As COVID-19 continues to surge, Los Angeles County officials have issued new Safer at Home restrictions that will go into effect Monday. These will not be a severe and sweeping as the Safer at Home lockdown issued in March.
The new measures will be in effect for three weeks ending on December 20, according to Los Angeles County Public Health. Non-essential businesses will be allowed to remain open, but must limit occupancy to 20% capacity, while essential businesses are allowed to operate at 35% capacity.
All gatherings, whether public or private, with people outside your immediate household are banned. The only exceptions are church services and protests, which are constitutionally protected rights.
Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible during this period and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when outside their household and around others.
Occupancy limits at various businesses types are as follows under the new order:
- Essential retail: 35% maximum occupancy.
- Nonessential retail (includes indoor malls): 20% maximum occupancy.
- Personal care services: 20% maximum occupancy.
- Libraries: 20% maximum occupancy.
- Fitness centers operating outdoors: 50% maximum occupancy.
- Museums galleries, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens operating outdoors: 50% maximum occupancy.
- Mini-golf, batting cages, go-kart racing operating outdoors: 50% maximum occupancy.
Outdoor recreation activities are still permitted as beaches, trails, parks, golf courses, archery ranges, skate parks, bike parks and community gardens will all remain open. However, when at these locations, face coverings must be worn at all times and social distancing must be observed. Gatherings with people outside of your immediate household is prohibited.
Outdoor swimming pools will remain open for lap swimming, but only one person allowed in each lane of the pool for swimming laps.
Drive-in events such as movies or car parades are permitted provided occupants in each car are members of the same household.
All schools and day camps will remain open adhering to previously established reopening protocols. Schools and day camps which experience an outbreak (3 cases or more over 14 days) should close for 14 days.
The following non-essential business and activities will be closed:
- Playgrounds (with the exception of playgrounds at childcare and schools.
- Restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries remain closed for in-person dining, but take-out and deliveries sill allowed. The in-person dining ban went into effect Wednesday amid protests from many local officials and business owners. Breweries and wineries may remain open for retail sales at 20% occupancy.
Los Angeles County reported 4,544 new COVID-19 cases and 24 more deaths Friday, according to data released from the LA County Department of Public Health.
There are 1,893 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized and 24% of these people are in the ICU. On October 27, one month ago, there were 747 people hospitalized with COVID-19.
Public Health reminded everyone to stay home as much as possible and avoid seeing people you don’t live with, even if you don’t feel sick. Residents are also reminded to wear a face covering over their nose and mouth whenever they are outside their home and around others, as COVID-19 can be unintentionally spread to others.
The five-day average of new cases is 4,751.
To date, Public Health identified 387,793 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County and a total of 7,604 deaths.
“With the recent surge of COVID-19 across our community, we must take additional safety measures to reduce the risk of illness and death from this terrible virus and protect our healthcare system,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health.
“These targeted measures are in effect for the next three weeks and still allow for many essential and nonessential activities where residents are always masked and distanced,” Ferrer continued. “We know we are asking a lot from so many who have been sacrificing for months on end and we hope that LA County residents continue following Public Health safety measures that we know can slow the spread.”
According to current county estimates, every person with COVID-19 in the county is passing the virus to an average of 1.27 other people — the highest transmission rate the county has seen since March, before any safety protocols such as face coverings and social distancing were in place.
In order to curb the pandemic, the transmission rate must be below one, meaning that each person infected passes it to less than one other person.
Based on that transmission rate, health officials estimate one of every 145 people in the county are now infected with the virus and transmitting it to others.
“This doesn’t include people that are currently hospitalized or isolated at home,” county Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly said. “This is the estimate of people that are out and about and infecting others. They may not know they’re infected. They may know they’re infected and not be isolating. But they’re out there and they’re exposing other people to the virus.”
Ghaly said the number of people hospitalized due to the virus has jumped by 70% in the past two weeks, with the county now averaging about 300 new admissions daily.
“Based on the current estimate for [the virus transmission rate] and assuming that there’s no change in people’s behavior that would affect transmissions, there will likely be shortages in the number of hospital beds, and especially in ICU beds or intensive-care unit beds, over the next two to four weeks,” she said.
Ghaly noted that given the current transmission rate, the number of hospitalized patients could double in two weeks, and quadruple in a month. She said hospitals have “surge” plans to increase the number of beds, but the availability of health care workers to staff those beds and treat patients is more limited.