Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Pasadena) and Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer hosted a telephone town hall on July 21 to update constituents on the ever-evolving pandemic.    

“Our state is, unfortunately, breaking records and all the wrong kind,” said Schiff. “From increased hospitalizations to daily records for newly confirmed cases. That means we are all going to really redouble our efforts to social distance, wash our hands [and] wear masks to slow the spread of the virus before more Californians’ [lives] are cut tragically short.”

The press conference came at a time where the United States continued to be the epicenter of the global pandemic recording over 4 million cases as of Sunday, July 26. California also recorded one of the most amounts of cases with over 450,000 cases.

Southern California is the hardest hit in the entire state with the top five counties in the number of cases: Los Angeles, Riverside, Orange, San Bernardino and San Diego. LA County accounts for about a third of the state’s total cases with almost 173,000.

“The surge in infections and the subsequent illness, hospitalization and death is attributed to the reality that starting four weeks ago more and more people in LA County began to be in close contact with each other,” said Ferrer.

Ferrer added that on reopening many establishments did not enforce the health codes established by public health officials, which contributed to the further rise.

“Our initial inspection at workplaces including restaurants and bars showed poor compliance with the public health directives,” said Ferrer. “The unfortunate reality is because the virus is spread by individuals who often have no symptoms, people are easily able to spread the infection at their workplaces, within their families and among the general public.”

According to the California Department of Public Health, Latinos are disproportionately affected by the virus. Of the states’ approximately 450,000 cases 56% of those infected are Latino. Of the states’ 8,416 deaths, 46% are Latino.

LA County reflects the same data with infections and deaths amongst Latinos being the highest in the county.

“The most devastating reality of this spread is that our black and brown residents and people living in high poverty communities are bearing the brunt of this virus,” said Ferrer. “They’re exponentially more likely to be infected with the virus and they’re dying of the virus at the rates of two to four times greater than people who live in wealthier communities and residents who are white.”

Schiff and Ferrer also fielded questions from their constituents, one of which regarded the mandatory masks. Ferrer took an opportunity to convey a message of unity and compassion to those who fail to follow the orders.

“I think kindness goes a long way here,” said Ferrer. “I think helping people understand that they are wearing a face covering to show you care about other people… This is about you caring enough for other people that are around you.”