Los Angeles County is on the brink of ordering new restrictions to combat the rising coronavirus cases, but the latest proposal made by the Health Department won't bring the area to a complete lockdown.
Health officials presented their recommendations for a future stay-at-home order during a meeting with county supervisors Tuesday, though the LA County Board of Supervisors has not moved forward with the "Safer at Home" order as of Wednesday afternoon.
The county set a threshold of a five-day case average of 4,500 or higher for a stay-at-home order to go into effect. On Monday, the county surpassed that threshold, but on Tuesday, the average was around 4,200, according to the Health Department.
LA County health officials said a new "Safer at Home" order would not be as restrictive as the one issued in March that closed schools and barred travel outside a household, except for groceries.
Their new recommendations include a ban of all public and private gatherings involving people not in the same household, except for outdoor church services and outdoor protests, and a 50% capacity requirement at outdoor retail stores.
The Health Department also recommended a 35% capacity for essential indoor businesses and a 20% capacity for non-essential indoor businesses. Under the recommended order, shoppers, employees and people who attend permitted gatherings would be required to wear face masks, according to the Health Department.
Outdoor parks, beaches and trails will remain open, and outdoor recreation will be permitted as long as residents practice social distancing and wear a mask, the department said.
"I know for sure we're not going back to all of the restrictions that were in place in the original Safer At Home order,'' LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told reporters during a conference call Tuesday.
The Health Department recommendations come as both LA and California continue to see spikes in cases and pressure on its health care providers. On Wednesday, Los Angeles reported 4,311 new cases and 49 new deaths.
Los Angeles County surpassed the county that encompasses Brooklyn, New York, as the county with the most COVID-19 fatalities in the country, with 7,543 total deaths, according to the Health Department and John Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center.
Health officials said Wednesday during a virtual news conference that one out of every 145 Los Angeles County residents is currently infectious, and they are expecting shortages in hospital beds, including ICU beds, in the next two to four weeks.
Dr. Christina Ghaly, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, said there will likely be a doubling of cases every two weeks, possibly even tripling.
Despite holding off on a full stay-at-home order, county supervisors have proceeded with a plan to prohibit in-person dining. Eateries and bars will be able to offer take-out options, but they cannot serve customers either indoors or outdoors for the next three weeks, according to the order.
“From Oct. 31 to Nov. 14, outbreaks at food facilities have increased by 200%," Dr. Muntu Davis, the LA County Public Health Officer, said during the news conference.
County business leaders, including the Chambers of Commerce for West Hollywood and Culver City, also held a news conference Wednesday to denounce the move. They warned they may have to make tough decisions.
"On the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday, our businesses may have to lay off hundreds, if not collectively thousands of employees," Genevieve Morrill, president and CEO of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said.
The business leaders called on the county and state to consider long-term solutions that would not harm their operations and asked for a COVID-19 emergency business interruption fund to offset their losses.
"Just checking the boxes off to show the public that you’re doing something is not enough," Morrill said.