LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles County health officials have reported more 4,544 new COVID-19 cases and 24 more deaths Friday, as new safety orders, including a stay-at-home order, are set to go into effect as a result.
The new measures will go into effect on Monday and remain until December 20, according to Los Angeles County Public Health. Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when outside their household and around others.
The additional safety modifications in the order include the following changes to the existing Health Officer Order:
-- Gatherings: all public and private gatherings with individuals not in your household are prohibited, except for church services and protests, which are constitutionally protected rights.
-- Occupancy limits at various businesses; all individuals at these sites are required to wear face coverings and keep at least 6 feet of distance:
-- 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 all which require face coverings (except for swimming) and distancing: Beaches, trails and parks remain open; gatherings at these sites with members outside your household are prohibited. Golf courses, tennis courts, pickleball, archery ranges, skate parks, bike parks and community gardens remain open for individuals or members of a single household. Pools that serve more than one household may open only for regulated lap swimming with one person per lane. Drive-in movies/events/car parades are permitted provided occupants in each car are members of one household.
-- Schools: All schools and day camps remain open adhering to reopening protocols. K-12 Schools and Day Camps with an outbreak (3 cases or more over 14 days) should close for 14 days.
-- Closed nonessential businesses/activities:
-- Playgrounds (with the exception of playgrounds at childcare and schools;
-- Restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries remain closed for in- person dining and drinking because of the high rates of transmission in the community, as customers are not wearing face coverings, which results in an increased chance of transmission of the virus. Restaurants, wineries and breweries remain open for pick-up, delivery and take-out. Breweries and wineries remain open for retail sales at 20% occupancy.
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.
"To those who recently lost loved ones from COVID-19, we send you wishes for healing and peace," said Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health. "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.
"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. We know we are asking a lot from so many who have been sacrificing for months on end and we hope that L.A. County residents continue following Public Health safety measures that we know can slow the spread.
"Acting with collective urgency right now is essential if we want to put a stop to this surge. Please remain home as much as possible and do not gather with others not in your household for the next three weeks."
On Wednesday, county Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis explained that the situation was getting worse each day.
"We continue to be at a very difficult time in this pandemic, as is so much of the United States," Davis said.
According to current county estimates, every COVID-19 patient in the county is passing the virus to an average of 1.27 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.
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.