RAFU STAFF REPORT
With COVID-19 surging to new levels in Los Angeles County, the county is sharing information on resources for employers and employees of small businesses to help stay open and stay safe during the pandemic.
On Sunday, L.A. County reported 13,315 new cases of COVID-19 and 58 additional deaths, along with another new record for hospitalizations related to the coronavirus. Sunday’s numbers bring the county’s totals to 623,670 cases and 8,875 fatalities since the pandemic began in March.
The Southern California region — which covers Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Imperial, Inyo, Mono, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ventura counties — is under a state-imposed regional stay-at-home order that bars gatherings of people from different households and forced the closure of many businesses, while restricting capacity at others
Schools with waivers can remain open, along with “critical infrastructure” and retail stores, which will be limited to 20% of capacity.
Restaurants are restricted to takeout and delivery service only. Hotels are allowed to open “for critical infrastructure support only,” while churches would be restricted to outdoor only services. Entertainment production — including professional sports — would be allowed to continue without live audiences.
The order will remain in effect until at least Dec. 28.
During a briefing by Ethnic Media Services, Carl Kemp, environmental health public affairs manager of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, urged the public to stay at home as much as possible and to follow the COVID safety protocols.
For businesses, the county is offering a free online training course in COVID safety compliance. The training is available in 13 languages and can be viewed at http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/covid19cert.htm
So far, 14,000 businesses have completed the training, which involves watching a 37-minute video and completing a survey. Upon completion, businesses receive a COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certificate that they can display in their storefont.
“CSCCP is one page, sort of like a restaurant grade that your business is in compliance,” Kemp said.
The county has launched a “Safer at Work LA” campaign to boost awareness of public health orders and support essential workers who don’t have the luxury of staying home.
Sara Fisher, economic justice and community partnerships manager at L.A. County Aging and Community Services, presented the creative campaign that is ongoing in several languages.
“The campaign targets three sectors: employers, employees and customers to understand changing regulations,” Fisher said. “These bright, fun reminders of what people can do to keep L.A. safer.”
“Our essential workers, by definition, are integral to the functioning of our healthcare system, food supply chain, government operations and much more. Keeping them safe is more important now than ever before,” Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “The Safer at Work LA campaign is a critical reminder that worksites and businesses, as well as customers and employees, must collectively work together to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.”
Ernesto Bobadilla, consumer and business affairs specialist at the L.A. County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs, shared information on a disaster helpline the county operates that provides assistance to business owners, landlords and tenants.
The call center operates Monday through Friday; the most frequent questions are on funding resources and how businesses can open and operate safely.
“It’s a catch-all 800 number. Even if we don’t provide the direct service, we can connect to the right agency,” Bobadilla explained.
To access the disaster helpline, call (833) 238-4450 or email email@example.com.
Bet Tzedek Legal Services offer legal education, outreach and direct legal services through L.A. County. Alisa Shudofsky, director of Bet Tzedec Pro Bono Programs, said that the pandemic has exacerbated problems, particularly in minority and immigrant populations.
“We’re conscious of fact that marginalized communities have been impacted in a severe way. There has been a 40% drop in black-owned business, 30% drop in Latinx, female businesses,” Shudofsky said. “So we have stepped up our outreach to help business owners get on their feet. Renegotiating commercial leases, rent deferrals payments, other lease issues. Contract enforceability, how to be a good employer, insurance issues, entity formation.
“Free legal webinars open to anyone. We also make direct legal services available. That’s an important part of our mandate.”
For business assistance, webinars, FAQs and COVID updates, and to apply for legal assistance, visit: https://www.bettzedek.org/smallbusiness