Health officials in Los Angeles County, California, just announced that the lockdown will likely be extended in the area until the end of July, dashing residents’ hopes of a somewhat normal summer.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), confessed during a Wednesday interview with MSNBC’s Morning Joe that she supports the decision, admitting that it’s “inconvenient,” but reiterating the risk of increased infections if the county returns to work.
Inconvenient but necessary
As infection rates begin to dip across the nation — save for a few isolated hot spots — most in the nation have shifted the focus from fear of the virus to returning to a sense of normalcy.
LA County, the most populous county in the nation and home to over 10 million people, has had the worst outbreak of the virus in the state. However, death tolls have remained low since the onset of the pandemic. Of the 34,000 cases confirmed in the area, just 1,659 have resulted in death.
Despite the level of relative control the state has maintained over the lethality and spread of the virus, the Washington Examiner reported on Tuesday that “Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said she expects the county to continue its shutdown measures unless ‘dramatic change to the virus and tools are at hand.'”
When asked for her thoughts on the implications an additional three months of lockdown would have on the already struggling California economy, Pelosi replied:
Of course I agree with the decisions of the people on the ground in there particular venue and location … Yes, it’s inconvenient, but it’s more inconvenient to be infected or worse, or if you’re going to go out to work and bring something home to your family. I think that’s the biggest fear that all of us have is what does it mean to the children and family members. Again, if that’s the decision that the city of Los Angeles made and the Cal state system, then I respect that.
Los Angeles County has taken a particularly hard hit from the lockdowns because much of the local economy is predicated on tourism and entertainment, industries that have been deemed non-essential.
LA mayor Eric Garcetti revealed last week that the unemployment rate in the city had skyrocketed from 4.7 percent before the virus to more than 24 percent as of May 9 — 10 points higher than the national unemployment rate of 14.7 percent.
State-wide, unemployment is expected to reach 18 percent by the end of 2020. California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted that the numbers are “jaw-dropping” and “alarming,” but has still been reluctant to allow businesses to return to normal despite declining infection rates across the state.
Though many politicians have framed lockdowns in much the same way that Pelosi has — “inconvenient” but necessary, Americans are becoming restless. Though the US is still experiencing high rates of infections and deaths from the virus, a downward trend in the rate of infections is beginning to emerge.
According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the number of new coronavirus cases in the US has not surpassed 30,000 since May 1, despite a dramatic increase in testing in the same time period.
The Los Angeles Times reported that of the 23 million total unemployed in the month of April, 18 million were reportedly temporarily laid off. However, as some leaders continue to indefinitely extend lockdown orders, millions more of those layoffs may become permanent.