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Health officials advise stay safer at home for Thanksgiving

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

On Wednesday the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health had a clear message for county residents: stay away from gatherings with people outside your immediate household, including Thanksgiving celebrations, if you want to avoid another total shutdown of the local economy.

“The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to stay home and celebrate with people who live in your household. Connect with friends and family you don’t live with by using all of the technology that allows us to see and hear each other from afar,” health officials stated in a news release.

If you do choose attend a Thanksgiving celebration, do so outdoors with no more than two other households, and no more than 15 people. Wear face coverings unless eating or drinking, stay at least six feet apart, set a time limit of two hours and do not share food or utensils.

Daily new coronavirus cases have more than doubled since the beginning of November and daily hospitalizations have increased from an average of 900 to more than 1,100. There are 1,188 people with COVID-19 currently hospitalized, 27 percent of whom are in the ICU. The spike in hospitalizations as brought back the real possibility that hospitals, in particular ICU units, could become overwhelmed with patients soon.

On Tuesday, public health officials issued a series of new restrictions and warned that the county could go back to a full lockdown if the new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to spike.

In a news release, public health announced that as of Friday, November 20, the health order will be amended to include several measures aimed at reducing the number of people collecting in places of business.

The new restrictions include: restaurants, breweries and wineries will be limited to 50 percent maximum outdoor capacity and must be closed form 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.; retail stores, offices and personal care services will be limited to 25 percent of the maximum occupancy allowed; services at personal care establishments may only be provided by appointment to customers wearing face coverings by staff wearing face coverings. Facials and shaves that require the removal of face coverings will not be allowed.

Additionally, private outdoor gatherings may only include 15 people from no more than three households. Indoor gatherings are still limited solely to the occupants of that residence.

“These safeguards and restrictions protect the public health and safety of our residents, and their ability to be served in our hospitals,” the news release read.

The county has published additional thresholds, that if crossed, will trigger additional restrictions. If the five-day average of new cases exceeds 4,000, or hospitalizations reach 1,750, restaurants, breweries and wineries will have to stop serving customers for in-person dining and return to take out only. Public health officials caution that if new cases continue to rise at the current rate, the county could hit a daily average of 4,000 by December 6.

If average cases rise to 4,500 or hospitalizations surpass 2,000, a new Safer at Home order will go into effect for three weeks and only essential and emergency workers will be allowed to leave their homes. People would still be allowed to leave their residences for essential services such as grocery shopping. In addition, a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would be imposed.

The average number of daily cases has tripled in the last month, from more than 900 cases a day to more than 2,800 for the five-day period that ended Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Over the weekend, Public Health reported a total of 6,841 new cases; 3,780 new cases for Saturday and 3,061 new cases for Sunday. The county has not experienced daily numbers like this since late July, during the last surge that resulted in many people becoming very seriously ill and losing their lives to COVID-19. On Wednesday public health reported 3,944 new cases and 36 deaths. Since the beginning of the pandemic the county has recorded 348,336 cumulative cases and 7,335 deaths.

Younger residents are driving the surge in cases. In the last month, the case rate for residents age 18 to 29 has more than doubled, from 11.5 cases to 25 cases per 100,000 people. The second highest group, residents ages 30 through 49, has nearly doubled from 9.4 cases to 18 cases per 100,000 people.

“As COVID-19 cases surge and hospitalizations continue to rise here and across California, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health urges everyone to take immediate action to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to stay home as much as possible for the next two to three weeks except for accessing essential services,” public health officials said in a statement.

Claremont now has 590 cumulative cases, an increase of eight percent from a week ago. Thankfully, the official number of deaths in Claremont still stands at 14 even as cases are increasing. No new institutional outbreaks in Claremont have been reported.

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