactively standing it up now allows the County to be ready if and when hospitals need more medical spaces.
Virus_Outbreak_California_76434 FILE - In this May 16, 2011 file photo a volunteer, right, serves meals at the Union Rescue Mission in Los Angeles in Los Angeles' Skid Row. This week the mission reported a staff member was hospitalized with COVID-19, several others were sent to a quarantine facility set up at a beach RV park and dozens of men were in quarantine on the mission's third floor, which houses a rehabilitation program.
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mayor of Los Angeles on Wednesday told everyone in the nation’s second-largest city to start wearing masks to combat the coronavirus, but California’s governor isn’t ready to take that idea statewide.

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday he’s focused instead on keeping people inside. He also announced the state may need 66,000 additional hospital beds, 16,000 more than previously forecast, to handle the crush of illnesses expected during the second part of May.

At an afternoon news conference, Mayor Eric Garcetti said he had been awaiting advice from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on mask-wearing but with the COVID-19 rate surging had decided to wait no longer.

The mayor said all 4 million residents who are performing essential tasks such as food shopping should wear homemade, non-medical face coverings, or even bandannas, as people in other COVID-19-struck countries have done.

“To be clear, you should still stay at home. This isn’t an excuse to suddenly all go out,” Garcetti said.

He also said people shouldn’t use medical-grade masks, which are in short supply and are needed by health care workers and first responders.

The mayor said even a “tucked-in bandanna” could slow the spread of the virus and the masks also are good for reminding people to keep their distance.

“I know it will look surreal,” he said, donning a mask. “We’re going to have to get used to seeing each other like this … This will be the look.”

Los Angeles County reported more than 500 new cases on Wednesday, a 17% hike over the previous day.

Garcetti’s announcement came after Riverside County public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser urged that people who need to go out in public should use something — even bandanas or neck warmers — to cover their mouths and noses to protect others and themselves.

The governor had been expected to release guidelines for masks, but at his own news conference Newsom said he did not think they should be a substitute for keeping a safe distance from other people and taking additional measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

“They are not a substitute for a stay-at-home order. They are not a call to get folks to find N95 masks or surgical masks and pull them away or compete against our first responders,” Newsom said.

Newsom focused instead on adding thousands more hospital beds than previously stated. He now projects needing 66,000 more hospital beds for the anticipated peak of cases in late May — 16,000 more than his prior projections.

In Riverside County, Kaiser said the virus is transmitted in droplets that can be spread through coughs or sneezes, so some type of covering could help even if it’s not a hospital-grade mask.

Kaiser issued the recommendation because the state’s fourth-largest county was seeing infections rise faster than predicted. At the current rate, he said Wednesday that it would run out of hospital beds April 12 and ventilators by April 26.

“When the situation changes, the rule book changes,” Kaiser said in a news release. “We’re seeing our numbers increasing even sooner than we predicted, and that means our strategy must change too.”

U.S. and global health authorities have said people who are not health care workers shouldn’t wear a mask unless they’re sick — to prevent infecting others.

The World Health Organization recommended people caring for a sick relative wear a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed — as long as the person who was ill was not able to wear a mask.

But there has been some conflicting direction. Austria said this week it would require masks for grocery shoppers. President Donald Trump suggested people who are worried should wear a scarf.

California’s public health officer, Dr. Sonia Angell, said face coverings could prevent the spread of the virus, but if worn incorrectly or handled improperly could lead to infection. They could also lead people to let down their guard and not stay the recommended distance of 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from others.

“When we speak about the potential downfalls, which we also must acknowledge, they can be that if people have these masks on, they feel somewhat immune, they feel like they can get closer to other people,” Angell said.

The spread of the virus statewide has, so far, been slow enough to give the state time to prepare for an expected spike in cases that could overwhelm hospitals if extreme measures aren’t taken to keep most people home and away from others.

The state had nearly 10,000 virus cases and 215 deaths reported Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is keeping a global tally.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Newsom has been talking in the past week about increasing hospital beds in the state by two-thirds to add 50,000 new beds at locations that could include convention centers and arenas to cope with peak demand next month. On Wednesday, he increased that number.

“Modeling shows we’ll need roughly 66,000 beds towards the end of May,” Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said at a news conference with the governor.

Newsom had bad news for parents Wednesday when he said schools should plan to teach from afar for the rest of the academic year.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond provided similar guidance to districts Tuesday evening. The decision on whether students will return to the classroom will ultimately be up to school districts.

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Associated Press writers Kathleen Ronayne in Sacramento and Christopher Weber in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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