The Los Angeles County quarantine order will last at least five more weeks, until May 15. The county health authority was unable to give an estimate of when normal activity will resume in the most populous region of the United States. As of Friday, Los Angeles had recorded 8,430 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 241 deceased, the highest figures so far in California, but far removed from the situation in places with a similar population.
Los Angeles County, with 10 million residents, has been homebound since April 19, when the quarantine order was issued for all of California. Two days earlier, the San Francisco region (7.6 million inhabitants) had become the first major urban area in the country to adopt confinement measures. Although on paper they are measures very similar to those of Spain or Italy, they have important nuances. The first, that it is allowed to go for a walk and exercise. And second, that the police only act in the most flagrant cases of defiance of common sense.
Since then, orders have been tightening. Activities considered essential are obliged to provide their workers with an environment in which they can maintain a safe distance to avoid contagion. The use of masks to make the purchase is already mandatory throughout the city, to the point that supermarkets can deny entry to those who do not have protection. After a first weekend of quarantine in which many people took the opportunity to go to the beach or to the parks, these are now closed.
Not enough, county health officials said at the daily news conference on Friday. According to their estimates, even with these measures the infected population could reach 30%. “This is the week when it’s best not to go out or shop,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, chief of Los Angeles medical services earlier this week. Dr. Ferrer acknowledged that she cannot even guarantee that everything has returned to normal in the summer. The opening of commercial activity and the relaxation of the quarantine “will depend on the data,” he said this Friday.
Although the numbers of the expansion of the coronavirus in California are encouraging, Los Angeles County is the most affected by the disease. Chances are high that there are not enough intensive care beds in late April. The county has some 4,000 hospital beds and 750 intensive care beds.
The expansion of the quarantine order in Los Angeles comes as California authorities begin to publicly admit that the overall numbers are positive. Despite its 40 million inhabitants and having three large urban centers, the State has not seen at all a situation like that experienced in New York, Italy or Spain. The first case of contagion was detected in late January, and two and a half months later there are 552 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University count. Half of those are in Los Angeles County, where a quarter of the State lives.
This Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom said “California is flattening the curve.” Despite the good numbers of these weeks, the authorities have so far practiced extreme caution when evaluating the numbers, as well as drama to make the public aware of the need to respect quarantine. This Friday, the California Secretary of Health, Mark Ghaly, showed a projection according to which the State is in the lowest part of the contagion curve according to the projections that the state Government handles.
Information about the coronavirus
– Here you can follow the last hour on the evolution of the pandemic
– The coronavirus map: this is how cases grow day by day and country by country
– Questions and answers about coronavirus
– Guide to action against the disease
– If you have symptoms, these are the phones that have been enabled in each country in Latin America.