The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Monday evening that the county plans to close beaches and prohibit fireworks displays over the Independence Day weekend so as to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.
“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus. The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19,” said Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer in a press release.
“We all need to take this virus more seriously and residents and business owners must do their part. Physical distancing isn’t optional, wearing a face covering isn’t optional, spending time only with those you live with isn’t optional — these are requirements in the Health Officer Order and are the tools we have to protect each other, our families and those most vulnerable in our communities,” she said.
Supervisor Janice Hahn tweeted that the county had “almost 3,000 reported cases just today,” and could not risk “having crowds at the beach this holiday.”
Due to rising #COVID19 cases all @CountyofLA beaches will be closing again temporarily this weekend, July 3rd through 6th. We had almost 3,000 reported cases just today. We cannot risk having crowds at the beach this holiday weekend.
— Janice Hahn (@SupJaniceHahn) June 29, 2020
Fox News Los Angeles reports that anyone who violates the beach ban may be subject to a $1,000 fine. The Los Angeles County Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station also tweeted that they would be patrolling beaches.
However, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva doesn’t seem to be on the same page as the county.
“We were not consulted on the beach closure, and will only assist our beach cities in closing parking lots and traffic enforcement on PCH,” he said, reports Fox LA. “In regards to enforcing the beach closure, we will not be enforcing it because we are ‘Care First, Jail Last.’”
Full statement: “We were not consulted on the beach closure, and will only assist our beach cities in closing parking lots and traffic enforcement on PCH. In regards to enforcing the beach closure, we will not be enforcing it because we are “Care First, Jail Last.” @FOXLA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) June 30, 2020
According to the Los Angeles Times, officials estimate nearly 1 in 140 residents in the county may be spreading coronavirus unwittingly. In recent weeks, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said it was “highly likely” the increase in positive cases could be attributed to the national unrest and protests, which broke out after the Memorial Day weekend, reports the news agency.
On Monday, Ferrer shared that the increase in cases could also be attributed to people behaving as if the pandemic had ended, and could not be pinned solely on an increase in coronavirus testing, according to The Times.
“There are a number of businesses and individuals who have not followed the directives, and they’ve gone back to living like COVID-19 is not living in our community,” said Ferrer. “If you’re not part of the solution to slow the spread, you’re ending up being part of the problem.”
Over the weekend, NBC News reported that Governor Gavin Newsom announced that bars in eight counties, including Los Angeles, would be closed due to coronavirus concerns. As of Monday evening, over 8% of coronavirus tests in the county have returned positive. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced in a later press conference on Monday that he was putting a “hard pause” on the re-opening of businesses, including theme parks and movie theaters, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
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