Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti used to be widely regarded as a rising star in the Democrat party, someone who could be expected to run for President someday. After Joe Biden was the presumptive Democrat nominee in mid-2020, and despite Garcetti’s massive failure addressing the homelessness issue in Los Angeles, his name was floated as a potential running mate then Cabinet appointee.
Even as Los Angeles spun out of control amid prolonged Wuhan coronavirus lockdowns, Black Lives Matter “peaceful protests,” the unfortunate results of soft-on-crime policies, and even larger increases in homelessness, Garcetti could count on softball interviews with the mainstream media.
No longer, as Mayor Yoga Pants’ Sunday appearance on Face the Nation evidences. What happened? Well, there’s no way to know for sure, but the energy around Garcetti started to change in late October, when independent journalist Yashar Ali published a number of exclusive stories corroborating staff accounts of repeated sexual harassment and even assault at the hands of Garcetti’s mentor and consigliere-of-sorts, Rick Jacobs.
After Ali’s series was published (in which he came forward with his own story of being sexually harassed and assaulted by Jacobs, Garcetti’s Biden surrogate duties were greatly diminished. And that potential cabinet seat? Well, Garcetti’s phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook.
It was against this backdrop that Garcetti appeared on Face the Nation to parrot Team Biden’s fiction that Bad Orange Man is responsible for delays in vaccines going from state warehouses into
guinea pigs‘ at-risk Americans’ arms. Given that Los Angeles is dealing with a massive spike in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, the interview should have been one big hand-wringing blame-fest.
Instead, reporter Margaret Brennan hammered Garcetti on the issue, pushing back on Garcetti’s blame game, and Garcetti was wholly unprepared to face tough questions. Not only were his answers full of stats and facts that are flat-out wrong; he had no response to legitimate questions about the state’s responsibility for rollout and his rhetoric actually harmed his position. (Lots of guilt-tripping and virtue signaling was mixed in though, naturally.)
The bottom line – the interview showed how completely unprepared Garcetti is to play in the big leagues.
For example, when Garcetti was asked why the virus is so deadly in Los Angeles right now, he replied:
Well, we’re seeing a person every six seconds contract COVID-19 here in Los Angeles County, the nation’s largest county, 10 million people. And it’s two reasons, one is just simple density. We’re the densest metro area in the United States. But we’re also seeing the household spread now. One person is coming home, an essential worker, there might be five, seven, 10 people in that household…So, my message to everybody is this is not only going to come for somebody that you love. This is going to possibly come for you. And so everything we do is either lifesaving or life-taking at this point.
Garcetti is just flat-out wrong about Los Angeles County being the densest metro area in the United States. Even the City of Los Angeles isn’t even close to New York City density, or even San Francisco City/County. To put it in perspective, New York County has a population density of 69,468 people per square mile. San Francisco City/County has a population density of 17,179 people per square mile, and Los Angeles County has a population density of 2,100 people per square mile.
Garcetti has a point about household spread, though the number of people living in one home might not be what he says. (Who knows; he gives no basis for his assertion.) One reason it’s spreading so fast within family/friend groups is because it’s a virus and, like all viruses, people are most contagious in the 24 to 48 hours before they become symptomatic (if they become symptomatic) and by then they’ve given those around them a big healthy dose of exposure.
But, Brennan asked, is a shortage of medical personnel partly to blame for the spike in deaths? Of course not, says Garcetti. This virus knows when we’re tired and weak and strikes harder!
There’s no question that we have a shortage of medical personnel, but that’s not yet why we think those deaths are happening….This is a virus that preys off of our weakness, preys off of our exhaustion. If you get two households together for Christmas, if you went to a New Year’s gathering – even if it was people you know and love so you thought it was OK – that’s when this virus exploits that weakness and is going far.
Sure, Jan. Also, the guidance from Gov. Newsom says no more than three households, and obviously if this virus knows when we’re exhausted it will know if we have less than three households together and leave us alone. Right? Right? Oh, wait. But didn’t Garcetti just say that the major driver of spread was intra-household, at least among poor “essential workers”?
Answering the next question, about mask mandates and compliance, Garcetti meandered into complete fiction territory.
L.A. was the first place to close places down that – where people meet, have a mask mandate, offer widespread testing to folks with or without symptoms, surge into our senior and skilled nursing facilities…where we arrested most of the deaths there. We’ve done everything right. But this virus doesn’t care what you’ve done in the past, only what you’re doing today.
I mean, I just don’t even know where to start with this answer.
First off, there are no studies showing that the places they’ve callously shut down – restaurants, gyms, hair salons, schools – are places at which the virus is transmitted at a much higher rate than, say, a grocery store or gas station. The county and city have both been sued over the restaurant issue and failed to produce any evidence for the claim that restaurants drive the spread of the virus.
Next, counties in the Los Angeles area are not offering widespread testing to folks with or without symptoms. Personally, I tested positive for coronavirus in November and received a quick test only because I paid out of pocket to find a facility where rapid testing was available. I first called the Urgent Care center my insurance company referred me to and asked for a rapid test because I was symptomatic, had just learned that two people I’d recently been in contact with tested positive, and because I’m dating a first responder. I was told that there was a shortage of rapid testing supplies and that the first responder (who wasn’t symptomatic) could get a rapid test due to their exposure but I couldn’t. First responders get tests at work anyway, so their reasoning was nonsensical.
Others have told me that they were asymptomatic but had been around someone who tested positive and weren’t allowed to test, and one friend who was experiencing some symptoms and whose spouse tested positive and was very ill wasn’t allowed to test – because they didn’t have a fever or loss of taste/smell. Finally that friend – who works in a hair salon/spa, which was then open – lied and said they had those symptoms, and the test was positive. (Hmm, Mayor Garcetti, maybe this selective testing – leaving out people who are in fact positive and contagious – is leading to some of the spread?)
Garcetti’s assertions that they “arrested most of the deaths” in senior and skilled nursing facilities and that they’ve “done everything right” are downright insulting. They’re not even funny. While New York’s Gov. Cuomo has rightly been skewered for his role in sentencing thousands of elderly people to death, California – especially Los Angeles – wasn’t far behind. As of mid-May, 51% of the county residents who’d died from coronavirus were residents in nursing homes. By January 4, 2021, that percentage was down to 22.6, which is probably something that Garcetti would brag about but he really shouldn’t. What that really says is that they killed off so many nursing home residents in the first few months of the pandemic (see this open letter from “Dr.” Barbara Ferrer’s staff describing the screw-ups) that there weren’t as many left to kill.
Brennan then turned to the main topic – vaccine distribution – and referenced Garcetti’s claims that vaccine manufacturers and the federal government needed to do more to ensure that the vaccine is distributed quickly, asking him if he believes Gavin Newsom should be doing more since distribution is a state responsibility? Incredibly, Garcetti stuck to his script, saying that the state hadn’t received what was promised at the national level. Like what? Are the vaccines in the state or not? When Brennan pressed him, reiterating that distribution is a state issue, Garcetti replied with typical fact-free whining and accidentally (?) blamed Democrats in Congress.
Well, I respectfully disagree because I said six months ago, calling with Senator Chris Coons and a bipartisan coalition in Washington for a care corps, a care corps that would have trained people for all sorts of things, including vaccine distribution, while Washington dithered, while they went on vacations, while they didn’t pass a relief bill for seven or eight months–we could have been training out of work folks and students to be ready.
Say what? Who dithered in Washington and went on vacations while they didn’t pass a relief bill? That would be Nancy Pelosi. And with all of the funding to public health offices for coronavirus, you mean to tell me you couldn’t carve out some of that to train out of work folks? Not to mention, Mayor Garcetti, you were ready to have city employees enforce your stay-at-home order back in March. Why not train your city employees?
Garcetti wasn’t done making himself look terrible. He then said out loud what we all knew…
We knew that the surge was coming in the winter. We also knew that the same medical personnel who would need to give the vaccines, if we were lucky to get them by the end of the year – and we did – would also be pulled into those hospitals to treat people.
Yes, we knew the surge was coming in the winter. We knew that we needed hospital beds and medical personnel and people trained to administer vaccines. So why didn’t you prepare for it? Now Los Angeles is in a terrible situation; just a day after Garcetti’s horrific interview the county’s Emergency Medical Services Agency issued a memo “directing ambulance staff not to transfer to hospitals most patients who have virtually no chance of survival,” and one hospital-based medical professional in the city told our Alex Parker that their hospital is “considering a death committee to see who is going to qualify for a vent, and we are not the only hospital considering this.”
I wonder how many of those people who end up being abandoned or are possibly facing a death committee didn’t know they were COVID-positive until it was too late because of the county’s FUBAR testing program?
It’s difficult to watch the interview without feeling the urge to say to Garcetti, “Oh, Eric, bless your heart, it’s time to not say anything,” but here it is if you like trainwrecks.