It’s not the “L” word. Los Angeles County is not going into a “lockdown” right now. However, the Los Angeles County Health Department will be taking additional action after the County experienced 4,544 new reported Covid-19 cases, 24 Covid-19-related deaths, and 1,893 Covid-19-related hospitalizations on Friday.
On November 27, the Los Angeles County Health Department announced a Los Angeles County Health Officer Order that will go into effect on Monday, November 30, 2020 and continue through December 20, 2020. If you notice, the acronym for this Order could be LACHOO. But it’s nothing to sneeze at because the Order is in response to what’s become an “alarming” situation:
To put the situation in perspective, Los Angeles County alone in one day has had over 412 times the number of new reported Covid-19 cases than all of Australia has had over the past 24 hours, according to the Australian government. And that’s just reported cases. Counting the number of reported cases is like counting the number of people who admit that they eat Nutella directly from the jar. Any reported count is likely an underestimate. Testing in the U.S. is still very haphazard. And people may be reluctant to reveal what they have actually done with Nutella.
Back on November 17, the County determined that if the five-day average of new Covid-19 cases were to move above 4,500 or the number of daily Covid-19 hospitalizations above 2,000, they would have to take additional action. Well, guess what? Just one Scaramucci later (which is 10 days later), that’s already happened with the five day average of new cases crossing the 4,5oo threshold. That’s why the Los Angeles County Health Department must feel the need, the need for speed, when it comes to taking action:
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The County has already suspended in-person dining for at least three weeks. That restriction started on Wednesday, November 25 at 10:00 p.m. So if you are in Los Angeles and want your pulled pork cake with flaming hot Cheetos and a mac and cheese crust, you are going to have to order take out or delivery. Some from the restaurant industry expressed on social media their displeasure with such measures. For example:
Umm, it’s highly unlikely that the Los Angeles County Health Department is trying to “destroy the restaurant industry in LA.” After all, how many people are really saying, “there are just too many places to eat. Yummy food really has to go?” The rationale behind suspending in-person dining is that people may not be maintaining social distancing and other Covid-19 precautions in such situations. In a press briefing last Monday, Los Angeles Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, cited statistics that “food and beverage establishments comprised roughly 41% of the 76 coronavirus-related citations issued in L.A. County during the first two weeks of November,” in the words of Danielle Leigh reporting on Wednesday for ABC7 News. It only takes a handful of such establishments not following Covid-19 precautions to further fuel the pandemic, like pouring gasoline on the fire that’s cooking your deep-fried butter.
Come Monday, even more restrictions will be in place. From November 30 through December 20, 2020, the County will prohibit all public and private gatherings with individuals who are not in your household. Therefore, it’s time to abandon your plans to celebrate Bathtub Party Day on December 5 with 500 of your closest friends. The exceptions to the gathering rule will be faith-based services and protests, which are protected by the U.S. Constitution.
This new Order will also require you to keep at least six feet apart from others at different businesses and recreation areas. Six feet apart is one Gosling, since Ryan Gosling, co-star of the movie La-La Land is about six feet tall. Keep in mind that this will need to be a lying Gosling, since a standing Gosling will be less than six feet in distance. You will also need to wear a face covering at such places. The face mask should cover both your mouth and nose because no one knows how much bad stuff could be coming out of your nose.
Additionally, the Order will set occupancy limits for various businesses. This is to keep the business locations empty enough to allow for adequate social distancing. Non-essential retail stores, indoor malls, personal care services, and libraries will not be allowed to have more people beyond 20% of their maximum occupancy. This limit will be higher for essential retail stores at 35%. Outdoor locations such as fitness centers, museums galleries, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, mini-golf, batting cages, and go-kart racing will have an even higher limit at 50%. That’s because the outdoors offers more ventilation.
If you want to go to a beach, trail, park, golf course, tennis court, pickleball court, archery range, skate park, bike park, or a community garden, you’ll still be able to do so. Such places will remain open. However, if you want to take on your nemeses down the street in a pickleball grudge match, save it for another time. Instead, taunt each other on Zoom with intimidating Sesame Street backgrounds. Gatherings at such places will be limited to those within your household.
Swimming pools can remain open as long as they provide only regulated lap swimming with no more than a single person per lane. In this case, “single” means “one” and has nothing to do with your dating or marital status. A swimming lane is not eHarmony.com. Requiring you to be romantically unattached to swim in a particular lane would be kind of weird.
The County will continue to allow events for people in cars such as drive-in movies and car parades. The caveat will be that everyone in each car has to be from the same household. Thus, if you are sitting in your car and wondering who that person is in the back seat, consider stopping the car and asking the person to get out, as Arnold Schwarzenegger did in The Terminator. Of course, if you know the person but he or she is not from your household, you may want to add the word “please.”
All K through 12 schools and day camps will remain open, which is probably good news if you don’t want your kids to cut your hair while you are on Zoom business call. However, if an outbreak occurs in a school of day camp, then things there will need to shut down for at least 14 days. An outbreak would be three or more Covid-19 cases within 14 days,
All playgrounds, except for those at schools and other childcare locations, will have to close. So will cardrooms. The Order didn’t specify what might happen to cardrooms at K-12 schools and childcare locations though, if such cardrooms do exist.
In addition to these safety measures, the Health Department is encouraging everyone to stay home as much as possible and always wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are outside their household and around other people.
Keep in mind that all of this will be in place because the Covid-19 coronavirus is continuing to spread in Los Angeles and throughout much of the U.S. The U.S. has not been able to control the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV2) as other countries like Taiwan, South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia have. It’s time to face the facts. If people don’t wear face masks when they should, don’t maintain social distancing, and don’t follow other public health recommendations and the national government doesn’t implement a more coordinated strategy to control the spread of the virus, what’s happening in Los Angeles will occur elsewhere.
That’s not all. More and more restrictions will be necessary. If you want to avoid a lockdown, do something about slowing the spread of the virus. After all, doing nothing to stop the virus may be OK in “la la land,” but it’s not OK in a real place, like Los Angeles.