Federal government advises Garcetti of coronavirus home stay orders


The Trump administration sent a warning letter to Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti on Friday saying the Department of Justice was concerned that the city would pursue “an arbitrary and clumsy approach” to house arrest orders.

Eric S. Dreiband, deputy attorney general of the department’s Civil Rights Division, highlighted what he said were public comments from Garcetti and Barbara Ferrer, director of public health for Los Angeles County.

“Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you have suggested the possibility of a long-term foreclosure for residents of the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for these restrictions,” Dreiband wrote. “Such an approach can be both arbitrary and illegal. “

The letter was also addressed to Ferrer.

Garcetti defended the city’s approach to the health crisis on Friday during a press conference on criticism from the Justice Department. “We were able to do this and save lives,” he said, adding that the city has worked with businesses, employees and task forces on the region’s response.

“Together with science, numbers will always guide us forward,” said Garcetti. ” There is nothing else. There are no games, nothing else is happening. “

The mayor issued a home stay order for Los Angeles in March, extending it twice. But he said the restrictions would be relaxed in the coming weeks.

In the past month, beaches, golf courses, tennis courts and hiking trails have reopened, and retail stores now allow curbside pickup.

Ferrer said this month at a public meeting that home stay orders will be “with certainty” extended for the next few months, which has led some to believe that the status quo will remain in place over the summer. .

His comment drew wide attention and Garcetti appeared in television news later in the day, seeking to clarify the region’s response to the health crisis.

He also released a statement that day that “although the city’s Safer at Home order will remain in effect beyond May 15, we will also continue to adjust the order gradually – to safely allow more activities, more companies to operate and more Angelenos to return to work. “

In response to Friday’s letter, Los Angeles County public health department spokesperson Bernard Tolliver said that “the quote was taken out of context” but was not crafted. Health regulations are being changed “regularly to support the reopening of areas and to ease restrictions,” said Tolliver.

The letter to Garcetti arrived the same day that White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx identified Los Angeles as one of three regions where persistent spread remains a major concern.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Birx said the metropolitan area of ​​Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C., remains a concern.

Birx asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to work with these regions “to really understand where these new cases are coming from and what we need to do to prevent them in the future.”

Garcetti, when asked about Birx’s comments on Friday, said the Los Angeles area was “far from the top of infection rates, cases and deaths.”

Many in the Los Angeles area have followed home stay orders in recent months, which political leaders attribute to the slowing spread of the virus.

Some protesters calling for an end to the order and a full reopening of the economy demonstrated outside Los Angeles City Hall and the Getty House, the mayor’s official residence, during the pandemic.

Similar protests took place in Orange County.

The Times author Soumya Karlamangla contributed to this report.


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