With a record-breaking surge in coronavirus cases averaging more than 4,500 per day, Los Angeles County health officials have promised a newly modified stay-at-home order is coming. After a contentious Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday, they have not said when those restrictions might take effect but they gave a preview of what they’ll likely include.

LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer outlined her recommendations for a “targeted” stay-at-home order designed to curtail some nonessential services and reduce capacity at sites where people from different households are mingling.

The plan would:

  • Prohibit all public and private gatherings of people not in the same household except for outdoor church services and outdoor protests, which will require masks and social distancing;
  • Set occupancy limits for outdoor retail businesses at 50% capacity with masks and social distancing required;
  • Set occupancy limits for essential indoor retail businesses at 35% capacity with masks and social distancing required;
  • Set occupancy limits for nonessential indoor retail businesses at 20% capacity with masks and social distancing required;
  • Keep beaches, trails and parks open with masks and social distancing required, except while swimming;
  • Permit walking, running, biking and playing outdoors with masks and social distancing;
  • Keep outdoor recreational facilities open for members of a single household using masks and social distancing;
  • Close pools that are open to more than one household other than for regulated lap swimming;
  • Close or keep closed some nonessential businesses and facilities, including office-based businesses, card rooms, clubs, bars, lounges, playgrounds other than at child care centers or schools, theaters, spectator performances, sporting events, bowling alleys and arcades;
  • Allow child care and day care centers, K-12 schools and day camps, institutions of higher education, libraries, youth sports and spectator-free pro sports to operate largely under current rules; and
  • Continue to adhere to the state curfew prohibiting all gatherings with members of other households from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. other than essential activities, exempting homeless individuals.

Health officials had been warning for days that tight restrictions like these might be coming as the number of cases in LA County accelerated faster than ever.

But the calculus of what rules to enact—and when—may be complicated after two members of the board of supervisors balked this week at a health department order shutting down all in-person dining at restaurants starting at 10 p.m. today (Nov. 25).

That ban is moving forward nevertheless, but it’s unclear what the reaction would be if the health department mandates a new stay-home order.

“Because L.A. County reached a five-day average case rate over 4,500 new cases, Public Health is working with the Board of Supervisors on additional safety measures to reduce transmission of the virus,” Ferrer said in a statement Tuesday.

She said people mixing with others from outside their household, whether it be outside restaurants, at private gatherings or elsewhere, have driven the pandemic to “dangerous levels” that risk overwhelming the health care system.

“Public Health is recommending that gatherings only occur with members of your own household and occupancy at all sites be reduced to avoid crowding,” her statement said.

What does this mean for Long Beach

So, would the new rules apply in Long Beach? Probably.

Long Beach has its own health department, meaning it sets its own public health regulations apart from LA County, but the city has almost always followed the county’s lead, sometimes with minor modifications.

Locally, Long Beach health officials have been sounding the alarm about the current spike in COVID-19 cases.

According to the city, there’s been a 120% increase in new cases in the span of just two weeks—a much steeper curve than in the summer. The number of people in local hospitals has also skyrocketed from 48 to 96 in just two weeks—something that’s drawn concern from local medical facilities, according to a city memo.

The number of Long Beach residents in the hospital—a figure the city tracks separately and reports on its data dashboard—has also increased from 40 a week ago to 50 on Monday, according to the dashboard.

If local authorities decide to, Long Beach could break from the county’s modified stay-at-home order, much like Pasadena did by declining to institute the in-person dining ban. Long Beach and Pasadena are the only two cities in LA County with the power to buck the county because they have their own health departments.

But that doesn’t look likely. Long Beach went along with the dining ban and Mayor Robert Garcia even advocated at least one member of the Board of Supervisors to support it.

At the board’s meeting Tuesday, Supervisor Hilda Solis said she received a text from Garcia saying he hoped she would “do the right thing” and support the three-week ban.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.