Despite Mask Mandate and Strict Stay-at-Home Orders, Los Angeles County First to Hit Grim COVID Milestone


Los Angeles County has been in the spotlight for weeks because of its rising numbers of COVID-19 cases. Now, it has become the first county in America to hit a particularly stunning milestone.

“On Saturday [Jan. 16], Los Angeles reported 1,003,923 confirmed COVID-19 infections and 13,741 deaths,” Alicia Victoria Lozano of NBC News said.

This makes LA County “the first county in the nation to record 1 million coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic,” she said.

The infection milestone comes despite LA County issuing some of the most draconian measures seen anywhere in the country.

On Dec. 30, the county issued a new “Safer at Home Order” that prohibits residents from leaving home for any reason other than essential activities or work, or “to participate in permitted individual or household activities,” such as outdoor exercise.

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The order goes so far as to prohibit any gatherings with people from outside your household. The county apparently thinks it has the right to tell residents who they can and cannot invite to their own private property.

In addition, LA County has been under a strict mask mandate for months. According to the county’s website, all residents over the age of 2 are required to wear a mask indoors and outdoors “when they are interacting with others who are not members of their household in public and private spaces.”

Yet with all these restrictions, LA County has more coronavirus cases than any other county in the entire United States. In fact, Luke Money and Rong-Gong Lin II of the Los Angeles Times reported Jan. 14 that the case numbers are even higher than they appear.

“One in three Los Angeles County residents have been infected with the coronavirus since the beginning of the pandemic, according to new estimates by county scientists,” Money and Lin wrote.

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So, why is it that the county’s numbers are so high?

Despite the evidence, some claim it’s because restrictions are not harsh enough.

“According to Los Angeles County public health officials, the current COVID-19 surge started in early November shortly after they loosened restrictions on businesses and in-person gatherings,” Lozano said.

The subtle suggestion here is that the loosening of the restrictions caused the case numbers to rise. What the NBC reporter didn’t mention is the arbitrary manner in which the restrictions in place are applied.

One example is the county’s hypocritical ban on outdoor dining. While local business owners were forced to close their restaurants for not only indoor but also outdoor dining, movie companies were allowed to stay open and set up outdoor dining spaces of their own.

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In a viral tweet from Jake Coco, Pineapple Hill Saloon and Grill owner Angela Marsden explained her frustration.

Daniella Genovese of Fox News reported that the ban on outdoor dining was put into place Nov. 25 and has faced a fierce backlash from the California Restaurant Association.

Then there was another viral story about LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. KTTV-TV in Los Angeles reported that she dined outdoors at a restaurant near her residence on Nov. 24 — the same day she had voted to ban dining outdoors in LA County.

Obviously, Kuehl decided that she can make her own risk assessments and decide whether she wants to dine at a restaurant outdoors. So why can’t the rest of the residents in LA County make those assessments for themselves?

Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly something to be said for being cautious during a global pandemic. Yet with actions such as these, it can become hard for residents to see further restrictions as anything more than a power trip for politicians and officials.

Still, some continue to push the idea that increasing restrictions equals decreasing cases.

Lozano said the LA County public health director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, “would consider tightening restrictions for businesses, schools and even youth leagues if the current winter surge continues to escalate.”

No matter what officials argue is the cause, the fact is that LA County has reached outrageously high case numbers for COVID-19 despite extremely strict measures to try and slow the spread.

Residents are eventually going to stop believing that more of these same measures will make any difference. Judging by the available evidence, some residents already have.

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Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.
Grant is a graduate of Virginia Tech with a bachelor's degree in journalism. He has five years of writing experience with various outlets and enjoys covering politics and sports.