Los Angeles county intensifies restrictions as COVID-19 cases spike

Store+in+Glendale+amidst+the+pandemic+and+after+the+new+Los+Angeles+County+restrictions+were+announced.+

Graphic courtesy of Narineh Madikians ('23).

Store in Glendale amidst the pandemic and after the new Los Angeles County restrictions were announced.

Los Angeles county has reported over 409,000 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, a number that continues to grow at an average of 4,500 cases per day. Governor Gavin Newsom recently reported that California would instate a new Safer at Home order in hope to fight the growing cases.  

These new restrictions only apply to the counties categorized withzin the purple tier, meaning that they report over 8% of positive cases over the span of seven days. This includes Los Angeles County, as it has the most cases in all of California. 

Many may wonder what these new restrictions mean for Los Angeles and Webb specifically. With in-person sports returning, Webb students wonder how the safer at home order may affect the continuation of in-person practices. 

“It is certainly possible that LA County will change its guidelines that currently allow youth sports to practice,” said Steve Wishek, Director of Athletics and Afternoon Activities. Webb will continue to follow the guidance of our Medical Advisory Board which continually monitors current numbers both in LA County and more locally. I can say Webb intends to continue with practices as long as the county allows us to do so and our medical advisory board feels it is safe to do so.” 

Webb sports practices will not be affected by this new safer at home order, but students may still wonder what this means for reopening in the future. With new restrictions in place, it may feel like reopening could be delayed. 

“Moving forward, in order for schools to be allowed to offer full in-person programs in Los Angeles County, we must move out of the state of California’s most restricted tier (purple) and stay in the next tier down (red) for at least two weeks,” said Taylor Stockdale, Head of Schools, and Dr. Theresa Smith, Associate Head of Schools, in their letter of reopening to students. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation with our Medical Advisory Board and now plan for a possible return to campus following February Break.” 

The new Safer at Home order differs from a complete shutdown because it only applies to counties, rather than the entire state. The Safer at Home order advises people not leave their house unless it is to travel to work at essential businesses or perform or receive healthcare services. The guidelines also permit religious gatherings and protests to take place. 

Retail stores, outdoor museums, galleries, zoos and aquariums can stay open with new capacity limits. Essential retail stores can remain open with a 35% capacity limit. Non-essential retail stores, personal care services, and libraries have a 20% capacity limit. Fitness centers operating outdoors, museums, outdoor and indoor galleries, zoos, aquariums, and batting cages, may remain open with a 50% maximum capacity limit. All restaurants and dining services are also closed and can now only offer takeout or drivethrough services 

The new restrictions also prohibit gatherings of two or more households. However, they do allow people from the same household to participate in activities permitted by the Safer at Home order. These new restrictions began at 12:01 a.m. on November 31st and will stay in place through December 20th.  

The California Health Department also released a new statement on masks. This statement states that it is now mandatory for all Californians to wear a mask when they leave their home.  

Less than a week with the Safer at Home order in place, Governor Newsom released an even stricter order that applies to the same purple tier counties. ICUs and hospitals are reaching their capacity and they cannot handle a new surge of cases. The new order states that in counties where ICUs and hospitals reach less than 15% capacity that all restaurants, self-care services, and other non-essential businesses must shut down. Activities that will be permitted are outdoor fitness services, religious gatherings, organized protests, and essential retail businesses.  

As numbers grow so does Americans’ fear. California government officials hope that these new restrictions will help reduce the number of cases to continue reopening safely.  

The growing cases are the reason Los Angeles county has stayed in the purple tier and why Webb has not been able to reopen. According to Webb’s reopening plans, if Los Angeles continues to stay in the purple tier by February, Webb may not be able to reopen as promised; however as of now, Webb still stands for a reopening in February.  

“I want schools to reopen, as I believe having schools open is the best thing for our children’s mental and physical health,” said Sarah Lantz, VWS Dean of Students. “But schools should reopen when it is safe to do so. It’s difficult to say at this time whether the current increase in cases will influence what Webb does in February” 

Webb is being guided by our Medical Advisory Board which takes all factors into account when making decisions,” said Dean Lantz. I trust their decision about Module 5 and Webb’s reopening will be based on all current knowledge and virus spread rates at the time.” 

Dean Lantz explains that nothing is for certain, but students can put their trust in Webb to make the safest decision for their students. Webb students remain hopeful as we begin to see sports practices on campus and new restrictions in place, which will hopefully reduce the cases to help ensure reopening of the school in the near future.