LA County, City issue new orders stopping nonessential activities until April 19


RESIDENTS in Los Angeles County can still go to the grocery store, pick up takeout orders at restaurants or go on hikes with proper social distancing, but trips to the shopping mall or other nonessential retail businesses will be prohibited for the next 30 days.

LA County officials and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti issued new “Safer at Home” emergency orders on Thursday night, March 19, in a more extended effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

The orders, which took effect at midnight, will remain in place until April 19 and is subject to extension.

In the city of Los Angeles, the mayor said the additional measures are a “new way of living,” acknowledging the progress that has been made following his announcement last Sunday that included taking out in-dining options at restaurants and closing bars, gyms, and other public gathering spaces.

“We are all safer at home. Staying in our residences, being aggressive about hygiene, and practicing safe social distancing are the most effective ways to protect ourselves, the people we love, and everyone in our community,” he said. “Each one of us is a first-responder in this crisis, and Angelenos understand that we have to make big sacrifices right now to save lives. This isn’t forever — and we’ll get through it together.”

The order calls for city residents to remain in their homes, and establishments — such as clothing and other nonessential retail stores — that were not covered in the mayor’s previous announcement on Sunday should “cease operations that require in-person attendance by workers at a workplace.”

“It is against the law to violate this order, and you may be punished by a fine or imprisonment for doing so,” the order reads.

Essential activities that require leaving one’s residence are permitted, such as reporting to a job that is considered essential, going to the grocery store, pharmacy, medical appointments, and restaurants for take-out, delivery or drive-thru, for example. Exercising and walking pets outside are also allowed so long as individuals keep at least a six-foot distance.

AJPress graphic by Kendrick Tan

Services like police stations, utilities and public transportation will continue to operate, as well as a long list of businesses deemed essential — e.g. medical providers, restaurants, financial institutions and laundromats.

Meanwhile, LA County issued its own “Safer at Home” guidelines, which direct its over 10 million residents to refrain from gathering in an enclosed space with more than 10 people and similarly instructs nonessential retail businesses to close temporarily.

Like the city of LA, violators of the order can be punished by fines or imprisonment. However, the two orders deviate in that the county does not require residents to remain in their homes.

“This is the next step in protecting our communities from the coronavirus and will have invaluable long-term effects,” Supervisor Kathryn Barger said on Thursday. “This order will increase social distancing while still enabling residents to shop for essential items at the market, pharmacy, and hardware store, and still be able to visit the bank or gas station.”

The cities of Long Beach and Pasadena also have their own orders similar to the county.

In the last 48 hours alone, 101 cases have been announced by the LA County Department of Public Health, bringing the total to 292 identified cases across the county and two deaths as of Friday.

The Department of Public Health said it is continuing to investigate these cases and will notify close contacts who are household members, intimate partners and healthcare professionals to assess and monitor them for signs and symptoms of the illness. All confirmed cases are being isolated and close contacts are quarantined.

Across the state, there are now 1,006 confirmed cases and 19 deaths in California as of Friday, according to the California Department of Public Health. The majority of the cases are between the ages of 18 to 64 years old (711 cases), followed by 273 cases reportedly above the age of 65.

Of the confirmed cases, 266 are by community transmission, 108 person to person, 86 travel-related, while the remaining 522 are under investigation.

California Governor Gavin Newsom followed with his own announcement an hour later on Thursday night, ordering the state’s nearly 40 million people to stay at home as well. This measure is considered the strictest move by a state in the nation by far.

Similarly, the mandate allows residents to leave their homes for essential purchases and jobs.

“This is a moment we need to make tough decisions,” Newsom said. “This is a moment where we need some straight talk and we need to tell people the truth: We need to bend the curve in the state of California.”

There is no end date for the governor’s order, but said the next eight weeks are significant to bend the curve.

Quarantine site

On Friday, LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis announced that the Sheraton Hotel near the Fairplex in Pomona, California will be used as temporary housing for those who have been ordered to isolate or quarantine by the Department of Public Health.

“Our overwhelmed health care system will not be able to admit every person with mild symptoms of COVID-19. As we contain the spread of this virus, we need quarantine sites where people can receive care and heal,” Solis said.

The Sheraton Fairplex, a 244-room hotel, is located on the Pomona campus of Fairplex, home of the Los Angeles County Fair. Under the agreement, the county is slated to use it from March 23 to May 31, with the potential for a four-week extension.

This is the first hotel contracted out to the county for COVID-19 assistance.

Community resources

Organizations serving Filipino Americans and the greater Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities this week announced the closure of their offices but will continue to provide services remotely.

Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) has temporarily suspended public events and community services this week, such as its weekly seniors’ program. However, it will continue individualized services — like small business counseling, parenting classes and gang reduction — online or by phone at (213) 382-1819.

Pilipino Workers Center (PWC) in Historic Filipinotown will continue to conduct Census outreach, accept tax preparation requests, and address immigration and workplace issues at (213) 250-4353 or [email protected].

Staff at Asian Americans Advancing Justice – LA will continue to provide services by phone or videoconference. Their in-language helplines are still operating — (855) 300-2552 for (Tagalog) or (888) 349-9695 for (English).

The city of LA has also launched a website with a rundown on what is permitted during the “Stay at Home” order as well as other available resources, from small business loans to unemployment benefits.

Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is an award-winning editor and communications strategist based in Los Angeles with experience in content, strategy and branding for media ecosystems, inclusive fintech startups, small businesses and direct-to-consumer products.

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