On Saturday, November 28, 2020, Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer reported an unexpected and enormous surge of COVID-19 infections, more than 2,000 hospitalized, and a race to knock down the increases before hospitals become overwhelmed, putting Los Angeles at Threat Level Red: Extreme Risk. Dr. Ferrer released revised Los Angeles County Health Officer Orders, which can be found below.
While public health officials asked that people limit their Thanksgiving celebrations, the media reported a huge uptick in travelers for the Thanksgiving holiday and a proliferation of large, indoor dinner celebrations. A correlated enormous surge in COVID-19 infections is expected in the coming weeks, which could then be followed by another surge from similar December travel and holiday celebrations.
While LA County’s hospitals were at approximately 75% capacity as of Saturday and the hospitals believe they are adequately resourced, if the steep rise in overall cases continues along its current trajectory, they will likely run out of beds in two to four weeks, beginning with the least-resourced facilities. A bed shortage also impacts the treatment of patients with all other serious and potentially fatal illnesses and accidents, including heart attacks and strokes. Hospitals seem to have the resources they need at this time but I am still very concerned that the latest Thanksgiving surge could be only the beginning of an increasing wave of spread throughout the holiday season that could put all of us in a terrible position in the new year.
That is why this week I will be introducing a motion asking the Emergency Management Department to work with the Los Angeles County Department of Health and report back to the full Council immediately on an emergency implementation plan to manage a potential shortage of hospital beds, medical professionals and Personal Protective Equipment due to the ongoing and tragic COVID-19 spike. And in the very worst-case scenarios, so that they can be averted with strong action. I also ask that our relevant City departments streamline all permitting necessary for any temporary emergency medical facilities to address the COVID surge, including street closures, erection of tents, and use of lots.
Similarly, I introduced a motion last week to take a very serious look at the plans for the acceptance and distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine. Many of the concerns to be addressed will include the need for ultra-cold storage for some of the vaccines; factors around the administration of the vaccines such as who will give the shot, who will get the shot and in what priority, and how to ensure the public will return for the second shot/vaccination; and getting educational material to the public about why and how to take the vaccine. The purpose of this motion is to begin the conversation to strategize these sorts of implementations rather than wait for the vaccine to arrive without a plan.
Finally, last week the City Council voted to allow restaurants to continue outdoor dining service and the County voted outdoor dining shut down Wednesday evening (while allowing continued take out and delivery services). While I am a strong advocate for implementing the safest social distance protocols and for limiting the spread by clamping down on unnecessary gatherings, I believe that many of our local restaurants have worked very hard, reinvesting infrastructure and finances into their businesses to accommodate the new Al Fresco requirements in order to stay open, keep staff and serve customers. Also as information changes about safety protocols, we ought to offer the restaurants a chance to get it right and to implement safety precautions rather than penalize and shut them down. Also, newer studies show that outdoor dining (meaning not under enclosed tents) is not a significant source of spread and I am greatly concerned that our local restaurants will not be able to withstand these latest restrictions and perhaps should be allowed to return to limited outdoor dining with stricter safety protocols as soon as possible.
Councilmember Paul Koretz, Fifth District
In the News
High Number of Daily Cases and Hospitalizations is Serious Cause for Concern: New Order Aims to Reduce Risk of Transmission
For Immediate Release:
November 28, 2020
Public Health Confirms 19 New Deaths and 3,143 New Positive Cases of COVID-19
With COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations surging, yesterday L.A. County announced additional safety modifications that will become effective on Monday, November 30, 2020 and remain in effect for three weeks through December 20, 2020.
The new temporary order aims to reduce the risk of transmission several ways, including by:
Asking individuals to remain in their homes and with their immediate households as much as possible;
Reducing mingling with others not in your household;
Requiring everyone to wear a face covering whenever they are engaging in activities outside their homes where they are, or can be, in contact with others not in their households;
Reducing capacity at sites where non-household members mingle to avoid crowding. Right now, the most important action we can all take to stop the surge is to stay home as much as possible. All public and private gatherings and events with individuals not from the same household are prohibited, except for faith-based services and protests. Residents are still permitted to travel to and from essential businesses, work or provide services to a healthcare operation or essential business; residents may also engage in essential activities, or participate in permitted individual or household outdoor and indoor activities while practicing required distancing, infection control and masking.
Restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries remain closed for in-person dining and drinking, as there is high risk of transmission of COVID-19 when people are eating, drinking and talking together without a face covering, as happens when people are dining onsite at restaurants. They are permitted to remain open for pick-up, delivery, and take-out and breweries and wineries may remain open for retail sales at 20% occupancy.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has confirmed 19 new deaths and 3,143 new cases of confirmed COVID-19. Today’s number has likely dropped because there was no community testing offered on Thursday, and limited testing yesterday. We will probably continue to see lower numbers through the early part of next week because testing was less available. This brings the total number of deaths of COVID-19 to 7,623 across all areas of L.A. County and 390,891 cumulative positive cases. There are 1,951 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19, and 25% of these people are in the ICU.
“To the many people across our communities who are spending this holiday weekend mourning the loss of a loved one, we are keeping you in our hearts and thoughts,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “The frustration this pandemic is causing is real and understandable. It is the holiday season and more than anything, we are longing to spend time with our friends and family. If we really care about each other, and we care about those essential workers taking risks every day to make sure we have food, water, healthcare, and needed services, we need to not gather with anyone not in our immediate household. With such a high amount of transmission in our community, gathering with individuals from outside your household, even outdoors, is not safe and puts everyone at risk because of the extended contact with others.”
Of the 19 new deaths reported today, eight people that passed away were over the age of 80 years old, six people who died were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, three people who died was between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, and two people who died was between the ages of 30 and 49 years old. Fifteen of the 19 deaths reported today were people with underlying health conditions, including seven people who were over the age of 80 years old, five people who were between the ages of 65 and 79 years old, one person between the ages of 50 and 64 years old, and two people between the ages of 30 and 49 years old.
Ninety-three percent of the people who died from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions. Of those who died, information about race and ethnicity is available for 7,196 people (99 percent of the cases reported by Public Health); 52% of deaths occurred among Latino/Latinx residents, 24% among White residents, 14% among Asian residents, 9% among African American/Black residents, less than 1% among Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander residents and 1% among residents identifying with other races. Upon further investigation, 45 cases reported earlier were not L.A. County residents.
Testing results are available for more than 3,695,000 individuals with 10% of all people testing positive.
The Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website.
Here to Serve
My office, like all City of Los Angeles offices, is following recommended protocols such as social distancing and working remotely to slow the spread of the coronavirus. That said, my staff and I are always readily available to help with your questions, concerns, and needs during this difficult period. We can be reached by phone at 213-473-7005, 323-866-1828 (West LA), or 818-971-3088 (Bel Air/ Encino) and through email firstname.lastname@example.org. Since we are experiencing a higher-than-normal volume of calls, feel free to email the staff member you wish to contact directly. The accompanying link contains those e-mail addresses.