USA News

L.A. County closer to new stay-home order as COVID cases hit new high


The specter of another significant shutdown is looming over Los Angeles County, which reported a new all-time high for daily cases on Monday: 6,124.

“While that does include some delayed test results from yesterday it’s still an impressive and alarming surge” said L.A. County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

While that total included 1,500 backlogged cases, officials said they were still concerned about the growing spike.


“We’re not confident that these numbers will decrease this week,” Ferrer said, noting that actions taken today will only result in changes in daily case counts in perhaps two to three weeks.With the virus spreading at a rate faster than at any prior point in the pandemic’s history, “it’s much easier for people to become infected,” Ferrer said.

Ferrer said between Nov. 7 to Nov. 20, there’s been a 61% increase in hospitalization, a pace of increase that “could potentially lead to overwhelming the healthcare system.”

The average number of new daily coronavirus cases over a five-day period reached 4,097 on Sunday, county health officials said — uncomfortably close to the 4,500 that would trigger a new three-week order permitting only essential workers and those procuring essential services to leave their homes.

Monday’s influx of reported infections was enough to push the county past that average. However, Ferrer did not immediately commit to implementing a stay-at-home order.

“We’ll be working with the Board [of Supervisors] to determine additional safety modifications,” she said.

Such a move would be the latest, and most drastic, step the county has taken as it scrambles to get arms around its most significant coronavirus surge yet. Given the severity of the current spike, L.A. County residents are already being urged to stay home as much as possible over the next few weeks.

Ferrer didn’t elaborate on what the potential new restrictions would look like, but said “for sure we’re not going back to all of the restrictions that were in place in the original Safer at Home order.”

“I think the question now that we’ll be working with the board on are exactly what additional measures need to be in there,” she said.

Though there may be a “very bright light at the end of this long tunnel,” given the recent promising news on vaccines, Ferrer said “we need to continue to ask of everyone — individuals and businesses — to own their part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 so that we can stop the surge in cases and ultimately get back to our recovery.”

With the five-day case average already topping 4,000, officials announced they will suspend outdoor dining starting at 10 p.m. Wednesday — delivering yet another body blow to the region’s already battered restaurant industry.

The new rules, though economically painful, “are necessary to address our rapid acceleration of cases and increase in hospitalizations,” according to L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis.

“Our healthcare workers are exhausted, our essential workers are severely impacted and, while our residents are as well, this is a critical juncture requiring decisive action and a steadfast commitment to safety because lives are at stake,” she said in a statement Monday morning. “With yesterday’s actions, I know our residents will once again slow the spread of COVID-19 and its destructive economic consequences.”

Supervisor Kathryn Barger disagreed, saying Monday that “these proposed measures by the Department of Public Health will further devastate local businesses and employees who have been asked to shoulder an unfair burden this year.”

County businesses “have invested thousands of dollars to ensure safety for their employees and customers only to be punished for the recent surge they have done everything in their power to prevent,” she said in a statement.

“Increased case counts are not coming from businesses reopening, but from large gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks,” she said. “We aren’t helpless in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and can protect ourselves and our neighbors by maintaining physical distancing and wearing face coverings.”

L.A. County is far from alone in contending with a ferocious surge in new coronavirus cases or debating how best to turn back the tide.

California’s average daily number of new cases has skyrocketed lately, tripling in just the last month, according to a Times analysis.

As of Saturday night, California was averaging more than 11,500 new coronavirus cases a day over the last seven days, an unprecedented figure.

Though some of that could be attributed to upticks in testing, officials say the percentage of those testing positive has also increased. Over the past seven days, the statewide positivity rate was 5.8%, almost doubling from the start of the month.

State officials have previously said that roughly 12% of those testing positive will end up in hospitals in two to three weeks. A sustained surge in cases, they warn, could create an unmanageable wave of patients that overwhelms the healthcare system.

The number of COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide was 5,459 as of Sunday, up roughly 82% from two weeks prior. Coronavirus-related intensive care admissions rose 59% over the same period, to 1,333, according to the latest state data.

The state has averaged 66 daily COVID-19 deaths over the last week. Overall, more than 18,700 Californians have died throughout the course of the pandemic.

Faced with the crush of new cases, state officials last week announced a new order prohibiting most nonessential activity outside the home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in counties that are in the strictest “purple” tier of the state’s color-coded reopening road map.

Roughly 94% of Californians — including all those in the southern third of the state — are subject to that order.

Public policy is only one part of the equation, though. Another, perhaps more important facet is whether residents make the personal decisions that officials say will help protect themselves and their loved ones.

Experts have long maintained that residents can do their part to curb transmission of the virus by wearing masks in public, regularly washing their hands and staying home when sick, as well as physical distancing and avoiding social gatherings.

“If we act today, two weeks from now we should be able to see a start in slowing the spread,” Ferrer said during a briefing Friday. “If we don’t, I fear that we’re going to continue to experience higher case counts, more people passing away from COVID-19 and a stressed-out healthcare system.”

Times staff writer Jaclyn Cosgrove contributed to this report.

Latest US Breaking News & World News Today More Updates

News Today || News Headlines || World || Canada || Health || Technology News || UK News


Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button