L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti Says of Stay-at-Home Order: "We Have to Take Steps Early"

Eric Garcetti  - Getty - H 2020
ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

"The longer that you wait, the worse it's going to be. By the time you react, it's going to be really overwhelming."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared on ABC's Good Morning America Friday to discuss the unprecedented "Safer at Home" Emergency Order that went into effect for Los Angeles, as well as the entire state of California, after midnight in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

"I think we all fantasize that our city, our state, our country, has a protective moat. If we can just keep those people out, if we can somehow have a bubble around us, it's not coming," said Garcetti. "But the history is clear and this disease is clear: we have to take steps early. None of us have the adequate infrastructure for this and our best shot is to push this out. And these are acts of love for the people and precious lives we want to protect."

The order demands that residents statewide stay inside their homes and limit all movement beyond what is necessary to take care of essential needs. Residents are allowed to go to the grocery store, pick up medications and healthcare necessities at the pharmacy, take pets to veterinarian, attend medical appointments and exercise outside while practicing social distancing. They can only go to work if providing essential services.

Garcetti said city workers will help to enforce the new guidelines, but he also called on residents to speak up and inform any businesses or people who don't get the message as the city grows accustomed to "this new life that we will live with for a period of time."

The mayor said "some cities are a day or two off" of seeing hospital supply shortages. "It's just a matter of time."

He then called on governors around the country to follow California's lead.

"Every governor, every person you are out there — doesn't matter who you are, where you are, what political party — these things we saw in 1918. The cities that acted quickly were able to protect more people and those that didn't were devastated with the Spanish flu. You look around the world right now, it's the same thing," he said. "The longer that you wait, the worse it's going to be. By the time you react, it's going to be really overwhelming."

When announcing the order, California Gov. Gavin Newsom estimated that 30 percent — and as high as 70 percent — of Californians may contract the virus. Saying the state is well-versed in pandemic preparation, the governor said there are 416 hospitals in the state of California and the capacity to provide care beyond the hospital system.

There are currently 1,001 confirmed coronavirus cases in California, resulting in 19 deaths.

When speaking Friday morning on NBC's Today show, Garcetti said the effects from the order will take about 10 days to materialize. "The order was for a month and my expectation is that it could be twice as long," he said, citing China's two-month stay-at-home order. "I think that's the only way you flatten that curve."

He then explained why phrasing like "lockdown" and "shelter in place" are inaccurate terms: "They are about police shootings and schools and other things. This is something in which there's a lot you still can do and are encouraged to do. Go out. Keep six feet away, but exercise. Go to a park, even if we have the playground equipment closed. Go for a hike. And there are a lot of critical industries — not just for Los Angeles, but we know in Los Angeles as a manufacturing and trade center, we got to get you the goods, and the rest of America, to save this country amid this pandemic."

Garcetti also cited Newsom's prediction — that 56 percent of the state of California could have the coronavirus within eight weeks — as the reasoning behind the tougher measures.