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LA's New Coronavirus 'Curfew,' Explained

Los Angeles County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer. (Robyn Beck / AFP via Getty Images)
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Public health officials are warning residents that L.A. County is now facing "one of the most dangerous moments" in the pandemic so far, and could return to a version of the March stay-at-home order if numbers worsen.

Starting this Friday, November 20, nonessential businesses like restaurants, breweries, and retail stores must close at 10 p.m. and adhere to new occupancy limits. They will be permitted to reopen at 6 a.m.

Public health department officials don't want to label the new restriction a 'curfew' because businesses will still be allowed to operate take-out and pick-up operations after 10 p.m. -- just no in-person outdoor dining.

If the county averages more than 4,500 cases in a five-day period, a number Ferrer says will strain our the local healthcare system -- or if hospitalizations surge to more than 2,000 patients, authorities will impose a three-week return to the Safer-At-Home policy we experienced back in March. In that case, a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would be mandated for everyone, except essential workers.

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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.

On Wednesday, the county reported nearly 4,000 (3,944 to be exact) new cases of COVID-19, the highest in a single day since July.

"We have taken action in the past, and we worked together, both early on in the pandemic and in the summer, and we've been successful in preventing transmission in our communities," L.A. County Public Health director Barbara Ferrer said at Wednesday's news conference. "We just have to get back to doing that work again."

The county also confirmed 36 new deaths from COVID-19.

Ferrer said health officials are concerned that increased cases could overwhelm the healthcare system. The idea of immplementing a curfew now is to prevent that from happening, rather than implementing damage control when and if it's too late.

If you want a visual of current uptick in case numbers, the L.A. Times has a great web tracker, with easy to understand data visualizations.


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