L.A. mayor receives letter from U.S. Justice Department warning that further extension of stay-at-home order could be illegal.

May 24. 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday sent a letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, warning them that prolonging the coronavirus stay-at-home orders, which they have been considering, may be unlawful.

In the letter, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband wrote: “Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you suggested the possibility of long-term lockdown of the residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for such restrictions. We remain concerned about what may be an arbitrary and heavy-handed approach to continuing stay-at-home requirements.”

During a press briefing, Garcetti said they will not allow politics to get in their way and assured the public that “There’s no games, there’s nothing else going on, and that’s the way we’re going to continue to safely open.”

The mayor added that “There’s no city in the world that right now doesn’t have some sort of orders and restrictions because we know this virus kills.”

While more and more shops and restaurants are reopening in the Golden State, Los Angeles, which accounts for a quarter of the state’s approximately 40 million residents, is moving to reopen more cautiously.

Roughly half of California’s coronavirus cases are in LA, including 55% of the state’s 3,630 COVID-19 related fatalities.

For the majority of the general population, COVID-19 is not life threatening, as symptoms range from a high fever and a dry cough. It usually takes two to three weeks to recover. 

Up to half of people with the coronavirus are asymptomatic carriers, meaning they are unaware they have it because they don’t feel any symptoms.

The most vulnerable population to experience extreme symptoms, including death, are seniors with comorbidity (the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient).

Mayor Garcetti was not the only one who received a letter from Dreiband. Earlier in the week, Governor Gavin Newsom, too, received a letter from the Assistant Attorney General that stated, “Simply put, there is no pandemic exception to the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights.”

On Friday, President Donald Trump demanded that state governors allow places of worship to reopen effective immediately, but did not give out details as to what would happen if they opposed.