S. California heat wave could break all-time records, raising fears of effects

By Alex Wigglesworth and Kim Christensen, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

Officials are warning of an elevated risk of heat-related illnesses. People are advised to drink plenty of water and stay inside in air conditioning. Those who don't have air conditioning should try to go to a neighbor's home or cooling center.

Dozens of cooling centers opened across Los Angeles and Orange counties in recreation centers, public libraries, senior facilities and gyms.

"People can come in, have a seat, enjoy the coolness and have some cool water," said Renee Breaux, a Los Angeles city employee working Saturday at the cooling center at the South Los Angeles Sports Activity Center, in the 7000 block of South Figueroa Street.

"We didn't have anybody here yesterday, but I think we'll have some today," she said, as the temperature climbed into the 90s, just before the center opened at noon.

The city opened seven centers Saturday from noon to 8 p.m., most with capacities ranging from 33 to 44 people to accommodate social distancing requirements, said Jimmy Kim, superintendent of emergency management for the city's Recreation and Parks Department.

Kim said visitors to the centers are screened for temperature and any symptoms of COVID-19, including coughs and headaches. Their contact information also is noted so that they can be traced in the event of an outbreak of the coronavirus.


No one had been turned away from the centers because of COVID-19 symptoms, Kim said Saturday, but concerns about the disease are expected to keep the turnout low. On Friday, when six centers were in operation, only 33 people used them across the city.

"The last time we had the cooling centers open was about two weeks ago," he said. "With COVID, their use has been significantly reduced."

All who use the centers are required to wear face coverings. Hand sanitizer is provided, as well as masks if necessary, and maintenance staff routinely clean all high-touch areas, Kim said. Floor space is marked off to ensure social distancing.

Even with what are expected to be record temperatures for the rest of the weekend, Kim said, the cooling centers should have ample capacity. If necessary, he said, more centers can be opened on short notice.


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