Counties across California will begin stricter COVID-19 restrictions on Monday as cases surge statewide and Thanksgiving travelers return home.
Health officials are preparing for a wave of cases in the next two or three weeks that could be tied to Thanksgiving gatherings. Authorities had urged residents to stay home and keep their interactions with others limited, yet millions nationwide defied that advice.
“The big unknown here is what actions were people taking over this long holiday weekend,” Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
If people engaged in high-risk activities, she said, “we’re in for a very rough time because we will have a surge on top of a surge.”
L.A. County, the nation’s most populous, will impose a new stay-at-home order calling for its 10 million residents to stay home “as much as possible,” prohibiting them from gathering with people outside of their household for public or private occasions beginning Monday, except for faith-based services and protests.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has estimated that the county’s COVID-19 death toll could reach over 11,500 by the end of the year — meaning that more than 4,000 residents could die in just the next five weeks, the Los Angeles Times reported. A record number of people in the county were infected last week.
In Northern California, Santa Clara County — home to Silicon Valley — is banning all high school, collegiate and professional sports and imposing a quarantine for those traveling into the region from more than 150 miles away.
San Francisco and San Mateo counties moved to the most restrictive purple tier in the state’s pandemic blueprint for the economy, forcing most indoor activities to close by noon Sunday and placing the counties’ residents under curfew starting Monday night.
“This pandemic is like a high-speed train, and our projections tell us that we are on target to derail by around the third week of December if we don’t apply the brakes right now with all our collective might,” said Santa Clara County Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody.