Travelers wearing masks and protective clothing prepare to head to their gate at Terminal 2 at LAX. Gov. Gavin Newsom is urging Californians to restrict travel. With coronavirus again surging across California, officials are faced with a narrowing number of options to slow the spread.
Weekly coronavirus cases have doubled in the last month around the state, and Los Angeles County recorded more than 6,800 cases over the weekend, an alarming spike that has officials talking about more restrictions.
The most immediate concern is the Thanksgiving holiday, which officials fear could spread the illness further if people take part in gatherings. But beyond that, officials are trying to balance the necessity of combating this latest spike with their desire to minimize further closures of businesses — already devastated by the pandemic — or to slow their reopening.
Here is a look at what officials are doing, and what’s coming: Travel quarantine
California officials are urging those who head out of state to self-quarantine for 14 days when they return.
Though officials were quick to point out that the state travel advisory issued Friday was just that — “it isn’t a ban; it isn’t a restriction,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said — they hope that residents take the guidance to heart.
“We’re encouraging Californians to stay close to home,” Ghaly said, “to avoid nonessential travel to other states, other countries and, frankly, across the state if that’s avoidable.”
The advisory, which Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in conjunction with his counterparts in Oregon and Washington, also asks those who arrive in California from another state or country self-quarantine for 14 days.
Essential travel, as defined by the advisory, is “for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care and safety and security,” according to Newsom’s office. Curfew
One idea Los Angeles County officials have discussed is a curfew of some type designed to limit the time businesses are open and people are “mingling.” New York imposed a curfew last week on restaurants and bars beginning at 10 p.m. Only takeout orders are allowed after that.
Barbara Ferrer, L.A. County’s public health director, said two local possibilities were a curfew or a limitation on businesses’ hours of operation.
“I think it makes sense to do everything we can to encourage people not to be out and about, not to be mingling with others,” she said. “And if we can’t make those choices ourselves, you’re forced to sort of look at, structurally, how do you make it harder for people to intermingle, particularly in activities where we know there’s going to be spread.”
Added Supervisor Sheila Kuehl: “After people drink for a while, perhaps they lose inhibition and judgment, and so possibly a curfew might help. But we would have to see if it worked in other jurisdictions. That might help us keep our businesses open so long as they are perfectly compliant.” Reducing occupancy levels
Los Angeles County is examining other options as well.
Among them: reducing occupancy levels at sites where people are indoors; dedicating more resources to ensuring businesses follow public health orders; and encouraging certain safety measures, such as telling everyone who can work from home to go back to doing so, Ferrer said. Another lockdown?
Officials are trying to avoid a repeat of the lockdown California experienced in the spring.On Friday, Ghaly said the state was “not looking, today, at a statewide stay-at-home order.”“All of that said,” he added, “this is a quickly, rapidly evolving situation, and we will do whatever it takes to make sure that we appropriately protect the public health of California.”Reopening businesses […]