LA County to implement tighter safeguards and restrictions to curb COVID-19 spread

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Effective Friday, November 20, Los Angeles County will tighten pandemic safeguards and restrictions as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to increase significantly.

COVID-19 cases have more than doubled since the beginning of November and hospitalizations have increased from an average of about 900 a day to well over 1,000 a day in same time period.

The first measures, effective this Friday, are:

• For non-essential businesses permitted to operate indoors—including retail stores, offices, personal care services—occupancy will be limited to 25% maximum capacity.
• The number of patrons at outdoor restaurants, breweries and wineries will be limited to 50% max outdoor capacity.
• The number customers at cardrooms, outdoor mini-golf, go-karts and batting cages will be limited to 50% maximum outdoor capacity.
• Services at personal care establishments may only be provided by appointment to customers wearing face coverings by staff wearing face coverings.
• Services that require either the customer or the staff to remove their face covering, such as facials and shaves, are not permitted.
• Food and drinks cannot be served at these establishments to customers.
• Restaurants, breweries, wineries, bars, and all other non-essential retail establishments must close from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
• Outdoor gatherings remain the only gatherings permitted, and they must only include 15 people maximum who are members of no more than 3 households.

The Health Officer Order will be amended to reflect the above restrictions.

At this time, the County is reporting 2,884 cases as the five-day average and 1,126 hospitalized patients.

The County continues to anticipate the potential continued surge of cases and hospitalizations. The County has established thresholds for additional actions if cases or hospitalizations continue to increase.

If the five-day average of cases in the County becomes 4,000 or more or hospitalizations are more than 1,750 per day, the following restriction will be added:

• Outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will be prohibited and these businesses will only be able to offer pick-up and delivery.

Businesses in this sector are being notified via email by DPH, which will work with them to ensure a smooth transition.

If the five-day average of cases in the County becomes 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, the following restriction will be added:

• A Safer at Home Order will be instituted for three weeks. The Order would only allow essential workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes.

• A 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. curfew would be mandated, with essential workers exempt.

Public health director Barbara Ferrer said Monday the county’s average daily rate of new cases per 100,000 residents was 13.7, nearly double the 7.6 rate from a week ago. The county’s seven-day average daily rate of positive virus tests was 5.3% on Monday, up from 3.8% just a week ago.

The county reported 2,795 cases on Monday — a day when case reports are traditional lower due to a lag in reporting of test results over the weekend. Long Beach health officials announced 130 more cases Monday, while Pasadena reported 16. The new cases lifted the cumulative county total to 342,489 since the start of the pandemic.

Another six coronavirus-related deaths were also reported by the county Monday, raising the death toll to 7,275.

“It is clear that L.A. County is at a very dangerous point in the pandemic,” Ferrer said.

Health officials have pointed squarely at gatherings of residents — either in public or private settings — for driving the recent surge, which has primarily involved younger residents under age 50.

Ferrer said residents between the ages of 18-29 have consistently accounted for a larger proportion of new cases over the last two months, dramatically widening the gap over all other age groups. But while younger people are becoming infected more often, it is older residents suffering the consequences in terms of hospitalizations, she said, meaning young people are becoming infected and passing the virus to older residents who are at higher risk of severe illness.

“This is most unfortunate and it serves as a stark reminder that young people are spreading the virus with disastrous results for our elderly,” Ferrer said.

Los Angeles County is already mired in the most restrictive purple tier of California’s four-tier coronavirus monitoring system, placing severe limits on businesses and public gatherings. Based on the surge in cases in recent weeks, the county will be staying in that purple tier indefinitely.

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced that 28 counties statewide were being moved back to the purple tier in response to a dramatic increase in case numbers. The move means 41 of the state’s 58 counties are under the tightest restrictions, up from 13 on Sunday.

“Los Angeles County is at a critical moment to save lives and curb the spread of COVID-19. I urge our residents, businesses and community leaders to heed this warning and follow these heightened safeguards so that additional restrictions do not need to be imposed,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “We are so grateful that many of our residents are wearing face coverings, keeping physically distanced and avoiding gathering with people they don’t live with, but we need everyone to do their part and follow these measures. Lives and livelihoods are at stake and our entire community will be affected by our collective action if we do the right thing.”