Mayor Garcetti: We're only in '2nd inning' of COVID-19 fight, expects battle to last through mid-2021

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is preparing for COVID-19 to impact us until spring or summer of 2021.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- For more than four months, Californians have endured the fallout of COVID-19, and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is planning for the long haul.

"I talked to a doctor last week who said if this was a baseball game, we're in the bottom of the 2nd (inning)," Garcetti said in an interview with Eyewitness News. "And that hit me like a punch to the stomach. I think we were sold a bill of goods that people said, 'Oh, we're going to get a vaccine soon. We're going to get through this quickly.'"

Garcetti is preparing for COVID-19 to impact us until spring or summer of 2021.

While some might find this grim outlook debilitating, he says it's allowing the city to plan for the future, such as getting children back to school as safely and quickly as possible.

LA Mayor Garcetti: 'We are not closing any additional businesses or activities' as COVID-19 threat level remains at orange
EMBED More News Videos

Mayor Eric Garcetti says Los Angeles remains at the city's COVID-19 threat level orange, which means people should continue to take precautions and minimize contact with others as much as possible.

"Our goal has to be 14 days off that watch list. If we get there together that's when the state says we can then open schools up, and that's going to be so critical for our young people," Garcetti said.

Los Angeles Unified School District and United Teachers Los Angeles, the second largest teachers union in the country, is currently at odds about safety conditions for teachers in the classroom. They've yet to reach an agreement on how to teach students this fall.

RELATED: Coronavirus watch list: California counties where COVID-19 is getting worse

Garcetti says he's gathering mayors from the West Coast to look at using cheaper, faster and daily testing in schools.

RELATED: Here's why LA County is seeing an increase in COVID cases, but a decline in deaths
EMBED More News Videos

Data from the LA County Department of Public Health shows an increase in coronavirus cases, but a decrease in daily deaths. Why? Well, the answer is complicated. Community journalist Sophie Flay spoke with Dr. Michael Daignault to help break it down.

"It's still a couple of months off maybe, but if we can be the first place in the country, maybe even in the world to do that, I think we should at least try that and see if there's quicker turnaround with cheaper tests using different technologies," Garcetti said. "So, we're well into that and any help that we can offer the school district, we're here."

For the immediate future, Garcetti's biggest worry is for the 830,000 Angelenos whose unemployment aid from the CARES Act expires this week. Congress has yet to agree on a second aid package.

"No local community has enough money to pick up the pieces. But here in California we're looking at how can we stretch out unemployment benefits," Garcetti said. "This is really Washington's responsibility... If they don't step up we'll do everything we can, but it's pretty dangerous."

CA may create $600 weekly unemployment benefit as enhanced federal aid set to expire
EMBED More News Videos

California lawmakers may offer relief for recipients of unemployment benefits as the $600 weekly federal aid is set to expire July 31.

Copyright © 2021 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.