Los Angeles, California has been a coronavirus hotspot since the beginning of the pandemic. Due to its large and concentrated population, cases have been spreading rapidly over the past few months. Ever since the first COVID-19 case in California was confirmed on January 26, 2020, California has suffered dearly from the pandemic.
Timeline of Cases and Deaths
The first COVID-19-related death in Los Angeles County was on March 11, 2020. It was a woman in her 60s who had underlying health conditions. She was not a resident of Los Angeles and had been traveling around Asia, including a layover in a South Korea airport. By March 13, Los Angeles County had 8 more reported new cases and their total was brought to 40 cases. Only two days later, on March 15, Los Angeles was up to 69 cases. Within a week, Los Angeles County had almost 300 cases and was concerned about its medical facilities and their ability to accommodate all of these coronavirus cases. Los Angeles County is nationally the second-largest municipal health system and even they believed they could no longer contain the virus. They switched their COVID-19 testing guidelines to only test for patients suffering extremely from symptoms, not just mild symptoms. The first person under the age of 18 to die in the United States from the coronavirus pandemic might be a teenager from Lancaster, which is part of Los Angeles County. He was 17 years old and was reportedly initially denied healthcare at an urgent care clinic due to his lack of health insurance. He went into cardiac arrest and died at Antelope Valley Hospital, but it was later found out that because of a language barrier, the facts were incorrect, and he did indeed have health insurance. This was on March 24. The very next day, on March 25, Los Angeles County reached over the 1000 mark with 1,216 reported cases and 21 deaths. Only 5 days later, the cases had doubled to 2,474 cases. 5 more days passed, and the cases again increased by 1000 to 3,518 cases. On April 14, Los Angeles County alone surpassed 10,000 COVID cases and had 40 deaths in a single day. This set the single day death record for any county in the United States. There were also 670 new cases that day alone.
Government Response in Los Angeles
Schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District were closed on March 13 and stayed closed through the end of the school year. On April 7, The Mayor of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti announced that recent CDC guidelines recommended instituting a Worker Protection Order beginning April 10. This meant that all employees and customers of stores and essential businesses had to wear face masks. Businesses would also have the right to refuse service to anyone not wearing a face mask in the store. On June 28, California Governor Gavin Newsom ordered that bars close in seven counties throughout the state, including Los Angeles. The list also had Fresno, Kern, Tulare, San Joaquin, Imperial, and Kings counties. Most indoor businesses were ordered to close by Governor Newsom on July 1. These included restaurants, wineries, and movie theaters in Los Angeles County.
Other Effects of Coronavirus on Los Angeles County
The county Sheriff’s Department announced that it had reduced the population of prisons by six hundred the two weeks before March 17 in an effort to keep prisoners from being infected by the coronavirus. Additionally, there was a survey conducted on April 17 that discovered that less than 50 percent of Los Angeles County residents were employed. Some of this unemployment may be temporary though and their work will resume after the pandemic is over.
Recent Record-Breaking Cases and Concerns
During the week of July 13, Los Angeles County saw three record-breaking increases of new coronavirus infections. This is the highest number of cases logged in one week. By Friday morning on July 17, there were 23,310 new county cases within just that week. Barbara Ferrer, the county health director, stated “Each case represents a person that is capable of, and in all probability is, infecting at least one other person. If you do the math, it is easy to see why the alarm. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “The simple truth of this fight is that the virus is affecting more and more of us every day. “This week we’ve hit concerning milestones,” Ferrer said. “We have reported the most cases in a single day, the most hospitalizations and tragically high death numbers.” Twenty percent of these affected patients are between 18 and 40 years old, which is a higher percent than at any other point during the entire pandemic. The reason for this massive surge in cases since late May is that people have been leaving their homes more. Reasons for leaving the house include going back to work, attending social gatherings, and visiting reopened restaurants and shops. Los Angeles County health officials said that COVID is spreading rapidly in places of work that do not follow safety guidelines laid out by the Center for Disease Control. The highest amount of cases in workplaces have been in food processing and distribution facilities. These include meatpacking plants, garment factories, manufacturing places, and wholesale warehouses. Out of these workplace outbreaks, the largest has been at Los Angeles Apparel. Los Angeles Apparel is a garment manufacturer in South Los Angeles. Out of 2,300 employees, more than 300 have tested positive for the coronavirus. A very big issue during this rise in cases has been the impact on lower-income communities. Los Angeles is home to many Black and Latino people, and these communities have been hit hard. “Unfortunately, a lot of disproportionality can be traced to the fact that a significant number of essential workers are low-income or are people of color,” county health officer Muntu Davis said. “Oftentimes, people who are low-income cannot stay home to work, and early in the pandemic, there were few protections offered at many work sites.” Due to these reasons, these lower-income Los Angeles communities have unfortunately had to bear the brunt of the pandemic struggles.
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