Dealing with an influx of coronavirus patients that has put its health care system on the brink, Los Angeles County is imposing a mandatory 10-day quarantine on anyone who travels into the area from outside the Southern California region.
The new rules were put in place as officials scramble to curb the spread of COVID-19 amid what public health officials described as the county’s “fastest acceleration” of cases at any point during the pandemic.
In the past month, the number of cases in L.A. County has roughly doubled, from about 400,000 to 800,000. To put that in perspective, it took the county about 10 months to reach 400,000 cases.
An additional 12,488 coronavirus cases were reported in the county Sunday, with another 91 deaths attributed to the virus, according to county health data. More than 7,500 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, with approximately 21% filling up intensive care units.
The latest directive comes after travel to-and-from the region increased over the holidays — something officials fear could worsen the current outbreak if no mitigation steps are taken.
“The strategy for stopping the surge is fairly straightforward. When people stay away from other people, the virus cannot spread as it is doing now,” county Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer explained.
Who has to quarantine:
The order impacts anyone coming to L.A. County from outside Southern California. As defined by the state, the region encompasses the following 11 counties: L.A., Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, El Centro, Inyo and Mono.
The order impacts anyone who travels from beyond those counties — whether it’s by air, auto, train or other form of transportation — and applies to both residents and non-residents.
Travelers arriving at Los Angeles International Airport will have to fill out a mandatory online form, LAX tweeted.
What does the quarantine entail:
Under the public health directive, those who travel for non-essential purposes must quarantine for 10 days upon entering L.A. County. It applies to both residents and non-residents.
The order defines the quarantine as “staying at home or another place of temporary shelter and away from contact with others, including those in one’s household,” according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
During the 10-day period, officials advise those under quarantine to stay away from others and have items such as food and groceries delivered to them.
In addition, out-of-region travelers should monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms for two weeks after coming to the area.
Exemptions to the order:
There are some exceptions regarding who has to quarantine, including licensed health care professionals, those working for essential government or infrastructure, members of professional or college sports teams, and film or media production personnel operating in the county.
Anyone who travels through L.A. County but is not staying overnight also does not need to observe the quarantine.
The mandatory quarantine will be in place until it is modified or ended.
Similar orders have been issued in other parts of the states, including San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.