Los Angeles lockdown: LA County urges 10 million residents to stay at home for three weeks after Covid surge
LOS ANGELES has announced a three week lockdown as Covid infections have surged with some 4,544 new cases on Friday.
The county's ten million residents have been urged to stay at home and most gatherings have been banned – but shops other business will remain open.
Draconian anti-coronavirus rules in LA ban people from gathering with others who aren't in their own households – both in private and in public.
Exemption have been made for church services and protests which the Department of Public Health said were "constitutionally protected rights".
Barbara Ferrer, public health director, said: "We know we are asking a lot from so many who have been sacrificing for months on end.
"Acting with collective urgency right now is essential if we want to put a stop to this surge."
The county confirmed only 24 new deaths on Friday – but has been facing surging infection rates over the past week.
It had set a threshold for issuing the stay-home order – which was an average of 4,500 cases a day over a five-day period.
LA chiefs however had not expected to reach that level by December – but the figure is now 4,751.
Retail business are being allowed to remain open with just 20 per cent capacity as they rely on making profits during Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
Restaurants were already barred from in-person dining – but they can still offer pickup, delivery and takeout services.
The order, which lasts until December 20, is lighter than the statewide closure order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom in mid-March.
Daily cases numbers in California have set records as hospitalizations spiked by more than 80 per cent in the last two weeks.
Nearly 2,000 people in the country are now in hospital and its hoped the new order will help ease pressure on the county's health system.
Public health officials are bracing for a wave of cases following gatherings at Thanksgiving despite advice from the Centre for Disease Control.
It usually takes around two to three weeks for serious cases to show and around 12 per cent of those infected could end up in hospital.
LA is also one of the most densely populated cities in the US, with many of those living in multi-generational households.
Case numbers are also disproportionally impacting Latinos and African America people.
Dr. George Rutherford, an epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, told AP he does not expect tougher measures to beat the virus to be rolled out despite rising infections.
"It's hard to imagine how much further you can go in a society like we have," said Dr Rutherford.
"It's a balancing act, right?
"You want people to obey it but you don't want to make it so draconian that people are trying to figure out ways around it all the time."
It comes as the US has been warned it faces its "darkest days" as 65 Americans are now dying every hour from Covid-19.
The crippling toll also continues to brutalise the economy in a vicious two pronged attack on the nation.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that the economic cost of the pandemic is estimated to be $16trillion until fall 2021.
And more than 11.1million Americans were unemployed in October, more than double the pre-pandemic figures from February.
Joseph Varon, the chief of staff at United Memorial Medical Center in Texas, said that he expects cases and hospitalizations to surge even higher after Thanksgiving.
"My concerns for the next six to 12 weeks is that if we don't do things right, America is going to see the darkest days in modern American medical history," Dr. Varon told CNN.
Located in Houston, Dr. Varon said he has been working for 251 straight days because of the pandemic.
"My hospital is full. I just opened two new wings so that I can accommodate for the next few days because I know that a lot of people are going to get sick after Thanksgiving," he said.
"My nurses in the middle of the day, they will start crying, because they are getting so many patients, and it's a never-ending story.
"When they finish finally getting a patient in, they get a phone call from the ER that there is another patient getting admitted."
US coronavirus cases have topped 13million with a record 90,000 people hospitalized on Thanksgiving – and arecord 194,000 new cases were reported on Friday.
Millions of people traveled across the 50 states days before the holidays as the daily coronavirus death toll hit its highest since May.
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