Watch CBS News

Déjà Vu? Latest COVID Spike Has Businesses Concerned Once Again

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - For many Angelenos, the first round of COVID-19 lockdowns was more than enough. Businesses were left reeling, clutching at pennies and fighting to recover the countless amounts of lost income that came at the hands of the pandemic.

And then there was the second lockdown, which spanned over much of the holiday season, and into the beginning of 2021. Once again, many businesses were left out to dry, while some had to close their doors for good.

With the threat of the fifth surge of the coronavirus seemingly creeping closer by the day, business owners are once again feeling the pinch of the pandemic.

Health experts warn that tighter limitations may be coming, something reflected in the statewide mask mandate instituted on December 15.

One industry that took some of the hardest blows during the first and second round of COVID-19 restrictions was the food service industry. While many restaurant owners are fighting to save face during this sudden spike in numbers nationwide, it's easy to see that behind the scenes they're even more worried this time around.

"Restaurant owners across the country are on edge," said Caroline Styne a restauranteur and Independent Restaurant Coalition Board member. "It's still a struggle, we're all short on staff and resources. I do fear that this is going to push some restaurants into permanent closure. It's feeling very March 2020 right now I have to say."

Her worries are well-founded. As patrons begin to panic once again, reservations are being cancelled, and in-person dining numbers have begun to dwindle.

The news of the highly-transmissible Omicron variant overtaking the Delta variant as the prevalent variant in the United States broke on Monday afternoon, as Los Angeles County reported it's fourth-consecutive day of positive cases reaching over the 3,000 mark, with 3,258. 60 of those are reported to be of the Omicron variant. The county also reported an additional seven deaths and 743 hospitalizations.

Once again, the world of sports and entertainment has suffered some devastating blows as well, as dozens of cancellations and postponements have begun to flood the web.

Grand Park's New Year's Eve celebration, intended to be an in-person event to ring in 2022 was suddenly turned into a broadcast-only event, in light of the recent COVID-19 numbers.

"A Christmas Carol" showings at the Ahmanson Theater were cancelled for over a week, removing one of Los Angeles's most popular Holiday events, as breakthrough cases tore through the theater company.

The sports world has suffered blow after blow in recent weeks, as teams have had their rosters decimated by players added to respective COVID-19 lists or placed into COVID protocols. Some teams have had games postponed, canceled or moved just so they can fill a full team. College basketball programs all over Southern California have indefinitely put their seasons on hold, as cases, or close-contact concerns run rampant.

On Monday, the NHL announced that their entire season would postponed for almost a week.

It doesn't stop there, as universities began to threaten the return of virtual learning, including USC. The school has also mulled the idea of mandating booster shots to return to in-person learning for the Spring 2022 semester, something Pomona College has already announced as a new requirement for students.

Ran Tao, a USC graduate student, hasn't been home to see her family in almost two years due to the pandemic. Somehow, she maintains optimism in the face of the recent downward trend, "It not easy, but everyone's healthy. So, I'm really thankful for that."

Experts have reported data that shows booster shots, especially of the Moderna vaccine, are highly protective against the Omicron variant, and while the new variant is more transmissible, the symptoms displayed in vaccinated patients who do contract the virus are extremely mild.

Over 66% of Californians are fully-vaccinated, and a recent study from the Los Angeles Mayor's Office shows that 80% of all city employees have complied with the vaccine mandate. On Monday, 244 full-time employees were placed on unpaid leave in response to the deadline set by the mandate.

Doctor Ilan Shapiro, Medical Director of Health Education and Wellness at Altamed shared some of the issues pressing the healthcare industry as well on Monday, stating that, "We're feeling a big frustration, that all of the suffering of people that are unvaccinated can be prevented."

With the Christmas holiday less than a week away, experts urge family members planning on big family gatherings to reconsider, get tested, or gather outside.

EMERGENCY COMPONENT - LOCAL

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.