With coronavirus infections in Los Angeles rising to levels not seen in months, Mayor Eric Garcetti on Monday repeated the state and county’s advice to avoid travel and announced that the city will ramp up its enforcement efforts against businesses that don’t follow COVID-19 rules. 

“This virus is causing more people in more places, more rapidly to get sick than any time since the earliest days of this crisis,” Garcetti said in a virtual briefing. “Los Angeles is in a very dangerous situation; the alarm bells are ringing.”

New coronavirus cases in L.A. County topped 3,000 two days in a row over the weekend. The county recorded 3,780 cases of the virus on Saturday, the highest one-day total since mid-July. On Sunday, officials reported 3,061 new cases.

And on Monday, when case counts are typically lower due to a reporting backlog over the weekend, the county reported 2,795 new cases, while the city of Los Angeles reported 1,245 new infections.

The county is also seeing a steep increase in coronavirus-related hospitalizations.  

“To give you a sense of the pace of this, across the county there are just 557 available beds, including 451 acute care beds and 106 ICU beds available,” Garcetti said. “But we have 308 ICU patients as of today, who are severely sick — a staggering increase since last month.”

With the holidays just around the corner, Garcetti reiterated county and state officials’ warnings to avoid travel unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“If you don’t have essential travel, don’t travel,” the mayor implored. “If you don’t have to take a trip as an essential worker or because of a family emergency, don’t travel. And if you do have to travel, you will have to quarantine. Not for a day or two, not for a positive test or two, but for 14 days.”

California officials last Friday issued a travel advisory asking those entering the state to self-quarantine for two weeks amid a spike in cases ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

In an effort to stem the rising transmission rates in the region, which doubled in the past week, Garcetti said the city would ramp up enforcement of its current public health rules.

“I have directed our city departments to expand enforcement efforts for businesses not in compliance with our public health protocols,” Garcetti said. “We will issue citations under the administrative citation enforcement program, and revoke permits for businesses who violate our requirements and put all of us at risk.”

The city is also taking steps to beef up its testing program, including with a new site at Los Angeles International Airport for those who do travel, the mayor said. There will now be a 24-hour rapid testing site at Bradley International Terminal and terminals 2 and 6 beginning “early this week.”

A “super walk-up” site will also Nov. 23 in the northeast San Fernando Valley, at a specific location to be determined, that will provide approximately 3,000 daily COVID-19 and flu tests, flu shots and rapid antigen testing for people with symptoms.

The skyrocketing number of new coronavirus cases seen in L.A. County mirrors that seen throughout the state, with California officials on Monday announcing that they were pulling the “emergency brake” on sector reopenings.

County public health officials on Monday continued to urge residents to follow infection-prevention protocols, adding that they will be weighing additional restrictions if the county’s trajectory doesn’t improve.

“Take this seriously and follow the rules, and let’s beat back this virus once and for all,” Garcetti said. “Stay safe, stay healthy, and please, stay at home.”

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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