Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the city of Santa Monica had confirmation of quarantined patients at local hospitals and residents who are in self-quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus. City Manager Rick Cole later said he misspoke during a Tuesday interview with the Daily Press and retracted the statement.

Public health officials said Tuesday that 50 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Los Angeles County and declared a temporary moratorium on residential and commercial evictions in parts of the county as many types of businesses were ordered to close.

Officials said at a press conference Tuesday that one case had been confirmed in Santa Monica. Three Bergamot area offices — Colorado Center, Water Garden and Universal Music’s offices on Colorado Avenue — said over the weekend they each had an employee who had recently tested positive for the virus and closed temporarily for cleaning.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said people should behave as though they are in close proximity to people with coronavirus because it will be impossible for a long time to test everyone who may be positive. More than 1,100 people in L.A. County have been tested so far, she said.

“We will continue to see new cases as we increase our capacity to test, and as more people get infected,” Ferrer said. “That doesn’t mean social distancing is not working. If you look around the world … it takes three to four weeks to see the fruit of our labors … because the incubation period is 14 days. If you can stay home and isolate, please do so.”

The county has 23,000 hospital beds and 650 available ventilators, not including surge capacity, said L.A. County Department of Health Services Director Christina Ghaly. She also urged healthy individuals to donate blood because the county is short 5,500 blood donations and blood has a shelf-life of just 42 days.

L.A. County officials said the moratorium on no-fault residential and commercial evictions in unincorporated areas of the county will start retroactively on March 4 and last until May 31. Tenants will have six months after the end of May to make up any unpaid rent. Supervisor Kathryn Barger said she is looking into expanding the moratorium countywide.

The state legislature is also likely to suspend evictions statewide and allocate additional aid to residents, businesses and landlords, officials said. Under legislation moving rapidly through Congress, all Americans could receive checks to counter the economic effects of coronavirus.

“We know the public health guidance regarding the closures is having an immediate impact on thousands who rely on these jobs for their livelihoods and creating a huge burden on business owners and employers,” Barger said.

City Manager Rick Cole said Santa Monicans should prepare for a long-term disruption to their lives.

“This is going to go on at this level of intensity I think for a couple of months, anyone that thinks life is going to go back to normal Apr. 1 is fooling themselves,” he said. “This level of social distancing and even more drastic social isolation may be in the cards for us in Los Angeles County for at least the next couple of months. Normal life is going to be severely disrupted with huge social and economic impacts, not just on us in Santa Monica but on all of Los Angeles and California if not the nation and the world.”

He said there will likely be months if not years of additional recovery efforts needed to address the economic impacts of a prolonged disruption.

“While people are fixed on today at this minute and what’s going to happen next, I do think it’s important to take the long view that we’re going to be in this for quite a while,” he said.

Barger reminded businesses and workers financially impacted by coronavirus to apply for Small Business Administration Disaster Loans and other resources available from the county and state, including loans and insurance for unemployment, illness and family leave.

This article was updated Mar. 18 at 8:57 a.m.


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