Los Angeles County Starts New Stay-At-Home Order On Monday

by Erica Gerald Mason
Los Angeles County stay at home order
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In the midst of an upswing in new COVID-19 cases, L.A. County has placed one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the nation

Even with the promise of a vaccine for some Americans as quickly as December, public health officials worry about a skyrocketing number of new COVID-19 cases if people do not take proper precautions. This week, the number of new coronavirus cases in the United States reached more than 200,000 nationwide — a number of experts fear may surge even higher as a number of outlets didn’t report due to the Thanksgiving holiday. In Los Angeles County alone, more than 4,500 new cases were reported.

As the number of COVID-19 cases swiftly rises across the country, Los Angeles County announced a new stay-at-home order that aims to ease the burden on an already overworked healthcare system. The measure, called the “safer at home” order, takes effect on Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 20. The new plan followed an announcement that Los Angeles County would suspend outdoor dining at restaurants as the experiences a continued increase of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

The ordinance restricts all public and private gatherings with those who live outside of an individual’s home. The order does not, however, restrict faith-based services and protests, citing both as “constitutionally protected rights.” The county advises all residents to stay at home as much as possible and wear a mask when they leave their homes.

Additional measures include keeping the occupancy of nonessential retail stores, personal care services, and libraries at 20 percent; essential businesses like grocery stores can stay open with 35 percent maximum capacity. Businesses operating outdoors — including fitness centers, museum galleries, zoos, gardens, aquariums, batting cages, mini-golf, and go-kart racing — are all allowed 50 percent maximum occupancy.

The order keeps schools and daycares open as long as they adhere to reopening protocols. If facilities experience an outbreak of three or more cases over a two week period, then they are required to close for two weeks.

“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. “Acting with collective urgency right now is essential if we want to put a stop to this surge.”

Reactions to the new orders remain mixed, with some people taking to Twitter to voice their support — or frustration. Twitter user Michael J. Fell called the restrictions “tyrannical abuse,” while another decried mask mandates and shutdowns. Others praised the move.

Last week, Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, asked the Food and Drug Administration to grant an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine — medicine which has been found 95 percent effective in clinical trials. An additional vaccine from the biotech company Moderna is expected to be submitted for emergency authorization in the coming weeks.

Those first vaccines, however, are set aside for frontline healthcare workers and those most at risk such as the elderly.