The State of California and the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health are reporting an alarming surge in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. Effective Friday, November 20, 2020, Los Angeles County has announced that it will tighten safeguards and restrictions. These safeguards and restrictions are aimed at protecting the public health and safety of community members and ensuring the capacity to be effectively treated in the region’s hospitals.
Public Health officials also report that “Coronavirus Fatigue” may translate to apathy and resistance to health and safety warnings, such as recommendations for wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing and COVID-19 safety protocols. In the State of California, COVID-19-related hospitalizations have jumped by 36 percent and the number of coronavirus-infected ICU patients is up by 37 percent during the past week.
The first Los Angeles County measures, effective this Friday, include:
- For non-essential businesses permitted to operate indoors — including retail stores, offices, and personal care services — occupancy will be limited to 25 percent maximum capacity.
- The number of patrons at outdoor restaurants, breweries, and wineries will be limited to 50 percent 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 p.m. to 6 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. Indoor gatherings with people outside of the immediate household are not permitted.
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 by Los Angeles County:
- 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 by Los Angeles County:
- 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 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would be mandated, with essential workers exempt.
The City is getting the word out that Thanksgiving and upcoming holidays present enormous challenges for Public Health officials, who are urging people to stay home and stay in their households. Public Health officials are concerned about the potential for an even higher rise in positive infections and hospitalizations in the weeks ahead as people gather for holiday celebrations, even as experts strongly encourage people to stay safe at home.
Public Health officials at the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health are concerned that people who are not exhibiting symptoms may unknowingly infect others including parents, grandparents, and friends and family who have underlying health conditions and who are at greater risk for serious illness and death.
As California surpassed one million COVID-19 cases last week and as the rate of infections continued to rise across the country, the State of California issued a Travel Advisory urging Californians to stay home or in the region and to avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries. The Travel Advisory additionally urges visitors entering California or returning home from travel outside California to self-quarantine to slow the spread of COVID-19. The travel advisory urges against non-essential out-of-state travel, and asks people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country.
The State of California Travel Advisory also recommends that individuals limit their interactions to their immediate households and urges people only to travel for essential duties, defined as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued a new statement that wearing a face covering helps to protect the wearer, not just those around them, from coronavirus transmission noting that masks act as “source control” to block virus particles exhaled by the wearer and provide “filtration for personal protection” by blocking incoming infectious droplets from others. The new CDC guidance cites a number of studies showing that face coverings reduce the risk of transmitting or catching the virus by more than 70 percent in various instances. The CDC has face covering guidance on its website.
A recent UCLA study found that even a simple cloth mask provides significant protections against COVID-19 transmission, reducing the spread of respiratory droplets by as much as 77 percent and the combination of face shield and cloth mask improved the particle reduction to 89 percent. The study was published in the current edition of the peer-reviewed journal Aerosol Science and Technology, and can be viewed here.