Restrictions Return as State’s COVID-19 Numbers Rise

Businesses in La Cañada Flintridge were dealt another big blow last week with Gov. Gavin Newsom’s reinstatement of restrictions on indoor activities due to the rise of COVID-19 cases and the positivity rate in California.
Restaurants must be closed for indoor dining until further notice, and closures also extended to wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, bars and card rooms. Gyms remain open, but staff members and patrons must wear face coverings and gloves.
“It is obviously frustrating that after just a few short weeks of a partial reopening, indoor dining was shut down again,” LCF Mayor Mike Davitt wrote in an email to The Outlook Valley Sun. “I know that restaurants in our community were following the guidelines as outlined by the health officials, so that adds to the frustration.
“With the rise in cases, and then increase in hospitalizations, we certainly want to do whatever is reasonable to slow the spread. We continue to work with county and state officials to implement plans which will allow businesses to resume operations in a safe and prudent manner.”
In his weekly update on Monday, Newsom said the positivity rate jumped from 4.9% to 6.8% in just 14 days, and the seven-day positivity rate — the percentage of people who test positive for the coronavirus out of those tested — is up to 7.2%. The recent surge in coronavirus cases prompted the governor to bring back some restrictions in various counties, including Los Angeles, on July 1. There are 23 counties currently on the watch list.
Newsom has faced scrutiny for what some observers say was a premature reopening of the state economy and defended that decision by saying reopening is possible “with reinforcement and individual responsibility.”
The governor ramped up enforcement of his recent order, with agents from the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control visiting nearly 6,000 restaurants and issuing 52 citations last weekend. Division of Occupational Safety and Health and Department of Industrial Relations officials contacted more than 441,000 businesses to ensure they are compliant.
“I think we could safely reopen, and I think if we wear face coverings, we can mitigate the community spread of the disease,” Newsom said. “ … That’s why we laid out in detail terms some of what the guidelines include and what those expectations are. We set those expectations; we focused on how to responsibly reopen certain sectors of the economy. And now it’s incumbent upon all of us to not only monitor that but to enforce those rules and regulations.”
Despite an alarming rise of cases throughout the state, La Cañada Flintridge remains steady with only 84 total cases as of Wednesday, 14 more than what was reported by the L.A. County Department of Public Health two weeks prior.
However, Dr. Armand Dorian, USC Verdugo Hills Hospital’s chief medical officer, advises locals to keep wearing their face coverings, continue washing their hands often and practice social distancing.
“In La Cañada and La Crescenta, the numbers are pretty steady and the people are somewhat insulated from a lot of the hot spots like Pasadena and downtown L.A.,” he said. “It’s tough to say how the dynamics of the hot spots will stay. It’s just like a fire, and the fire embers are individuals infected. They get in their cars and go from one place to another, possibly spreading the fire.”
The spike in numbers across the county disappointed Dorian, who attributes it to people wanting a sense of normalcy.
“It is frustrating for me as a physician running the ship,” he said. “We see this tide that is continually rising. The general public is not in the medical profession, and they are tired of hearing of COVID-19. If I showed them the numbers early on, people would go out of their minds and lock themselves in a closet and never come out of the house.”
Hospitalizations in California went up 50% over a 14-day period because of the 39% growth in coronavirus cases and increase in testing the past two weeks. The state set a new record in daily tests on Saturday with 127,000.
A silver lining in Newsom’s briefing was the relatively low death rate. California had only 18 deaths on Saturday and six on Sunday. However, he cautioned that that statistic is a “lagging indicator.”
“It’s encouraging, though I would remind you last week in one reporting period over 24 hours, we had 110 lives lost, so contrast to six [on Sunday],” Newsom said. “ … We are cautious as well as modestly optimistic, but cautious nonetheless.”
Dorian added the new wave of patients is “a lot younger,” a trend that Newsom also mentioned.
“They are getting infected and doing better with the infection,” Dorian said. “Some are asymptomatic or showing very mild symptoms. Many are not getting admitted into hospitals and quarantining at home. I think it’s because they are taking more risks with not wearing a mask and not practicing social distancing.”
USC-VHH medical officials are prepared for all outcomes and managed to acquire a lot of personal protective equipment the last few months, he said. They also established a system to better deal with COVID-19 patients.
“You can’t go to war if you don’t have armor,” Dorian said. “With that preparation, we feel battle tested. We got the gear and have a process in place.”

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