LA County approves $1.2B for coronavirus relief, testing, help for small business

Los Angeles County is adding another $1.2 billion to funds being spent for coronavirus relief services, from help for local businesses to more testing and contact tracing.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Los Angeles County is adding another $1.2 billion to funds being spent for coronavirus relief services, from help for small businesses to more testing and contact tracing.

The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the L.A. County Cares Act, allocating $1.22 billion for services that include COVID-19 testing, housing for the homeless, support for small businesses and protective equipment for county health workers.

About $1 billion of the funds are coming from the federal government, with the rest from the state.

"This funding comes at a critical time for Los Angeles County," said board chair Supervisor Kathryn Barger. "This plan addresses our ability to provide essential services, expand testing, contract tracing and meet tangible needs for working families and small businesses who are struggling and increasing bearing the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The plan includes: $226 million for additional coronavirus testing; $75 million for contact tracing; $43 million for personal protective equipment for county health workers; $148 million for Project Roomkey, which is helping to house the homeless during the crisis; $100 million for the Rent Relief Program; and $160 million to support small businesses

Other details of the program are available here.

The package was approved as Los Angeles and and many counties throughout California experience a surge in COVID-19 cases, with record highs set recently for daily case totals and hospitalizations.

With the growing spread of the virus, health officials are focusing on the places where they believe COVID-19 is spreading the most.

LA County health department data shows that workplaces such as manufacturing, meatpacking plants and grocery stores have become a major driver of the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday, there were 2,401 cases at 207 workplaces - a number that has almost doubled in the last two weeks.

Worker unions held an event Tuesday to draw attention to the need for greater protections at their jobs, and to call for employees to be empowered to monitor their own workplaces.

"The grocery companies are putting us and the public at greater risk by not sharing information about infection rates and locations," said grocery worker Christie Sasaki. "They're not enforcing basic health requirements like mask wearing, crowd control and sanitation."

That's why the LA County Board of Supervisors passed a proposal for health councils to monitor businesses to make sure they're in compliance with public health orders. The third-party organizations will also engage in outreach and educate workers about safety protocols. The essential garment business Los Angeles Apparel had to be shut down after 300 employees contracted COVID-19 and four died.

"Employers are simply not doing what is needed and what is necessary to adhere to public health orders," said Marissa Nuncio, a garment center worker. "Workers need the right therefore to monitor their own workplaces so they can prevent the spread of COVID-19."

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of California Health and Human Services, was asked when we would start seeing a drop in numbers due to the recent adjustments to the state's stay-at-home order.

"We've learned that that two-to-three week period may not be long enough," Ghaly said. "It may take up to three, four or even five weeks to feel the full impact of some of those changes you've seen in the last couple of weeks."
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