Anyone who has traveled outside of Southern California and recently returned to Los Angeles County is ordered to quarantine for 10 days due to a coronavirus surge that has pushed the region’s hospitals to the breaking point.
In a statement, the Los Angeles County Health Department said people who immediately go shopping, head back to work or attend any type of gathering after traveling risk passing the virus to others. A revised health order issued Wednesday requires anyone traveling outside the Southern California region to quarantine for at least 10 day upon returning to Los Angeles County.
"Unfortunately, given the amount of travel and holiday intermingling that may be happening over this winter holiday, we all need to be prepared for another surge that will start with even higher case numbers in January," public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Wednesday. "I want to again urge everyone recently returning or coming to Los Angeles County from outside the greater Southern California region – whether you just went to visit family in another state or took a trip north of here – to quarantine at home for a minimum of 10 days. This is required for everyone who traveled for leisure or recreation."
The county said people in quarantine should not leave their homes or allow visitors. Find others to grocery shop for you and help with other essential activities, the health department said in its statement.
The virus can take up to 14 days to incubate, and many people will experience no illness or symptoms.
It was not immediately clear whether or how the quarantine order will be enforced. The statement also did not provide details about distance traveled or length of stay outside the county.
Last month, Mayor Eric Garcetti said travelers arriving in Los Angeles from out-of-state by air or train must sign a form acknowledging the state’s 14-day quarantine advisory.
The travel quarantine order comes as a wave of coronavirus cases has kept ICU capacity in Southern California at %0 for days. A state stay-at-home order, reflecting an order already in effect in LA County, is expected to be extended Tuesday due to the hospital crisis.
Coronavirus Hospital Use Projections Across the Country
This interactive chart uses model data provided by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation to predict how the coronavirus will affect health care resources in different states. In states such as Florida and California, hospital bed use is projected to continue to grow into September and October. Most states have enough general hospital and ICU beds to meet demand, according to additional data from The Associated Press.
Sources: State hospital bed capacity data from the Associated Press. Model data provided by IHME. Note: The model assumes mask use continues at currently observed rates and the gradual easing of social distancing mandates continues. It also assumes the mandate would be re-imposed for six weeks if daily deaths reach 8 per million.
Credit: Amy O’Kruk/NBC
Average daily virus deaths in LA County increased from 12 per day in early November to 84 deaths per day in mid-December, an increased of 600%, according to the county health department. Los Angeles County, which accounts for a quarter of California’s nearly 40 million residents, has about 40% of the state’s 24,000 deaths.
The county is approaching a milestone of 10,000 deaths.
“The sad reality is that all indicators tell us that our situation may only get worse as we begin 2021,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said.
Daily cases typically exceed 13,000 in Los Angeles County with some daily counts of more than 15,000. On Nov. 1, the average number of daily cases was 1,200, marking a stark contrast to the current surge.
Travel over Christmas was expected to create another spike in cases. It may not show up for several weeks because of a lag from the time someone is exposed to the virus to when they get test results and ultimately get sick enough to require hospitalization.
Although there are indications more people are heeding stay-at-home orders that apply to all of the state but northernmost rural counties, there was a bump in air travel in Los Angeles similar to Thanksgiving.
The number of passengers flying out of Los Angeles International Airport was down about 70% from last year between Dec. 21 and 27, but the high of 43,000 on Dec. 23 was only 60% below last year’s figures, spokesman Heath Montgomery said. That was about as busy as the airport has been since the pandemic began.
Editor's Note: The original statement issued Dec. 28 indicated that the quarantine order applies to anyone traveling outside LA County and returning to LA County. This article has been updated to reflect the revised order issued Dec. 30.