8 Days That Shook the World: From the LA Marathon to Closing All Gyms in Santa Monica
There are three known cases of COVID-19 among Santa Monica residents. What steps is the City taking?
March 28, 2020
The response of public officials to the increasing cases of COVID-19 accelerated greatly since twenty-three thousand athletes and even more spectators descended on the city to participate in the Los Angeles Marathon on March 8. At that time, officials considered adding hand sanitizer stations and advising people to stay six feet away from each other would be adequate precautions to take in a county that at that time only had 14 confirmed cases of coronavirus. (Newsflash: nobody was able to stay 6 feet away from each other.)
Today, March 19, there are now 190 known cases of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.
During this span of 10 days, local officials have imposed increasing restrictions on public gatherings and taken increasing measures to ease economic burdens brought on by these restrictions.
The change, day-by-day, in the guidelines and rules has fueled some of the panic in residents, who now wait in lines for groceries stores to open and then clean out the shelves. However, these changes and increasing restrictions have been fueled in turn by the increasing uptick in cases each day in the county.
As of today, there are three known cases of COVID-19 in Santa Monica residents.
Before even a single case of coronavirus was diagnosed in Santa Monica, however, local officials began to react to the growing number of cases in the greater Los Angeles area. Below is a summary of the blows, one hitting after another, that have sent the local populace into a tailspin.
Friday, March 13
- SMMUSD closes all schools, at first temporarily and then for a minimum of 3 weeks.
- City declares a State of Emergency, allowing them easier access to federal and state funds.
Saturday, March 14
- City imposes a moratorium on evictions for nonpayment of rent by residential tenants impacted by the coronavirus, including by reason of loss of income.
Sunday, March 15
- City closes the iconic Santa Monica Pier. This was largely in response to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) recommendation that people not gather in groups larger than 50.
Monday, March 16
- City orders the closure of many types of businesses, including sit-in restaurants, bars, gyms, movie theaters, and beauty salons.
Tuesday, March 17
- City halts street sweeping, with its attendant parking ticket issuance. They also cease giving tickets for people parking in preferential zones. It must be the start of Armageddon.
Wednesday, March 18
- City suspends all parking restrictions (additional sign of Armageddon). The Blue Bus is now free (though who would want to take it? Hardly social distancing.) Late fees for city utility payments are waived. Penalties for business licenses suspended. Vehicle towing is suspended. (The end of the world has to be coming.)
In addition, the City has halted property owners from seeking to invoke the Ellis Act on their apartment buildings in order to avoid removing rental units from the market at this time.
Every day people think "this is the new normal," additional guidelines and restrictions follow the next day. With parking tickets halted and new development at a standstill, it's no wonder the citizens of Santa Monica are freaking out and grabbing every roll of toilet paper they can find.
So far, Los Angeles County and the City of Santa Monica have resisted going to the all-out shelter-in-place orders that have been instituted by San Francisco and six other Bay Area counties, Orange County, and the City of Fresno.
We'll see how long that lasts.