California COVID-19 Crisis: Unions call for month-long shutdown in LA County

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LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — Despite sobering statistics and a stay-at-home order, the shopping scene in California is quite a contrast to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, especially in LA County.

So, a coalition of unions is calling for a hard shutdown.

Holiday shopping is evident this season. The state’s COVID-19 restrictions allow for retail stores to remain open with limited capacity.

Otherwise, Beverly Evelyn said wouldn’t be out shopping at the request of her granddaughters.

“People are not taking it seriously, they think it’s a joke. And it’s not a joke,” said shopper Evelyn.

A hard shutdown like the one back in March is what a coalition of powerful unions is calling for during the entire month of January. The coalition includes union nurses, teachers and hotel workers.

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“We need to stop what we’re doing because we are only making things worse,” Kurt Peterson, Co-President, Unite Here Local 11 said.

Peterson represents thousands of hospitality workers in a union mourning the loss of a member almost every week due to COVID-19.

“What we need is to get the pandemic under control and at the same time, enormous relief for people because one without the other just isn’t going to work. We need the federal government and the state of California to provide money, direct money to workers and small businesses so they both can survive,” Peterson said.

A new federal aid package appears to be in the pipeline, but advocates say that wouldn’t be enough.
Business operators say they just can’t afford another shutdown.

“At least now, it’s not enough to pay the rent but at least the business is around. Too many businesses around here, they close,” said store manager Patricia Battista.

The shutdown call comes amid more grim statistics. Thursday, California reported 379 COVID-19 deaths, nearly a hundred more than yesterday.

LA County also has high virus case numbers. Health officials estimate there are at least two deaths every hour. Also, ICUs at all Southern California hospitals reached full capacity.

Health officials have attributed the current spike to gatherings over Thanksgiving. It’s hoped the dire situation now will prevent people from ignoring the same warnings for Christmas.

“If you don’t do everything possible to minimize the spread, then you are contributing to the spread “Our hospitals are under siege. And our models show no end in sight,” Dr. Christina Ghaly, LA County Health Services Director.

The LA County board will meet next Tuesday. It has not yet responded to the call for a hard shutdown.

Supervisors are also contending with a counter push by businesses seeking to expand operations and overturn the outdoor dining ban.

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