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Garcetti urges L.A. residents to stay home on New Year’s Eve, LAPD vows to crack down on gatherings

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is pleading with revelers to stay home on New Year’s Eve and said he plans to crack down on “super-spreader” events in the city.

In a somber briefing Wednesday — his 83rd and final COVID-19 briefing of the year — a beleaguered Garcetti described 2020 as “the toughest year of our city’s history” and said, despite the holiday, “it’s almost too painful to look backward.”

“Nobody should be gathering in a big party, and nobody should be gathering in a small party, as well,” he said, noting that the latest coronavirus surge has been tied to Thanksgiving gatherings. “These are the ways this virus will spread to your loved ones, to those closest to you.”

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The announcement came as Los Angeles County marked its 10,000th death from COVID-19 and broke a single-day record for deaths for the second day in a row, notching 262 fatalities on Wednesday after recording 242 on Tuesday.

The current surge has crippled the region’s healthcare system, and, with virus transmissions linked to Christmas gatherings yet to manifest, public health officials say the worst is yet to come.

“We won’t know it for a while, but we will feel it in our homes, in our ICU units and in our morgues,” Garcetti said. “Please do not let us have a third surge that we simply cannot take here in Los Angeles as a result of our New Year.”

The mayor said the Los Angeles Police Department will deploy significant patrolling Thursday to enforce the public health rules that prohibit large gatherings or “super-spreader” events.

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“We will be out there in force on New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power disconnected utilities for a “chronic party house” in the Hollywood Hills, Garcetti said, and City Atty. Mike Feuer has asked the event website Eventbrite to take down invitations to parties on New Year’s Eve.

One county eatery, Beverly Hills’ La Scala, came under fire for promoting a “speakeasy” style indoor dining gathering on New Year’s Eve — a move it later walked back.

And on Wednesday night, police were on hand to “keep the peace” at a Christian singer’s gathering on skid row that was deemed a potential super-spreader event. Officer Drake Madison of the LAPD said Thursday that no arrests were made at the event.

Madison said New Year’s Eve should keep the department busy.

“It’s one of those nights we just need to make it through,” he said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has also targeted “the underground party scene,” announcing Wednesday that it had made 235 arrests at super-spreader events throughout December.

“I have made it clear that we will seek out and take law enforcement action against all super-spreader events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said in a statement. “The goal of these enforcement actions is to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the risk to our vulnerable populations.”

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In Los Angeles County, 1 in 5 are now testing positive for COVID-19, Garcetti said Wednesday — the same day that 7,546 people were hospitalized, the highest number since the start of the pandemic.

“My message couldn’t be clearer,” the mayor said. “Do not get together with others on New Year’s Eve. Do not host or attend a party in person. Do not travel. Celebrate virtually, stay home and welcome the New Year with people in your household and no one else.”

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