While once-troubling rates of coronavirus-related infection and death continue to fall, Los Angeles County health officials said Wednesday residents need to keep physically distancing and avoid gatherings on holidays like Labor Day and Halloween.
Health officials have said they are recommending no trick-or-treating and avoiding some other holiday activities on Halloween over fears of spreading the potentially deadly virus. Trick-treating was previously “not permitted” under county health orders but Ferrer said on Wednesday the county made some changes.
The comments come after a weekend record-breaking heat wave drew some crowds to local beaches on Saturday. The same day, health officials urged residents to avoid gatherings with family and friends from other households over the Labor Day weekend.
The surge in the number of deaths — and patients needing life-saving treatment — peaked two to three weeks after the Fourth of July weekend, and health officials have attributed that spike to a lack of social distancing.
With a death toll exceeding 6,000, L.A. County has long been the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in California given its population and density. Sometimes during the last six months, the county has reported more than half the state’s cases or fatalities.
On Wednesday, county officials reported another 671 cases of the virus, bringing the total to 249,859.
But the progress made over the last month, bringing down the number of hospitalization and deaths since peaking in July, gives some hope, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
“I’m gonna be optimistically hopeful,” Ferrer said. “We have worked so hard and that means we collectively you have worked so hard to drive down our rates. … We had a lot of really really sad days in July.”
She said the county has on its website a list of activities permitted or recommended on Halloween.
“We do offer lots of activities that people can do that offer a fair amount of safety, because we think it’s important that we find ways to celebrate not just Halloween but all of the holidays,” Ferrer said. “But during a pandemic, our ways of celebrating do need to change.”