Quit With the Parties, LA Health Officials Warn Young People

Two women and a child wait to take a coronavirus test at a mobile testing site at the Charles Drew University of Medicine and Science in Los Angeles on July 22. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

LOS ANGELES (CN) — Los Angeles County public health officials said young people are driving the spread of Covid-19 in the county, even as a blatant trend of large gatherings, house parties and private shindigs grab national headlines.

There is a pandemic and that does not seem to get through to some people, county health officials said during their coronavirus briefing Wednesday. Despite a county health order prohibiting parties and other gatherings with people not part of their household, people must begin to police themselves.

“There is no single enforcement strategy that is going to get us to the place where we’re going to be able to shut down activities people continue to do in defiance — forget about the order — what I think is logical and sensible,” said LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

Health officials were asked about a supposed private party for first responders held at the Sassafras Saloon in Hollywood last week and a large party in a mansion on Mulholland Drive that ended in a shooting early Tuesday that left one person dead and four others injured.

“Gatherings of people from different households are such a bad idea at this time,” said Ferrer. “These parties and gatherings with people from outside your home hurt all of us.”

During a press conference on Wednesday, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city will shut off the water and power for properties that repeatedly break health rules and throw large parties, a directive that will kick in on Friday.

The mayor noted that while the city has already shut down nightclubs and bars, large house parties and gatherings like the one on Mulholland Drive earlier this week “have essentially become nightclubs.” These health violations, according to Garcetti, have made the water and power shutoff penalties necessary.

Garcetti stressed that these shutoffs will be largely centered only on frequent and regular offenders of the city’s health orders. The mayor said the Water and Power Department will be asked to shut off a property’s utilities only after the Los Angeles Police Department can confirm that a property has egregiously offended time and time again by holding large gatherings.

The mayor said that while he encourages people to avoid gatherings of any size as the nation continues to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, he said that these efforts will not be focused on small or ordinary gatherings in people’s homes. These restrictions, according to the mayor, will be focused only on the “people that are determined to break the rules.”

LA County’s coronavirus infections continue to climb even as deaths have leveled off and even begun declining. But that silver lining is also tainted with the warning that young people are not immune to catching the virus or a fatal turn after infection.

Ferrer said since June, infections among people ages 30-48 have nearly tripled. People between the ages of 18 and 29 saw infections quadruple from June to the last days of July, according to the daily average rate per 100,000 people.

On Wednesday, LA County reported 2,347 new infections and 68 new deaths. So far 4,825 Angelenos have died since the onset of the pandemic and 197,912 have been infected according to health officials.

Infection numbers over the last two weeks are in question, said Ferrer, after it was reported Tuesday that electronic results from a state reporting system have been delayed and the total infections in LA County may have been undercounted. The glitch could also delay contact tracing and tracking where infected persons may have spread the virus.

Hospitalizations are on a downward trend in LA, with just 1,700 patients who need hospital care. In July, the daily average for hospitalizations was a little over 2,000. The balance shows that changes made in the last few weeks made a difference, and Ferrer said she’s “cautiously optimistic.”

“One thing for certain: We will not be able to arrest our way out of the pandemic,” she said.

California saw its second-highest daily death toll since the pandemic began, reporting Wednesday that 202 residents died from Covid-19 complications in the last 24 hours. So far, the novel coronavirus has killed 9,703 Californians.

On the bright side, state officials said hospitalizations and intensive care unit cases continue to drop across the Golden State.

As of Wednesday, 524,722 Californians have tested positive for the virus that causes Covid-19, up 5,295 since Tuesday.

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