Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

As Covid-19 Deaths Hit Daily Single Digits, County of Los Angeles Allows Bars to Reopen, Loosening the Reins of Government Infinitesimally

Other sectors are also experiencing a further loosening of restrictions as the daily case rate plummets in the county.

March 23, 2021 - Almost exactly a year since the County of Los Angeles Department of Public Health shut them down, bars and wineries not serving meals are now allowed to open - as long as guests remain outdoors. Establishments offering meals along with alcohol can open indoors at 25% capacity.

Guests at outdoor bars are restricted to 90-minute stays, which begs the question if Public Health is thinking about unintended consequences. Those same people hastily guzzling their allotted time-portion of alcohol will then be forced - perhaps too quickly - back into their cars, to drive more drunk than they normally would. But since when do we expect Public Health to think about unintended consequences?

Other sectors are also experiencing a further loosening of restrictions as the daily case rate plummets in the county. Yesterday, there were less than 500 new cases of Covid-19. That is in a population of 10 million. It would seem to be difficult, at this point, to become infected. Less than 200 people are currently hospitalized with Covid-19, making hospital overcrowding a non-issue.

The county's reaction to these statistics is to loosen the reins infinitesimally on the freedom of residents to congregate, pursue employment, and engage in other normal, human activities. Non-school learning centers, banks, check-cashing services, auto repair and dealerships, and other non-retail indoor businesses can reopen at 50% capacity, the same as retail establishments. Mental health and "spiritual counseling" groups can increase in size from 10 to 12, although "Public Health still encourages services to be provided remotely when at all possible."

Indoor sports, including training and conditioning, can reopen at 10% capacity but spectators are not allowed and participants must submit to weekly Covid testing.

The change with the largest impact is the county's submission to new CDC guidelines that recommend a mere 3 feet between students as they return to in-person learning. This will allow more students to return at a time with more hours in the classroom.

Public Health credits vaccinations for the drop in Covid cases. 1,057,794 people in the county have received both doses of one of the three available vaccines. A remaining 2,177, 206 have received their first dose. The LADPH assures the public that 80 mobile vaccine teams are "deploying to the hardest hit communities, with a priority of vaccinating residents 65 and older." An additional 150 mobile vaccinations sites are scheduled to appear in the coming weeks.

By crediting the vaccine, apparently in the hope of motivating as many people as possible to accept it, the county is backing themselves into a lockdown corner. Once a large number of people have received the vaccine and the case rate remains low, government officials are going to have to release all the restrictions under which they have placed residents for over a year now. All of them.

We are not holding our breath, however.


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