As residents of Los Angeles continue to practice social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), the city’s air quality is the best it’s been in decades.
According to an air quality index compiled by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the air quality was “good” for the entire month of March, which hasn’t been the case since at least 1995.
In March 2017, the air quality in Los Angeles was deemed “unhealthy” and even “hazardous” in July 2019.
Cody Hill, an energy company executive based in the Bay Area of California, explained on Twitter that the improved quality of air is likely from “reduced driving with the same vehicle fleet.”
“It could be the new normal and ~13 million people living there would be healthier if we electrify transportation,” Hill added.
Photos of Los Angeles also show the drastic difference as the notorious smog is less visible.
The smog is often due to the mixture of carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide from cars.
On March 19, Gov. Gavin Newson issued a statewide “stay at home” order.
Effective that evening, all Californians — almost 40 million people in total — are to remain inside their residences under the new directive and will only be allowed out to pick up food and other essential items. The order is in place until further notice.
Per the executive order, all dine-in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, entertainment venues, gyms, fitness studios and convention centers have stopped operation.
Essential services such as pharmacies, gas stations, banks, laundromats and places offering food — such as grocery stores, food banks, farmers markets, convenience stores and eateries with takeout or delivery — are allowed to remain open.
The executive came just half an hour after Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that the city’s residents are to remain inside their residences under a new “Safer at Home” emergency order.
Los Angeles March 2020
Los Angeles February 2020
“Los Angeles, this is our moment to lead with love and protect those lives that mean everything to us,” he said during a press briefing. “This is not a request. This is an order.”
As of Tuesday, there are over 17,000 cases of coronavirus in California and 420 deaths, according to a New York Times database.
There are now at least 395,090 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, the most worldwide.
At least 12,786 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus-related illness.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.