LA Board of Supervisors chair Barger talks about when county could loosen stay-home restrictions

Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chair Kathryn Barger spoke to Eyewitness Newsmakers about when the county might be able to loosen stay-at-home restrictions.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Eyewitness Newsmakers explored the pressing question of a timetable for reopening Los Angeles as the COVID-19 pandemic curve flattens.

The chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Kathryn Barger, was the program guest. She talked about a phased-in reopening contingent on testing and cases.

"The more testing we get up and running, the better equipped we are going to be to see if May 15 is a time we can begin to do soft opening, both for our economy and for individuals that are wanting to go on hiking trails, golf courses," Barger said.

If testing shows the curve flattening for new infections, it is the first step to start easing restrictions.

This week, the county announced same-day COVID-19 free tests are available to all residents showing symptoms of the disease. Results will help determine when L.A. can reopen. There are still not enough tests to give them to everyone including those who may be asymptomatic.

Supervisor Barger said county health will examine the two weeks leading up to May 15 and will err on the side of caution whether to open.

"We try to do what's right, not only for the community but for the businesses out there that are really anxious to get back to work. And so May 15 is the date. I'm hoping it doesn't go beyond May 15."

Barger said it is too soon to set a date to reopen sports venues. She acknowledged competing opinions from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti who would wait until next year to bring back crowds, and Inglewood Mayor James Butts who wants it sooner at SoFi Stadium in his city.

"I know that the mayor announced he didn't feel venues could be reopened till 2021," Barger said. "The mayor of Inglewood does not necessarily agree with that. I think it's too soon to tell as it relates to the venues. I know in sporting they're looking at having the players play without sports spectators."

The supervisor addressed COVID-19 cases in the homeless community and in encampments where there is little physical distancing.

"It is in the homeless community, especially, it's truly a silent killer. People are walking around not even realizing they're symptomatic and they're congregating. I drove around Skid Row earlier this week, and people are congregating side-by-side in areas." Barger concluded. "To me it indicates that truly we need to do a better job of getting out there and aggressively educating people about social distancing."
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