(CNN)Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Wednesday large gatherings like sporting events or concerts may not resume in the city before 2021 as the US grapples with mitigating the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Los Angeles mayor says large gatherings like concerts and sporting events may not come back until 2021
“It’s difficult to imagine us getting together in the thousands anytime soon, so I think we should be prepared for that this year,” Garcetti told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room.”
“I think we all have never wanted science to work so quickly,” he continued. “But until there’s either a vaccine, some sort of pharmaceutical intervention, or herd immunity, the science is the science. And public health officials have made very clear we have miles and miles to walk before we can be back in those environments.”
Garcetti’s comments — along with those of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio — are an indication of just how far away the US is from returning to normal life. The two mayors, both Democrats, run the county’s two largest cities, which are home to the largets media markets, as well as numerous major sports teams and concert venues.
Speaking to CNN earlier Wednesday, de Blasio echoed Garcetti’s caution around large gatherings, calling them “one of the last things that we bring back online.”
“I’ve got to see in my city real steady progress, even to start to think about relaxing some of those social distancing standards even a little bit. I want to get people back to work, of course. I want to get kids back to school. But I think it will take months to go through that whole sequence,” he said.
“And the last thing I want to do is gather 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 people in one place, that’s like the exact opposite of social distancing.”
Garcetti’s comments come hours after a Los Angeles Times report said the mayor had indicated in a conference call with high-level staff that large gatherings may need to hold until 2021.
While President Donald Trump has leaned into his desire to reopen the nation’s economy by May 1, state leaders and mayors across the country — who hold the power to enforce closures — have wrestled with establishing a timeline to relax social distancing measures.
Public health experts widely agree that to control the epidemic in the absence of strict social distancing measures, states and localities will need to build the capacity for additional testing and contact tracing. That process of identifying new cases of Covid-19 and then tracking down and quarantining anyone who could have been infected by those newly identified cases would be crucial in returning to normal life.
Wednesday also marked the second day in a row that Los Angeles County is reporting more coronavirus-related deaths than ever before. Health Director Barbara Ferrer said 42 people died, and another 472 coronavirus case were confirmed in the county.
Still, Garcetti said he has “some optimism” because “we’ve bent this curve.”
“But we have to stay at home for these next few weeks, we’ve extended that until May 15,” he said.
“But I do think, as we’ve all said, there is no light switch that will go on, this is more like a circuit breaker box and we have to have the ability to turn it all off again should we see outbreaks.”
This story is a breaking story and will be updated.