Quarantined mayor urges Angelenos to avoid holiday gatherings; more restrictions possible if surge continues

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Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti pleaded with the public to avoid gathering over the holidays after Thanksgiving celebrations resulted in a surge that is “nothing short of staggering,” saying more restrictions could be put in place if the trends continue.

Garcetti himself remained in quarantine Monday after his 9-year-old daughter tested positive for coronavirus a week ago. Garcetti first made his daughter’s test result public on Thursday, in his last livestreamed briefing.

The mayor said it was unclear how his daughter caught the virus but she was expected to be OK, and he and his wife have continued to test negative.

L.A. County remains in the midst of the most startling trends of the pandemic, with hospitals preparing emergency plans in case they need to limit how many people receive life-saving care.

“If you mix with other households, our doctors won’t be able to treat every patient, whether they’re coming in for COVID-19, or for a heart attack, or anything else,” Garcetti warned Angelenos Monday.

In the three weeks since Thanksgiving, the average number of cases reported each day in the county has tripled, from 4,000 to 14,000. And since Nov. 9, the average number of deaths each day increased from 12 to 84, according to the county public health department.

Garcetti said experts have drawn “a straight line” between the current trends and Thanksgiving gatherings.  

“If you gather for the holidays, our hospitals will be overrun,” he said. “This is not a good sign, and it’s a recipe for a Christmas and New Year’s surge.”

To save lives, the mayor said people need to “go to as few places as possible, stop any travel unless it’s essential, stay home as much as possible [and] cancel activities or do them remotely, wherever you can.”

He added that he thinks most people have been adhering to public health guidelines, “but it doesn’t take many people not doing it to allow this virus to exponentially grow.”

As many as 100,000 people could wind up in the state’s already overwhelmed hospitals next month, Gov. Gavin Newsom warned Monday, citing a projection from state public health officials. That number takes into consideration the fact that California has recorded some 525,000 cases in the last two weeks alone.

Newsom also spoke Monday while in quarantine for possible coronavirus exposure after one of his staffers tested positive.

Based on the situation, Newsom said it’s “very likely” the stay-home order in Southern California — scheduled to expire Dec. 28 — will be extended another three weeks.

And if the dire trends continue this week and into next, officials will consider taking L.A. County’s current regulations further, Garcetti said.

“I think we have to look at everything,” he said. “But to be clear, it’s not going to have the bang for the buck that people expect. There’s not a lot more to close.”

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