Los Angeles County will once again prohibit dining at restaurants and bars beginning Wednesday, as the recent spike in COVID- 9 has brought the five-day average of new cases to more than 4,000, health officials said Sunday.
To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for coronavirus exposures in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings, the county’s Health Officer Order will be modified so that restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer take-out, drive thru, and delivery services.
The order will apply for a minimum of three weeks.
Officials warned of the possibility of such measures last week, as new cases and hospitalizations continued to surge in Los Angeles County and statewide. They follow a state-mandated overnight curfew that went into effect Saturday prohibiting all “non-essential work, movement and gatherings” between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., continuing until the morning of Dec. 21.
On Sunday, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 2,718 new cases of COVID-19 and nine additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 364,520 cases and 7,438 fatalities. The previous three days had each seen more than 4,000 cases reported, including a single-day record of 5,031 cases on Thursday.
If the county’s five-day average of cases grows to 4,500 or more or hospitalizations are more than 2,000 per day, a new Safer at Home Order will be issued for three weeks, the health department said. That order would not be a complete lockdown like happened in March when the pandemic began, but officials have not said exactly how far it will go.
West Hollywood reported 9 new cases for a cumulative total of 877 cases. The city has recorded a total of eight deaths since the pandemic began.
The number of county residents hospitalized with the virus increased from 1,391 Saturday to 1,401, with 26% in intensive care. That’s more than double the daily number in the beginning of October, when it was under 700.
Officials fear that as the number of cases rise, hospitalizations will rise as well, eventually overwhelming hospitals to the point where they may not have the capacity to treat everyone who is sick.
The department reminded everyone to stay home as much as possible for the next two to three weeks to change the trajectory of surging cases and save lives, and repeated its advice that people not travel for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
“As we modify our Thanksgiving holiday celebrations, we are reminded of the many families who will miss their loved ones who have passed away from COVID-19. We send wishes for healing and peace,” County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said. “The persistent high number of cases requires additional safety measures that limit mixing in settings where people are not wearing masks.”
While the restaurant closures are mandated by LA County officials, the overnight curfew that went into effect on Saturday was initiated by state officials.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, California’s Health and Human Services secretary, said the state’s order was not a hard curfew, indicating that people can still go outside of their homes, but they just shouldn’t gather with others. He noted that he still plans to take his dog on its normal 11 p.m. walk.