“My message couldn’t be simpler: it’s time to hunker down. It’s time to cancel everything. And if it isn’t essential, don’t do it. Don’t meet up with others outside your household. Don’t host a gathering. Don’t attend a gathering. And following our targeted Safer at Home order, if you’re able to stay home, stay home. Just be smart – stay apart.”
— LA Mayor Eric Garcetti, December 2, 2020
Saying that Los Angeles is “now close to a devastating tipping point, beyond which the number of hospitalized patients would start to overwhelm our hospital system, in turn risking needless suffering and death,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last night issued an updated Targeted Safer at Home Order, declaring that “all persons living within the City of Los Angeles are hereby ordered to remain in their homes.”
While that sounds pretty dire, however, the order is mostly targeted at keeping individuals from different households from gathering, and does include a lengthy list of exceptions, including homeless individuals, various essential businesses and activities, certain educational facilities and activities, restaurant takeout and delivery service, childcare, legal and professional services, retail stores, and more.
Also, many – if not most – outdoor activities are still deemed essential to personal well-being, and are allowed “without limitation,” including walking, running, skating, and scootering…as long as social distancing is maintained. The further list of allowed outdoor activity includes worship services and protests (with face coverings and social distancing), recreation at parks, use of trails and beaches (individually or with members of one’s own household only), youth sports leagues, golf, tennis, pickleball, and more.
Among our Larchmont-area businesses, the following may also continue their business activities to at least some degree, as long as they follow LA County guidelines for face coverings, distancing and other specifics:
- Restaurants (takeout and delivery service only)
- Grocery stores, convenience stores, and other food retailers
- Farmers Markets (with approval from the Bureau of Street Services)
- Gas stations, car repair, and bike shops
- Banks and credit unions
- Hardware stores and nurseries
- Gardeners, plumbers, carpenters, handymen, electricians, exterminators and other such home service providers
- Real estate showings (of empty units, by appointment, with some other restrictions)
- Postal, shipping and mailbox stores
- Laundromats and dry cleaners
- Home-based caregivers
- Childcare facilities (subject to certain restrictions)
- Retail stores (at 20% indoor capacity, with curbside pickup still allowed)
- Personal care establishments (at 20% indoor capacity)
That said, however, the order also includes stern language for enforcement, declaring that “Failure to comply…shall constitute a misdemeanor subject to fines and imprisonment.” And it further requests that LAPD and the City Attorney “vigorously enforce” the provisions, noting that “Individuals, businesses, and properties which fail to comply…may be subject to having their utility services shut off by the Department of Water and Power.”
At the same time, though, Garcetti, in the order, also supports business owners in enforcing safety rules on their premises: “Business owners and operators are authorized to refuse service to any individual who fails to wear a face covering and I strongly encourage business owners/operators to do so.”
The full text of the new order is available at https://www.lamayor.org/sites/g/files/wph446/f/page/file/20201202%20Mayor%20Public%20Order%20Targeted%20SAH%20Order%20Updated.pdf
In his announcement last night, Garcetti noted that daily infections in Los Angeles County have tripled in the last month, but even more troubling, “hospitalizations have also tripled, and are at new peak, and deaths have nearly doubled and continue to rise.”
He also noted that the current numbers, as alarming as they are, do not yet include the anticipated effects of the recent Thanksgiving weekend, during which many people traveled and gathered with family and friends from outside their own households.
In light of the rapidly rising numbers, Garcetti quoted Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the CDC, “who said that the next three months are going to be the most difficult in the public health history of this nation, because of the stress that is going to be put on our health care system.” But his warnings for Los Angeles were even more dire. Noting that Los Angeles has fewer hospital beds per capita than many other cities, and only 479 beds left as of yesterday, he said that if the numbers continue to rise at the current rates, “the County predicts that we will run out of hospital beds, here in Los Angeles, by Christmastime.” And that includes all hospital beds, for all illnesses or conditions, and not just those for people suffering from COVID-19.
Garcetti said that if that does happen, hospitals may be able to increase their numbers of beds, but even if they do, “there simply are not enough health care workers in California to cover the shifts.” Also, he noted, infections of health care workers are up 71% in the last few weeks, which further limits available caregivers.
On the other hand, Garcetti did note that the infection rate – the number of people who are newly infected by each currently infected person – has gone down slightly, from 1.27 to 1.14, in the last few days, which is a good sign. “I hope it’s a reflection of the hard work we’ve all been doing in the last few weeks,” he said.
Garcetti said that because the virus is airborne, and spreads from person to person at distances of less than six feet, the only way to stop it is to keep our distance from one another. “Staying apart, hunkering down…that’s how we’re going to reduce transmission,” he said. “It’s that simple.”
“It’s as much what you choose not to do as what you do do that will determine what happens here in our beloved home town,” he continued. “The choices here are stark – between health and sickness, between care and apathy, and, yes, between life and death for too many of the people we love.”
Garcetti also noted that current death rates are also rising, and that because death rates lag several weeks behind infection and hospitalization rates, they’re also likely to go up quickly in the next few weeks. And the coming holidays pose an even greater threat. “What we may see in the coming weeks is something that Dr. Fauci called “a surge upon a surge upon a surge,”” Garcetti said. “A December wave on top of a Thanksgiving wave, that’s followed by a Christmas wave. We can’t let that happen.”
Finally, in addition to staying home and avoiding gatherings as much as possible, Garcett said, it’s also important to “know your status,” get tested as often as you need to, and isolate immediately if you have any symptoms of the virus. LA County is also helping with this, he said, with recent increases in the number of testing sites, mobile testing facilities, shorter wait times at testing sites, and quicker turnaround times for results – now averaging just 24 hours. (For more information on testing sites and procedures, see https://corona-virus.la/covid-19-testing.)
“The stakes have never been higher,” Garcetti said. “The situation has never been more dire…We are staring at the face of tragedy. Of loss. The valley of death that is in front of us. And yet we can get through it together.”
[Editor’s note: there appear to be two versions of yesterday’s Safer at Home order posted by the city: one that uses stricter, and perhaps less clear, language, and which was quoted in early stories by the LA Times and the Hollywood Reporter…and one with the word “updated” in the address, which seems to contain slightly clearer and seemingly less restrictive language (especially on the matter of personal transport and exercise), which is now linked to from the Los Angeles city page for COVID-19. This “updated” version is the one we refer to and quote from in this story.]