Coronavirus

Coronavirus surge has LA on the brink of a stay-home order

A swell of new cases put the county over a five-day average of 4,500 cases per day.

Esmeralda Elizalde checks in for her flight to Mexico at the Los Angeles International Airport in Los Angeles, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The nation’s largest county was on the brink of a stay-home order after a surge of coronavirus cases Monday surpassed a level set by Los Angeles public health officials to trigger such an action.

A swell of new cases put the county over a five-day average of 4,500 cases per day, but Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said no action would be taken until county supervisors meet Tuesday.

If the county orders residents to say home, it would be the first such action since mid-March when Gov. Gavin Newsom followed several counties and issued a statewide order that closed schools and severely restricted movement, except for essential workers or to buy groceries or pick up food.

Cases and hospitalizations have been rapidly rising across California in November. The state recorded its highest day of positive test results Saturday with more than 15,000. It had more than 14,000 cases Sunday. Hospitalizations have increased 77% over the past two weeks.

In Los Angeles, the county of 10 million residents has had a disproportionately large share of the state’s cases and deaths. Although it accounts for a quarter of the state’s 40 million residents, it has about a third of the cases and more than a third of the deaths.

The rate of increase in cases in LA has taken public health officials by surprise. A week ago, Ferrer said she was hopeful the county wouldn’t hit an average of 4,000 cases until early December. The rapid rise has outpaced a troubling summer surge when average cases increased 43%, Ferrer said.

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“From October 31 through November 13, average daily cases increased 108% — which is a much more rapid surge in cases than what we saw in the summer,” she said.

But it passed that threshold on Sunday, triggering an order shutting down restaurant dining that takes effect Wednesday at 10 p.m. and further cripples an industry that has been reeling from the virus.

If another stay-home order is issued, it could create a conflict for those who planned to get together for Thanksgiving. Officials have been urging people not to meet with more than two other households and to celebrate outside following physical distancing rules.

Newsom on Monday said gathering at Thanksgiving is risky and Ferrer went a step further. She urged people to only gather with members of their household.

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