SoCal counties toughen restrictions, stay-at-home rules as statewide COVID-19 cases top 20,000

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As the number of COVID-19 cases reached 20,000 in the Golden State on Friday, areas around Southern California have tightened restrictions to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

Los Angeles County, which has seen over 8,400 cases and 241 deaths, extended its stay-at-home order on Friday to last through at least May 15. 

The county’s beaches, piers, bike path and trailheads will remain closed through then.  

The county also mandated that employees at essential businesses, as well as residents who visit them, wear some type of mask beginning midnight April 15. 

A similar order went into effect Friday in the city of Los Angeles. 

Businesses such as grocery stories, pharmacies and restaurants offering takeout will be allowed to deny service to customers who don’t have a facial covering that protects the mouth and nose, as required under the order issued by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. Those who violate the measure could face a fine, jail time or both. 

L.A. County also said it will close all of its community and recreational parks, botanic gardens and lakes on Easter Sunday to prevent potential gatherings. 

The move was made in an anticipation of a large volume of crowds at those places for the holiday, officials said.

Meanwhile, a total of three crewmembers aboard the USNS Mercy have tested positive for COVID-19, naval officials confirmed Friday. The hospital ship is docked in the Port of Los Angeles, providing extra hospital beds to treat non-COVID-19 patients and ease crowding at land-based hospitals.

The first infection among the crew was announced Wednesday, with two more cases reported Friday.

“The COVID-positive crewmembers are currently isolated off-ship, and will continue to self-monitor,” according to U.S. Navy Lt. Andrew Bertucci. “This will not affect the ability for Mercy to receive patients. The ship is following protocols and taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of all crewmembers and patients on board.”

To the south, further restrictions have also taken hold in Orange County. 

Newport Beach on Friday announced it would temporarily bar surfing at the Wedge and shutter access at adjacent beaches to discourage spectators from gathering. The closures will be in place daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., according to the city. 

In Santa Ana, a number of road closures and lane restrictions will be in place Sunday as police conduct a large-scale operation to crack down on car cruising, annual Easter tradition, the department stated in a news release

The following areas will be impacted: Bristol Street from 17th Street to Callen’s Common; Main Street from 17th Street to Dyer Road; Edinger Avenue from Main Street to Raitt Street; and Harbor Boulevard between Westminster Avenue and Edinger Avenue.

In Riverside County, officials are trying to ensure that residents comply with coronavirus orders by introducing a new feature on its mobile app that allows people to report violators. 

The feature, launched Thursday on RivCoMobile, allows users to anonymously report nonessential businesses that remain open, unauthorized gatherings and anyone who doesn’t follow public health orders, such as the recent one to wear a facial covering out in public. 

And the county announced Friday it would allow drive-in religious services through the weekend, provided proper physically distancing is practiced. Such activities will be prohibited, however, after Easter Sunday, officials said in a statement.

San Bernardino County officials, meanwhile, are urging residents there to stay home for Easter and attend virtual services online instead of in-person ones. 

The county had initially banned even drive-in services before reversing course. 

 “Organizations that have planned such services for the coming weekend should proceed with those services if they choose to do so and make every effort to prevent contact between congregant,” the county clarified. 

Officials also told residents they couldn’t leave their homes to buy pre-packaged Easter eggs and bags of candy, which they described as being “nonessential” items. 

In addition, an order requiring residents to wear a protective face covering when leaving home went into effect this week.

And as a series of recent storms brought heaps of fresh white powder to local mountains, all ski resorts and snow play areas have been shut down in San Bernardino County. 

“The mountains are closed to visitors for now,” county Supervisor Janice Rutherford said in a statement. 

Finally, officials in Ventura County announced Thursday that most public and private gatherings of over two people outside a single household or living unit have been temporarily barred as parts of its stay-at-home order.

However, the order permits some exemptions, including staffing of up to seven people for virtual faith-based services.  

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