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LA County To Start Fining Businesses Violating Health Orders As COVID Cases Spike

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Starting at the end of August, businesses that fail to comply with local health orders to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus will face fines of up to $500, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health announced Thursday.

People wearing face coverings wait in line to shop at Walmart, July 22, 2020 in Burbank, California. - The country's most populous state reported a record 12,807 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

"I'm pleased that we're seeing great compliance in some areas and we want to continue to see that," Dr. Barbara Ferrer, county public health director, said. "But we need to plan for the long-term reopening of our economic sectors while ensuring the public health and safety of our residents and our workforce."

Businesses cited for noncompliance will face a $100 fine for the first offense and up to a $500 fine and 30-day permit suspension for multiple offenses, the department said.

All businesses in Los Angeles County, including those not licensed and permitted by the department, are subject to enforcement.

"We want to be reasonable and work with business owners, but we also know that time is of the essence to slow the spread of this virus and protect the health of workers, customers, and their families," Ferrer said.

Since March, the department said it had received 17,808 reports of businesses violating local health orders and had investigated more than 17,000 restaurants, 3,500 grocery stores, 600 pools and 3,000 businesses in other sectors.

Of those investigated, 26 restaurants, one grocery store, one pool and 67 businesses in other sectors were ordered closed after failing to come into compliance with local health orders.

The move comes as health officials reported an additional 49 virus-related deaths and 2,014 additional cases, bringing countywide totals to 4,262 deaths and 166,848 confirmed cases.

As of Thursday, there were 2,210 confirmed cases currently hospitalized, 28% of which were being treated in intensive care units and 19% of which were on ventilators.

This is the fifth consecutive day with more than 2,200 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, and Dr. Armand Dorian, chief medical officer at USC Verdugo Hills, said his front-line workers were exhausted.

"The hospitals have four walls, and those don't tire, electricity doesn't tire, but the human aspect tires," he said. "It's very difficult to motivate yourself to go into the storm when you see people getting hurt or getting sick because they didn't do some simple basic things."

With test results available for nearly 1.59 million people, the county reported an overall 10% positivity rate.

Also on Thursday, state Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Sacramento, urged Gov. Gavin Newsom to shut down most counties and return to a stay-at-home order immediately.

"He's appealed for people to wear masks, he's closed the bars and indoor restaurants, none of those actions are enough, look at the numbers," Glazer said.

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