Chicago public school classes canceled for third day as clash over Covid-19 safety concerns continues

The city of Los Angeles is safe, assured Mayor Eric Garcetti, despite Covid-19 infections hitting over 800 fire and police department staff.

“I’m here today with a clear message when it comes to public safety,” said Garcetti outside of a downtown L.A. fire station. “Both LAPD and LAFD have maintained staffing levels that are needed to keep Angelenos safe and we have maintained staffing levels to make sure you, your family, our communities are safe. ”

Garcetti announced 505 police officers and 299 fire department sworn and civilian employees are in quarantine at home, as of Wednesday. “These are big numbers, numbers that are reflecting the staffing challenges that we all face,” said Garcetti. 

He says five out of six members in both departments are fully vaccinated, while about 82% of workers citywide are in compliance with the mandate, requiring full vaccination by mid-December. Garcetti has authorized overtime funds to cover police and fire staffing in addition to enhancing recruiting to fill out staffing levels. 

“Our continued response time will see some delay in routine calls,” said LAPD Chief Michel Moore but stressed 911 services are fully staffed. 

LAFD Chief Ralph Terrazas said the number of firefighters off-duty due to the virus is “the highest we’ve seen at any one time,” noting that a few weeks ago, it was 24. Adequate daily staffing for the fire department is a combination of those on assigned shifts, voluntary overtime, and those who are force hired – employees notified as they are headed home for the day that they need to continue to work. “Our response time have been impacted by our lack of staffing due to Covid,” said Terrazas. Critical life support calls increased by 13-seconds from 2020-2021 while structure fire calls have increased by six-seconds, he said. 

During the news conference, a man in the crowd repeatedly interrupted speakers, calling attention to the shooting death of a teen in a Burlington department store in late December. Garcetti, on his 100th Covid address to the city, switched topics and said he’s been laser-focused on the investigation into the LAPD’s fatal shooting of Valentina Orellana-Peralta. He promised “maximum transparency, sensitivity, and accountability.” 

“We are sworn to protect and serve and there is no greater circumstance than to lose an innocent victim and to lose a child while we’re trying to come to the aid of the very people in that store, in this crisis moment, it is just unimaginable,” said Moore heavily. Like the mayor, he reiterated transparency and commitment to the investigation. Moore said the attorney general’s office has full access to the police department’s investigation. 

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