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LA County's 'Limited Stay At Home Order' Begins Tonight At 10, As Surge Continues

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Chairs stacked on tables in the closed dining areas of Grand Central Market. (Chava Sanchez/LAist)

Los Angeles County's new limited Stay-At-Home order goes into effect tonight (Friday) at 10 p.m. Some are calling the new rules a 'curfew,' which health officials say isn't quite the right word, since essential places like grocery stores and pharmacies will still be open, in addition to take-out and delivery.

This coincides with California's order, which goes into effect on Saturday. The new restrictions prevent personal gatherings between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., as well as requiring non-essential businesses to close during that time.

Here's what else you need to know about the new restrictions in L.A. County:

Courtsey L.A. Dept. of Public Health

Here are rules for purple tier counties in California (which includes L.A.):

The idea behind the new restrictions is this: We need preventative measures to stop the surge from getting worse, if we want to avoid another full-on stay-at-home order.

The numbers we are seeing now are a reflection of actions Angelenos were taking two weeks ago, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said:

"If we act today, a two weeks from now, we should be able to see a start and slowing the spread," Ferrer said. "If we don't, I fear that we're going to continue to experience, higher case count, more people passing away from COVID-19, and a stressed out healthcare system."

Today L.A. County reported 4,272 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 35 deaths. The county shattered its own daily record yesterday, with over 5,000 new cases.

Ferrer said the county's positivity rate has also increased "significantly"; it's now at 7.3%.

If L.A. county reaches a five-day average of over 4,500 cases, we could go back to a the kind of Safer-At-Home order we had in March. As of today, we've hit a three-day average that meets this threshold.

If the county averages more than 4,500 cases in a five-day period and hospitalizations reach 1,750 patients, all outdoor dining will temporarily shut down.

Confused? Here are a couple common questions:

WILL THERE BE ENFORCEMENT?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Just be a good person.

"We get this question all the time," Ferrer said. "We're public health people, and so we really appreciate that the best enforcement is voluntary compliance ... We all have a stake in this. And that's what we rely on. We rely on people having enough information to make the good decisions that really save other people's lives at this point, and potentially their own."

Ferrer did note that the health department will continue to issue citations to businesses that don't comply with restrictions, but there won't be any citations for individuals who don't follow the rules.

"This is not just about each individual person at this point," she said. "This is about a collective responsibility to get ourselves to next year, when we're going to have a vaccine available."

WHAT IF MY FAMILY MEMBER IS COMING FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

They need to quarantine for 14 days. If you're talking about Thanksgiving, it's probably too late for that. The least you can do is have them isolate in a separate room and wear a mask whenever they are inside with anyone else.

If you are having Thanksgiving with someone who has travelled or who lives in a different household, you should be eating outside with social distancing and masks when possible.

OK, CASES ARE RISING BUT ARE DEATHS?

Deaths are not as high, proportionally, as cases, but Ferrer says they are rising.

"Over the last three days, we've reported over 25 deaths each day. And that's unusual for us at this point in time," Ferrer said.

CAN I WALK OUTSIDE AFTER 10?

Yes, it's not really a curfew, in that you can still walk your dog, shop for groceries or go to work if you are an essential worker. Just don't throw a party.

"The intent here is to try to make it possible for us to get back to slowing the spread, by asking people to take personal responsibility for not mixing with others," Ferrer said.

IS THE CASE SURGE BECAUSE OF MORE TESTING?

No. See above on postivity rate.

WHY 10 P.M.? THIS MAKES NO SENSE! I'M UPSET!

The whole idea of cutting off non-essential businesses at 10 p.m., is people who are out after 10 are often socializing with other people who aren't in their household. That kind of inter-household mixing is what these restrictions are meant to target.

Drinking also tends to lower inhibitions, which makes it harder to social distance and wear masks properly.

WHY ARE YOU TARGETING RESTAURANTS AND BARS? ARE THEY UNSAFE?

"Places where people aren't wearing their face coverings are obviously places where there's a higher risk of transmission," Ferrer said. "And unfortunately, at restaurants and bars where people are eating and drinking most of the time, they're not wearing a face covering."

People at restaurants or bars also tend to speak loudly, cheer or sing (if watching, say, an outdoor Dodger's game), without masks on, Ferrer said.

That's why the county is asking restaurants with outdoor dining to limit occupancy to 50%.

Reminder: Just because retaurants are open for outdoor dining doesn't mean you're supposed to be eating with those you don't live with. That increases your risk, and the risk to restaurant staff.

MORE ABOUT THE NEW RESTRICTIONS:

LA Restaurant Owners Prepare For 10PM Curfew 

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People gather to view a broadcast of Game 1 of the 2020 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Tampa Bay Rays at an outdoor bar and restaurant, amid the pandemic, on Oct. 20 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Restaurants across L.A. County will have to close at 10 p.m. starting Friday night based on new public health orders.

The county’s increased restrictions come one day before a state curfew takes hold in other parts of Southern California.

State and local officials say they’re urging people to stay home and ordering restaurants, bars and other businesses to stop in-person service after 10 p.m. because COVID-19 cases are surging, and reducing late-night social gatherings could help lower infection rates.

But struggling local restaurant owners who have adapted to outdoor service say the curfews could lead to lower sales and pay cuts for staff.

Christy Vega, who owns the Sherman Oaks Mexican restaurant Casa Vega, said she has spent tens of thousands of dollars on tents, heating lamps and other equipment for outdoor dining.

That has helped Casa Vega stay open until midnight, she said, but now they will have to close early and workers will have to go home with less income.

“You're hitting the dishwashers and the bus boys,” Vega said. “All those people are going to lose two hours every day off their shift.”

Bret Thompson, the chef and owner of Pez Cantina in Downtown L.A., said customers who stay past 10 p.m. for patio dining tend to be more profitable because they’re often ordering more alcohol.

He said he understands the need to curb COVID rates, but it’s hard to lose those sales at the end of the night.

“I've lost two friends this year to COVID. It's definitely very, very serious,” Thompson said. “For me, it's still an internal battle. How do we balance staying open, doing business, and keeping everyone safe?”

Restaurants can still open for outdoor service during the day and early evenings, but only at 50% of their outdoor maximum capacity.

READ MORE:

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That 'White' Checkbox On The Census? It Doesn't Make Sense To This Arab American

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Rashad Al-Dabbagh, second from right, at a February 2017 rally for immigrant rights and racial justice in Huntingon Beach (Photo courtesy of Rashad Al-Dabbagh)

Rashad Al-Dabbagh participated in the 2000 Census, his first, shortly after arriving in the U.S. from Saudi Arabia as a student. He was surprised to learn at the time that he was expected to check “white” for racial identity -- there was no race or ethnicity box on the form for Arab Americans.

But amid the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim hate that followed the 9/11 attacks the next year, he quickly realized that his “white” label came without the privilege of whiteness. He writes in our Race in LA series:

Those who perpetrated the attacks did not represent me, my culture, or my religion, nor did they in any way define me.

Yet the day of the attacks, I went to my Psychology of Religion class and was greeted with a “joke” by the professor.

“Did your PLO contacts page you before the attacks? HAHA,” the professor cracked.

Incidents like these are part of what helped steer Al-Dabbagh into community activism. He also joined in the decades-long push by Arab Americans for a separate census category, which was tested by the U.S. Census Bureau during the Obama administration but ultimately did not make it into the 2020 Census questionnaire.

READ THE ESSAY:

MORE FROM OUR RACE IN LA SERIES

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Republican Mike Garcia Still Has A Slim Lead In The 25th District Congressional Race

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A Mike Garcia sign in Palmdale. (Libby Denkmann/LAist)

These results will be continually updated as votes are counted. Last updated on Friday Nov. 20 at 4:30 PM.

The 25th Congressional District remained one of a handful of House races nationwide that are too close to call after Los Angeles County released its latest ballot count update today.

Republican Congressman Mike Garcia’s lead over State Assemblymember Christy Smith dipped slightly with the new tally -- his margin is now exactly 400 votes. They’re vying to represent a district that includes Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale and Lancaster.

The L.A. County Registrar-Recorder estimated there are 41,230 ballots remaining to be counted in the entire county -- mostly mail-in ballots that were postmarked by election day but arrived after polls closed.

Turnout is approaching 76%, but that will not be final until all ballots are counted and election officials certify the vote. Counties have 31 days to do so after an election is held, and the Secretary of State has until Dec. 11 to sign off on the whole thing.

Garcia is trying to keep the seat he flipped in a special election back in May, when he won the right to complete former Rep. Katie Hill’s term. Hill resigned last year after nude photos were posted online without her consent and the House Ethics Committee started an investigation into allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a congressional staffer, which she denied.

[Read more about the issues animating this congressional race, and the recent history of the 25th District.]

The mostly suburban and rural district was one of the last remaining Republican-held seats touching Los Angeles County when Hill defeated Steve Knight in the 2018 blue wave election. Big picture, Smith and Democrats want to show the district is one of the suburbs the GOP has lost under President Trump. Republicans are hoping to see enough split-ticket voters who will support their down-ticket congressman even if the majority eschewed Trump.

There is no automatic trigger for a recount in California congressional races. Any registered voter may request election officials tally the votes over again, but they also must cover the steep costs involved with tracking down ballots under the county’s new decentralized Voter’s Choice Act system.

RESULTS WE HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING:

In L.A.:

Statewide:

Congress:

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Teachers Union Details Stance On LAUSD In-Person Hybrid Learning

Updated
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United Teachers Los Angeles president Cecily Myart-Cruz updated members on negotiations over a return to in-person learning in a live update on November 20. (Screenshot of UTLA Facebook livestream)

The Los Angeles Unified School District and the union representing teachers are still negotiating over what a return to in-person learning would look like whenever campuses are allowed to reopen -- including the details of the district’s proposed “hybrid” model, featuring some in-person and some online learning.

“A potential physical return would have to use a hybrid schedule, and frankly, there is no such thing as a good hybrid schedule,United Teachers Los Angeles President Cecily Myart-Cruz said today in her weekly update.

The district declined to comment on the specifics of the negotiations. At a town hall hosted by Board of Education member Nick Melvoin, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner acknowledged that “[hybrid] is not … a choice we want to make; it’s a choice we need to make, somewhere between all being back and and somewhere between all being online.”

Hybrid means that students would be put into groups that would spend some of their time on campus learning in a classroom with a teacher, and some of their time learning online. When one group is in-person, the other group is online (though the district is figuring out how it could provide supervision for students when they’re not in the classroom, if families need that).

When LAUSD unveiled a roadmap to reopen campuses, hybrid was part of the plan, though campuses are unlikely to reopen anytime soon because the county remains in the state’s most restrictive “purple” tier – and the superintendent has chosen not to apply for reopening waivers.

In her update on the union’s position on reopening today, Myart-Cruz said UTLA does not want its members to teach both in-person and online students at the same time, and seems to be against the version of hybrid learning that would bring one cohort of students on campus in the morning, and another in the afternoon.

As these negotiations continue, the district’s Communities of Schools have been convening town hall meetings for families, to walk through the “Return to Campus Family Guide” and to explain the next steps.

Even though the particulars of the hybrid model are still being negotiated – like which times or days students might be on campus and when they’d switch – the district is still asking parents to indicate on an online form if they’d like their student to return in the hybrid model or to continue the school year in online-only distance learning.

“Naturally, we would have preferred to have the final negotiations done and the specifics of the hybrid model … the days of the week, all of that important information,” Local District South Superintendent Michael Romero said in an interview. “But we made the decision to send it out with a generic hybrid model because we need to now have an idea of what our parents are thinking about. We have to have a feel, roughly, if the parents feel comfortable sending their kids back.”

Romero and Beutner say there will be some form of supervision offered for hybrid students when they’re not in the classroom with their teachers.

Parents’ responses are due to the district on Dec. 6, and if parents don’t respond, the district says their student will automatically be placed in the hybrid model, though they could opt back into distance learning at any time.

READ MORE OF OUR COVERAGE OF THE REOPENING OF SCHOOLS

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Medical Problems Can Linger Months After COVID-19 Infection

Updated
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Toban Nichols in April, after he spent a month in bed and lost 25 pounds. (Courtesy of Toban Nichols)

Some people who caught the coronavirus early in the pandemic are still struggling with medical issues several months later.

“It's just such a strange phenomenon that you sort of just go a little foggy, you just sort of can't concentrate,” said Toban Nichols, an L.A. artist who contracted the virus in March.

Eight months later, he still has breathing problems and gets fatigued, along with the bouts of “brain fog.”

Nichols is one of the thousands of coronavirus patients who’ve experienced long-term neurological problems.

Cases like Nichols’ don’t fit neatly into county health officials’ data sets that tally cases, deaths, hospitalizations, and recoveries, and doctors are searching for answers as more patients report post-coronavirus cognitive impairment.

READ TOBAN'S FULL STORY HERE:

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Morning Briefing: LA's Tightening COVID Restrictions

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The south coast Plaza Carousel remains closed due to the covid-19 pandemic. Chava Sanchez/LAist

Good morning, L.A.

If you’ve been following along, you know that L.A. County – along with much of California – is facing yet another surge in coronavirus cases. Yesterday, the county reported 5,031 new positive tests; a record high for a single day.

In response, state officials are shutting down nightlife in L.A., and in all other counties that remain in the purple tier. Starting today, residents must be home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. — a curfew, for all intents and purposes.

"The virus is spreading at a pace we haven’t seen since the start of this pandemic and the next several days and weeks will be critical to stop the surge,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom in a statement (although Newsom himself has had trouble adhering to the restrictions he sets). “We are sounding the alarm."

The overnight stay-at-home mandate might only be the beginning, though. If the next few days continue to bring such a high volume of new cases, and the five-day average reaches 4,500, officials implied they’d put a full Safer at Home order back in place – just like what we had in March.

Keep reading for more on what’s happening in L.A. today, and stay safe out there.

Jessica P. Ogilvie


Coming Up Today, November 20

LAist contributor Rashad Al-Dabbagh writes about why he began pushing for a separate census identity box for the Arab American community. The census went without one this year, again.

In looking at the long-term impact of COVID-19, Jackie Fortiér speaks with Tobin Nichols. Tobin contracted the virus eight months ago and is still dealing with lingering lung and breathing issues, as well as what he calls "COVID brain fog."

Libby Denkmann will have the latest update in the still-ongoing race for California’s 25th Congressional district.

Director Katie Lindsay figured out a way to create an intimate theater experience in COVID times – not an easy feat. Her new performance, A Walk In My Neighborhood, is an audio tour of the daily walk she's taken each day since the pandemic began, reflecting on what it means to inhabit this land. Gina Pollack will have the story.

Never miss an LAist story. Sign up for our daily newsletters.


LAist Studios Presents: Servant Of Pod With Nick Quah

In 2014, Lauren Shippen was an aspiring actor in Los Angeles: taking classes, booking intermittent gigs, and waiting tables. Four years later, she’s one of the busiest people in podcasting, thanks to The Bright Sessions, an independent fiction podcast she made on her own. In this week’s episode of Servant of Pod with Nick Quah, Nick talks with Lauren about her steadily rising career in entertainment, which spans multiple podcasts, a multi-project book deal and maybe more.


The Past 24 Hours In LA

Money Matters: Temporary unemployment benefits provided through the federal CARES Act will end in late December for 750,000 Californians, unless Congress acts. Counting for the 2020 Census might be over, but controversy over the once-in-a-decade tally – which can determine funding for critical local programs – will likely continue.

Explanations, Explanations: As part of our Racism 101 project, our panel answers the question: “What’s the deal with the term ‘cholo’? How did it evolve, and who is allowed to say it?” L.A.-area assembly members explain and defend their trip to Hawaii for a conference with lobbyists.

No Space For U: Palmdale did not make the list of finalists to be the home of U.S. Space Command.

Here’s What To Do: Try a drive-through holiday experience, burn off quarantine calories, watch Hollywood's home movies, and more in this week’s best online and IRL events.


Photo of the Day

A closed table is seen at The Den Cafe in Santa Ana following reimposed restrictions on indoor dining.

(Patrick T. Fallon/AFP via Getty Images)

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