Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Do We Really Have to Stay Home?

Los Angeles County and City of LA give mixed messages, telling people to stay home but allowing many businesses to operate at limited capacity

UPDATE: ICU capacity did drop below the magical 15% over this weekend. The additional restrictions will kick in at midnight on Sunday, December 6. The fear-mongering statements predicted were made by Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health: "we are likely to bear witness to one of the worst healthcare crises our county has seen in our lifetime." See our article

Since November 20, the state and local governments have been issuing an ever-changing cascade of health restriction orders in response to a massive surge in COVID-19 cases in the region. Making matters more confusing, the state's orders are not the same as the county's orders - and individual cities may issue yet more restrictive orders should they wish. More confusing yet, the county has superseded some of its latest orders with yet additional "temporary" orders.

To make matters easy on you, we sorted through the various rules and weeded out those that pertain to you, here in Santa Monica (or if you happen to have to spend some time in Los Angeles). That is, assuming you still care after 8 months of this rigamarole.

Despite Eric Garcetti's rhetoric the other day, telling everyone to just stay home, that isn't actually the case, not even under the new orders he issued. Those orders do not differ at all from the LA County orders, in effect November 30. And the most recent county orders are less restrictive than the lockdown we suffered at the beginning of all this in March.

What you can do in both Los Angeles and Santa Monica (while wearing a mask):

- Visit essential businesses any time you want (35% capacity)

- Visit non-essential retail from 5 am to 10 pm (20% capacity)

- Exercise and play outdoors while social distancing (parks, trails, beaches remain open) This includes golf, tennis, skate parks, and community gardens.

- Visit a hair salon. Yes, these are still open. (20% capacity)

- Go to an outdoor fitness center (50% capacity)

- Visit outdoor gardens of a museum, zoo, or botanical garden (50% capacity)

- Drive-in movie

- Get takeout from a restaurant

- Go to the library (20% capacity). If you can find one that's open. They're all closed except for curbside pickup.

In addition, childcare facilities remain open and day camps may still operate albeit within certain guidelines. Youth sports may meet but only for conditioning and skill-building , no competitive play.

The big new restriction is on activity outside your home between the hours of 10 pm to 5 am. Except for essential services, people should not leave their homes between these hours. (Previously, the restriction was only on the operation of non-essential businesses during these hours.)

What else can't you do?

- Gather with anyone outside your household, except for First Amendment reasons (worship and political protest), and those must be done outdoors.

- Not wear a mask once you walk outside your door

- Dine outside or inside at a restaurant

- Not socially distance when near those outside your household

- Use an outdoor playground. (Why not? Children are not at risk and their parents should be able to choose what risk they're willing to take.)

- Go to a cardroom, even if outdoors

- Go to a bar

- Go to the theatre, sporting event, bowling alley, or arcade

The reason for Garcetti's rhetoric, and that of other officials, is the drastic rise in the number of cases - which they fear will lead to a drastic rise in hospitalizations and deaths. On October 3, there were 873 new cases reported in Los Angeles. A month later, on November 3, this number had more than doubled to 1,959 new cases. A month after that, on December 3, the number of new cases was 7,854.

The significant number to look at however, is hospital capacity. As of yesterday, the ICU capacity remaining in California (according to the state health department) was 20.6%. If that capacity drops to 15%, look for additional restrictions to be imposed, complete with fear and panic-stricken language.


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