Coronavirus: LA mayor says next 2 weeks are crucial or what's happening in Italy 'will happen here'

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is reminding people to be prepared and not to panic as the number of local novel coronavirus cases continues to rise.

Garcetti told Eyewitness News that these next two weeks is a critical time that can make all the difference in how the health crisis unfolds across Southern California.

"What we're seeing in Italy and Spain will happen here if we don't practice what we've been saying for about two weeks. Practice that social distancing, stay home if you're sick," he said.

Both of those countries have either issued or are planning to implement sweeping lockdowns and restrictions for its residents to fight the sharp rise in coronavirus infections.

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Garcetti says Los Angeles could very well be placed on lockdown if certain precautions aren't taken, such as shutting down schools for two or more weeks.

"Anybody second guessing the closures - it's precisely when it feels wrong, that it's the right time to close things," he said. "Look at Italy. That was the wrong time, when it felt right. You have to do these early. That's the best way to flatten this curve out and make sure fewer people get sick."

Even if it means missing out on church this weekend.

"Archbishop gave three weeks off for mass. My rabbi cancelled face-to-face congregation coming together for any Shabbat or anything. This is a time when you should absolutely be talking to God, but do it privately," Garcetti said.

On Friday, Garcetti met with all the major hospitals and health care systems to make sure the city is doing everything it can to help them be prepared, should the situation worsen. The city is also making sure necessities are readily available.

"We've been meeting with the Grocers Association - there's plenty of food. We don't have to run to all the shelves and clean them out. Be aware of fraud, fake robo-calls, texts. Check all official information on official websites and don't believe all the rumors that are out there."

However, his main message right now is to be good to each other, urging people to step up and help each other.

"This is not a fight with each other to get that last roll of toilet paper at the grocery store. This is a moment when we can show the best angels in ourselves," he added.

He's also putting the pressure on the U.S. Senate to vote on the economic relief package that the House approved early Saturday morning, which would help with unemployment benefits, food stamps, and paid sick leave.
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