When it comes to containing COVID-19, things aren’t looking good in Southern California. In Ventura County, a surge in cases has completely filled local emergency rooms and intensive care units. In Orange County, where people really hate wearing masks, the rate of new cases has double week over week. And here in L.A., Mayor Eric Garcetti is warning that locals could once again be ordered to stay at home if the county’s infection rate doesn’t get under control.
In his Wednesday evening briefing, Garcetti revisited the city’s new color-coded warning system. The city is currently at “threat level orange,” which means risk is high and residents should “minimize all contact” with people outside of their own households. If the city makes it to “threat level red,” aka extreme risk, stay-at-home orders could be reinstated.
“If things get worse, that dial could move to red in this coming week or two,” Garcetti said. “That would place us at the highest risk of infection, and we’d likely return to a mandated safer-at-home order. But, if things get better, we’ll see that dial back down to yellow, indicating we’re successfully flattening the curve again.”
According to the city’s website, the threat level indicator is being updated on a weekly basis, but could be updated more frequently “if necessary.” Garcetti didn’t say exactly what stats would move the dial to red—i.e. how much or how rapidly the case count or infection rate would have to rise—but threat level red is described as “Severe and uncontrolled level of COVID-19 infection is spreading in the community and overwhelming the health care system. Outbreaks are spreading rapidly and testing and contract tracing is strained or above capacity. Hospitals are at capacity or overwhelmed. ”
Post-Memorial Day weekend, when quarantine fatigue resulted in people prematurely bucking safety suggestions, L.A. County’s stats have been on the rise. Earlier this week, the county had its biggest day-over-day case count increase, though it was largely due to a backlog of tests following the Fourth of July holiday.
“This isn’t complicated: Do not get together with someone who’s not in your household,” Garcetti said Wednesday. “These weeks are absolutely critical: critical to whether schools open, whether our economy and our economic recovery path continues. These weeks are critical for saving lives.”