Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus
A new stay-at-home order took effect Monday in Los Angeles as confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the most populous county in the United States exceeded 400,000.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported 5,150 new cases of COVID-19 and 17 new deaths in a daily release, bringing the metropolitan area's count to 400,919 cases and death toll to 7,655. Los Angeles county is home to 10 million people.
Public health officials said the latest daily count "is far higher than the County's peak number of daily cases during the summer surge, which averaged 2,950 cases on July 14."
There are 2,185 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized in the county, with 24 percent in the ICU. This is more than two times the average seen on Nov. 13 when the daily number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 was 974, according to the department.
The department said it remains concerned not only about the people suffering from COVID-19, but about how increasing hospitalizations could overwhelm the healthcare system.
Officials noted that although the county has adequate capacity at hospitals and extensive plans in place to manage the increases, a continued surge in cases and hospitalizations is not sustainable.
Officials said it's very possible that within a week, the county will see the daily number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 near 2,500.
Los Angeles County public health director Barbara Ferrer warned the county is "at the most difficult moment time in the pandemic."
"The alarming increases in cases that we continue to witness is not due to random events out of our control -- many of these cases could have been prevented if individuals and businesses were following the straightforward public health measures of masking, distancing and infection control," said Ferrer in the daily release.
"As we are all seeing, when even relatively small numbers of businesses and individuals fail to adhere to sensible precautions, many others experience the consequences of these lapses," she added.
The situation is worsening countywide, statewide and nationwide as officials struggle to handle a new COVID-19 wave in the United States.
The latest three-week order bans all public and private gatherings of people from different households, exempting religious services and protest. It urges people to stay home as much as possible and requires everyone 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 household.
The new order also sets new occupancy limits on various businesses. Essential retail is now set at 35 percent maximum occupancy while non-essential retail, personal care services and libraries are set at 20 percent maximum occupancy. Fitness centers operating outdoors, museums, galleries, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens operating outdoors, mini-golf, batting cages and go-kart racing operating outdoors are now required to keep their occupancy at 50 percent.
Golf courses, tennis courts, pickleball, archery ranges, skate parks, bike parks, and community gardens remain open for individuals or members of a single household. Beaches, trails, and parks remain open, but gatherings at these sites with members outside a single household are prohibited.
Drive-in movies, events and car parades are also permitted provided occupants in each car are members of one household.
"Until there is a vaccine, each of us needs to protect all of those around us, both those we know and those we don't. The virus is running rampant through almost every part of our county and our most sensible course of action is to make sure that everyone is always masked when they are around any others outside their household," noted Ferrer.
"COVID-19 cases are surging and we must take urgent action to flatten the curve now," tweeted Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday.
"We're asking all Angelenos not to gather with anyone outside your household and limit any non-essential activities. If you do go out, wear your mask and practice physical distancing," he added.