L.A. County issues more than 70 COVID-19 citations to local churches, gyms and other businesses

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Los Angeles County health inspectors have issued more than 70 citations to businesses and local churches for not complying with in the past month, officials said.

Fitness centers and churches made up a large percentage of the locations cited since Aug. 29, and several were cited more than once, according to data released by the L.A. County Department of Public Health.

In some cases, health officials also closed down establishments because there were “significant health and safety concerns or flagrant violations of the Health Officer Orders,” including operating indoors in violation of orders from the state or county, the department said in a news release.

While the health department’s efforts initially focused on educating business operators on the COVID-19 health officer order, making sure they’re familiar with mask, social distancing and disinfecting protocols, inspectors started citing noncompliant businesses, because “our protocols are not just guidelines,” Ferrer said.

Coronavirus outbreaks at work sites and food facilities significantly increased when the county green lit reopenings. But once some sectors closed again, the number of worksite outbreaks diminished significantly over time, L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a Monday news conference.

Cases at workplaces peaked in mid-July — with about 256 weekly coronavirus cases reported at general work sites and about 213 weekly cases at food facilities, Ferrer said.

The findings are crucial as officials continue to keep a close eye on coronavirus case numbers that determine whether L.A. County moves forward or stays put under the state’s tiered phases for reopening different sectors. Currently, the county is in the state’s most restrictive tier, the purple one.

L.A. County recorded a steady decrease in the number of new coronavirus cases through August and September — though there was an uptick in cases last week.

“There is significant potential for transmission of COVID-19 at workplaces, making it critically important for employers to adhere to the workplace protocols that require infection control, distancing, masking, and appropriate PPE for all workers,” the health department said in a statement. “This is particularly important since after work, many of us go home to family members and other people we live with, some of whom may be at higher risk for becoming seriously ill from COVID-19.”

Asked about the businesses that were cited several times, L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said it was concerning.

“It is concerning when we don’t have compliance with the measures that are needed in order to slow the spread of this within our county,” he said in a Thursday media briefing.

A full list of the businesses cited by the county can be found on L.A. County’s public health website.

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