News & Politics

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Says the City's Lockdown Will Last Until May—or Longer

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti shows a Memorandum with COVID-19 city departments guidelines, as he takes questions at a news conference in Los Angeles, Thursday, March 12, 2020. Garcetti closed City Hall to the public and banned all events or conferences on city-owned properties for more than 50 people. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is warning residents that the current stay-at-home order will last at least until May, “and be prepared for longer.”

Donald Trump has said he wants to get the economy going again on Easter Sunday, March 12.

In an interview with Business Insider, Garcetti was pessimistic about the immediate future.

…Garcetti pushed back against “premature optimism” in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying leaders who suggest we are on the verge of business as usual are putting lives at risk.

“I can’t say that strongly enough,” the mayor said. Optimism, he said, has to be grounded in data. And right now the data is not good.

“Giving people false hope will crush their spirits and will kill more people,” Garcetti said, adding it would change their actions by instilling a sense of normality at the most abnormal time in a generation.

“This will not kill most of us,” he said. “It will kill a lot more people than we’re used to dying around us.”

One person’s “false hope” is another’s real hope. Certainly, it’s bad in New York and LA now and will get worse. And the rest of us currently aren’t in much better shape as far as health resources.

But people need hope, or they give up. Part of Trump’s job description includes being a presidential cheerleader. His critics may prefer to wallow in pessimism and negativity. Trump can’t afford to, and that’s the basic difference between the president and the mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti can indulge his nightmarish fears, but Trump, as the national leader, can’t do that.

Trump’s Easter deadline gives people something to look forward to. When it doesn’t come to pass, they will be disappointed. But not having any hope at all is worse.

Garcetti seems determined to embrace the worst-case scenario.

“The main horrifying thing that I think is keeping every local leader awake is the projection of how many people will get this, the projection of what the mortality rate will be, and how many dead we will have,” Garcetti said. “Will we have hundreds of thousands of deaths, or tens of thousands of deaths? That’s what keeps us up.”

“It will be our friends. It will be our family. It will be people who we love dearly,” he said. “And everything I do is through that lens.”

If all you can see is the worst case, it will probably come true.