Los Angeles issues three-week stay-home order as coronavirus surges

Los Angeles County to implement stricter lockdown measures amid surge in coronavirus cases

Almost all social gatherings of individuals from more than a single household will be banned in Los Angeles County for at least three weeks starting Monday under new restrictions local health officials unveiled on Friday, citing a continued surge in COVID-19 infections.

The order, which takes effect Monday and will last until at least December 21, exempts church services and protests, which county health officials said are constitutionally protected.

There are 1,893 people with COVID-19 now hospitalized and 24% of these people are in the ICU. While the order encourages residents to wear a mask and limit their appearances in public, it also bars them from gathering with non-household members, even in private settings.

"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", Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, reports NPR.

Businesses already are operating under a recently-imposed nighttime curfew that covers much of the state, as are restaurants, which were recently barred from offering in-person dining.

Most businesses will remain open, but with reduced maximum occupancy. In those cases, schools would be required to shut down for two weeks.

Golf courses, tennis courts, pickleball, archery ranges, skate parks, bike parks, and community gardens remain open for individuals or members of a single household. Restaurants, wineries and breweries remain open for pick-up, delivery, and take-out. Non-essential retail stores will have a maximum 20% capacity, with essential stores like grocery stores and pharmacies being kept to 35%.

"It is very important that if you are even mildly sick or think you were exposed to someone with COVID-19 that you stay home and away from other people, especially those at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from COVID-19, and consider being tested for COVID-19", health officials wrote in the announcement of the modified health order. Fortunately, the county has revised Claremont's total number of deaths back down to 10 after reporting on Tuesday that an addition person had died in the city.

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. "This is the estimate of people that are out and about and infecting others". They may know they're infected and not be isolating.

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. There were almost 2,000 people hospitalized for virus-related problems, almost a quarter of them in intensive care.

A health care worker is seen at a walk-up coronavirus testing site this week in San Fernando, Calif.

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