L.A. City and County COVID-19 Weekly Update (July 20, 2020)

California COVID-19 Guidance: Week in Review

COVID-19 Moving Into ‘Alarming and Dangerous Phase’ in Los Angeles

On Wednesday, July 15, 2020, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer stated that the County was entering an “alarming and dangerous” phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. The County hit record daily totals for new infections, with counts over 4,000 for the first time, as well as several days with record numbers of daily deaths. The County’s three-day average of daily new cases rose to over 2,000, and the daily infection rate reached its highest level since the start of the pandemic.

On Thursday, July 16, the L.A. County Department of Public Health tweeted that “hospitalizations are skyrocketing in Los Angeles County.” The County saw average daily hospitalizations of over 2,000, and total hospitalizations also grew to more than 10,000 during the course of the pandemic. Notably, an increasing proportion of those hospitalized are in intensive care units (ICUs). While the County’s modeling predicts that overall hospital bed supplies remain adequate, there may be a strain on ICU bed capacity if current trends continue.

Testing

On Wednesday, July 15, Supervisor Hilda Solis announced that L.A. County would be expanding testing capacity at several existing locations, as well as opening several new testing sites. L.A. County Health Director Dr. Christina Ghaly announced that this would constitute a 65% expansion in capacity, primarily focused in high-need areas (i.e., those with higher infection rates and/or lower income and communities of color that are more vulnerable). As of July 16, the County was operating 112 testing sites, as compared with 47 sites a week prior.

Enforcement

On Monday, July 13, Governor Gavin Newsom ordered all counties across the state to close indoor activities including restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. In addition, the 30 counties on the state’s monitoring list for three days—including L.A. County—were required to close personal services (such as hair and nail salons), gyms and other sectors. More information can be found here.

The County is also stepping up enforcement efforts. This upcoming Tuesday, July 21, the Board of Supervisors will consider a motion, introduced by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas, to create a system for employee reporting of COVID-19 noncompliance with health and safety rules. The report is due back to the Board by August 4, 2020.

Also on Tuesday, July 21, the Board of Supervisors will consider a motion introduced by Supervisor Hilda Solis that seeks to align the L.A. County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 enforcement efforts with the state’s ‘strike teams’ established by Governor Gavin Newsom. These strike teams, which include personnel from various state agencies, conduct checks on businesses to enforce guidelines and safety regulations intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. The report is also due back to the Board by August 4, 2020.

Manatt will continue to monitor developments around these proposals, including any potential systems ultimately created regarding enforcement of COVID-19 safety regulations.

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