Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti (D-CA) announced Sunday that the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak and association shutdown will have a greater negative effect on the city than the Great Recession of 2008.
During a press conference, Garcetti revealed that the city would start cutting programs and has plans to temporarily furlough thousands of city workers. The mayor’s announcement comes as employment in the city as a whole has taken a grim turn, even compared to the national average.
A recent study out of USC suggests that nearly 25.5 million people have already lost jobs in the United States, representing a national drop from 62% adult employment to 52% employment. In Los Angeles, the figure has dropped from 61% adult employment to 45% employment, suggesting that over 1.3 million residents who were previously working have now lost their jobs.
“The only way to save our economy is to save lives, and the only way we can save lives is by clearing a path to safely reopen our economy,” said Garcetti at the press conference, echoing sentiments recently expressed by the governor, who has firmly resisted calls to ease the stay-at-home restrictions.
The mayor has also acknowledged that the city cannot remain locked down indefinitely — tweeting that a stay-at-home order of “six or seven months” would lead to “an even greater economic catastrophe.”
The economic ramifications of the widespread closures have resulted in local officials in nearby San Luis Obispo County pleading with Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) to strike a balance between social distancing policies and economic shutdowns.
“We have asked our residents to take these desperate measures because of the unique risks posed to the broader community by this virus so that we can flatten the curve,” San Luis Obispo County officials told the governor, reports The Los Angeles Times. “Now we need to move to the next phase, which is economic recovery.”
Newsom has agreed to listen to the concerns of the county officials and discuss potential plans of action, but maintains that no local health orders “can go further or, rather, go farther backward than the state guidance.”
The governor has indicated that the stay-at-home orders will not end suddenly, but will rather be modified over time, like a “dimmer” switch, based on six factors including testing capacity and the capability of hospitals to handle patient surges.
The Los Angeles Times reports that there have been 13,823 confirmed cases of coronavirus in L.A. County as of Tuesday afternoon and 619 coronavirus deaths. The county has over 10 million people, and the city has about 4 million people.
That said, the preliminary results of a recent USC antibody study suggest that the coronavirus mortality rate, specifically in Los Angeles, could actually be lower than previously believed, and between 221,000 and 442,00 adults in the county may have already contracted it.
The study was conducted in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, and participants were recruited through a proprietary database with a representative sample of county adults. The findings have not yet been published or peer reviewed, and the sample size is unclear. A press release last week indicated that “roughly 1,000 people every few months” would get tested for the duration of the study.