L.A. County Coronavirus Update: County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer Apologizes For Controversial Remarks, “Confusion”

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Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer started her daily COVID news conference on Wednesday by apologizing — for a second time — for remarks she made on Tuesday that caused a public furor.

She apologized “for the confusion I created yesterday when I indicated that we needed to continue with the health officer orders through the next few months. I had no intention of messaging that we weren’t changing our order to reflect our recovery journey.”

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When asked Wednesday what the next few months would look like, Ferrer was non-committal, saying the data would dictate her department’s decisions.

She then ventured closer to her remarks from Tuesday, which indicated stay at home orders might persist until August. In order to really reopen, the director said, L.A. County needs three things: Therapeutic medicines, vaccinations and testing you can do at home. Ferrer said more stringent restrictions would pertain “until we have all three of the possibilities or even one or two of them.”

Until then, “we are left with “Physical distancing…infection control…and containment,” which are the measures in place now. That could, in theory, mean L.A. residents would need to stay at home until August.

Ferrer’s controversial statements yesterday came at a meeting of the county’s Board of Supervisors.

“I do think recovery will be months-long,” said Ferrer on Tuesday, “based on the tools we have at hand today.”

Stressing that “with all certainty,” the stay-at-home order set to expire at the end of this week will be expanded all the way to August, Ferrer added that “our hope is that by using the data, we’d be able to slowly lift restrictions over the next three months.”

Chaos ensued. L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti appeared on CNN not once, but twice yesterday to walk back Ferrer’s remarks. Ferrer herself then issued a statement doing the same.

“While the Safer at Home orders will remain in place over the next few months,” Ferrer’s statement read, “restrictions will be gradually relaxed under our 5-stage Roadmap to Recovery, while making sure we are keeping our communities as safe as possible during this pandemic.”

“This will be a slow journey…Everywhere we go, we will be taking protections. This is because COVID-19, as a virus, is still highly contagious.”

“As much as possible, when you can, you ought to stay home,” said Ferrer.

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