This weekend’s COVID-19 news was grim, with 10,528 new cases reported in LA County yesterday, shattering all previous records. Hospitalizations and test positivity rates also continued to soar.
In related news, and because the availability of ICU beds in the Southern California region fell below 15% on Friday, California Governor Gavin Newsom’s new regional Stay at Home order kicked in at 12:59 p.m. Saturday night…and LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner announced this morning that LAUSD campuses will be closing to all students again, starting on Thursday, December 10.
According to Newsom’s order for Southern California, all retail stores (both essential and non-essential) are now limited to 20% capacity, and personal services businesses (hair and nail salons, etc.) are once again closed. Other provisions of the order (including restaurants open for takeout and delivery only) are much the same as those already in effect for the city of Los Angeles via an updated Safer at Home order from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti last week.
In this morning’s announcement from LAUSD, Beutner said school campuses will once again cease all in-person instruction, including special education, in-person tutoring, and sports conditioning activities. No students will be allowed on campus for the rest of the current semester. All LAUSD employees who can do so are also being encouraged to work from home as much as they can for the rest of the semester. (According to Newsom’s statewide order, schools that have been open up to this point are allowed to remain open, but LAUSD’s order supersedes the state order for our local public schools. Local private schools with waivers for in-person instruction are so far still allowed to continue that activity.)
“Because of the dangerous levels of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles area, it’s no longer safe to have any students on campus. We’re also asking those currently working on campus, if it’s at all possible, to work from home for the rest of the semester.”
— LAUSD Superindendent Austin Beutner, 12/7/20
In his address, Beutner acknowledged that disadvantaged families are struggling most during the pandemic, and that they desperately need children to return to school. But given the current surge, he said, “schools in Los Angeles can’t consider reopening until the spread of the virus is at much lower and safer levels.”
At the same time, however, Beutner said officials are working hard to prepare for the eventual re-opening, and are working on what amounts to a new “Marshall Plan” to help the district recover when it’s safe to return. For this to succeed, though, Beutner said schools will need a lot of help from governments at all levels. “The time for action is now,” he said, urging the federal government, in particular, to provide help in the following areas:
In the meantime, Beutner said LAUSD’s food distribution efforts – which have provided more than 85 million meals to district students and families so far – will continue…as will its on-campus COVID-19 testing program. Beutner said the testing program, in particular, helps keeps families safer and also provides valuable health information to the district.
Beutner’s video address from this morning is available here. The full text of his official announcement is available here.
Finally, it’s important to note that, as we would expect, our local neighborhoods are in no way immune to the current surge. Here are case counts for our local neighborhoods over the last four weeks, showing the biggest week-to-week jumps, by far, in most areas over the last seven-day period (click on the graphic to see a larger version):
[Note: data for this chart comes from the LA County COVID-19 Dashboard. In addition to numbers from areas closest to our Larchmont Buzz readership area, the Dashboard also includes data for other LA County neighborhoods, as well as neighborhood maps and boundaries as defined by the County (NOT our local neighborhoods’ self-definitions). To find your own neighborhood’s boundaries, as defined by LA County, or to see data from other LA neighborhoods, see the link above.
* Country Club Park, as defined by LA County, also includes most of Fremont Place, Windsor Village and Wilshire Park.
** LA County’s boundaries for Hancock Park also include most of Windsor Square, except the area bounded by Wilshire Blvd., S. Wilton Pl., W. Third St. and S. Western Ave., which is part of Wilshire Center.
*** The Melrose community, as defined by LA County, is bounded roughly, with some deviations, by Beverly Blvd., Normandie Ave., Santa Monica Blvd., and La Cienega Blvd. (so this also includes much of what we know as the Larchmont and South Hollywood residential areas).]