COVID-19 update: Thursday, April 30

Today’s numbers from the L.A. County Department of Public Health:

•Metro CEO Phil Washington made one of his regular appearances on KPCC’s AirTalk on Wednesday and provided updates on how the pandemic is impacting Metro. You can listen to the 25-minute segment here.

Among the nuggets:

–The latest numbers show Metro is carrying an estimated 450,000 to 460,000 boardings on weekdays compared to our usual 1.2 million average weekday boardings prior to the pandemic.

–40 people who work for Metro or our contractors have tested positive for the coronavirus, including 14 bus operators. The entire list is here.

–From early March to the end of this coming August, Metro estimates that the agency lose $1.5 billion to $2 billion in sales tax revenue that we would have collected — in addition to expecting to lose about 70 to 75 percent of farebox revenue. Federal stimulus money coming to Metro and other local transit operators will help make up some of those losses, but Phil said “Our losses will exceed anything we get from the federal government.”

–At last week’s Metro Board meeting, Phil also explained that Metro staff are looking at a number of ways to conserve money and will bring those to the Board. That includes looking at essential versus non-essential projects and programs.

In other Metro-related messaging: 

•Metro has been installing hand sanitizers at busier rail stations, including Union Station, 7th/Metro, Wilshire/Vermont, North Hollywood, Pico, Culver City, Chinatown, Soto, Sierra Madre, Norwalk and Willowbrook/Rosa Parks.

•Metro continues to receive orders of masks, gloves and hand sanitizers. Plus good news such as this:

Some other messaging from the agency:


In the news…

•L.A. County posted its high number to date of new coronavirus cases on Wednesday. Reports the LAT:

Los Angeles County continues to be the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in California, with cases and deaths jumping significantly even as other parts of the state see cases declining.

NPR is reporting that Gov. Newsom will likely order the closure of all state parks and beaches to prevent cities from keeping their beaches open.

In the letters to editor, LAT readers push back at a recent op-ed that argued bad traffic is in L.A.’s post-pandemic future. Excerpt from reader Marianne Haver Hill of Altadena:

I challenge local leaders to work with businesses to encourage companies to formally adopt remote working or flexible schedules.

Suppose that major businesses were to announce that they “proudly support cleaner air and reduced traffic by working remotely on Wednesdays.” Imagine if our colleges and universities no longer offered Friday classes and also asked their administrators to work at home that day.

What if more organizations were to adopt similar plans or stagger their start schedules for employees?

Many people, of course, can’t telecommute. But if enough can, I think that could certainly help improve traffic.

Another reader suggests making transit free, adding bus service and implementing congestion pricing.

Metro, btw, is forming an internal task force that will look at ways to preserve some of the changes in mobility we’ve seen these past few weeks.

•A pretty intense week for the New York MTA, where 91 employees have so far died of COVID-19. The big news today:

The New York Subway has almost always been run around-the-clock.

Earlier in the week, the NY Daily News looked at efforts to persuade homeless who ride the New York subway to accept space in shelters. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, reacting to the article, called for new efforts to “disinfect” transit. As part, of this effort, the MTA released this extraordinary statement directed at New York City’s mayor in regards to homeless shelters.

The New York MTA announced Wednesday that:

The following changes have been put in place:

No person is permitted to remain in a station for more than an hour.

During a public health emergency declared by the state, no person can remain on a train or on the platform after an announcement that the train is being taken out of service.

•A projection shows that global emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global change will be down eight percent this year, reports the NYT. Key graph:

“This historic decline in emissions is happening for all the wrong reasons,” said Fatih Birol, the agency’s executive director. “People are dying and countries are suffering enormous economic trauma right now. The only way to sustainably reduce emissions is not through painful lockdowns, but by putting the right energy and climate policies in place.”

•A poignant reminder what some folks have been going through these past few weeks from a KPCC reporter.


Department of Distraction

You can watch the previous four episodes here. They’re all gems.