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Stay-At-Home Order Likely In LA County After Officials Report Record-High Daily COVID-19 Case Count

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) -- One day after releasing plans to nix in-person dining for three weeks, Los Angeles County reported another record-high daily number of cases.

On Monday, 6,124 new COVID-19 cases were confirmed — by far the highest single-day total since the beginning of the pandemic.

Public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that 1,500 of those cases were the result of a testing backlog from Sunday. But, even without those cases, the cases from Monday are still high enough to trigger yet another, stricter health order.

According to thresholds the county released last week, a renewed Safer-At-Home order would be implemented if the county's five-day average of new cases topped 4,500, or if hospitalizations topped 2,000. The order would last for at least three weeks.

The details of the new "targeted" Safer at Home order are not clear. Health officials are expected to have a conversation with the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday about what the order will look like.

However, health officials said last week that the order would generally allow only essential and emergency workers and those securing essential services to leave their homes.

"I know for sure we're not going back to all of the restrictions that were in place in the original Safer At Home order (issued at the beginning of the pandemic),'' Ferrer said. "For one thing, we've learned a lot more. We have much more capacity on testing now, which allows us to do a better job quickly identifying people who are positive. And to everyone's credit, this is a county that when we had a surge before was able to, in fact, get back to slowing the spread.

"It did require us making some decisions about closing some sectors, but O think again this will be a conversation with the board,'' she said. "And, you know, (I) appreciate that we have five supervisors... We've been working together since March and appreciate that this is something that will require deliberation and conversation so that we actually can mark a path forward.''

After reaching a 4,000 five-day daily average of cases on Sunday, the county released a health order requiring in-person dining to shut down at restaurants, wineries and breweries as of 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Although the Board of Supervisors signed off on these thresholds before they were released, Supervisor Kathryn Barger said on Monday that she plans to formally oppose the elimination of in-person dining.

"These proposed measures by the Department of Public Health will further devastate local businesses and employees who have been asked to shoulder an unfair burden this year,'' Barger said in a statement.

Barger said that only 10-15% of positive COVID-19 cases are related to dining with someone who tested positive. Closing outdoor dining could also create the unintended consequence of prompting more private gatherings, she said.

"Businesses have made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families,'' Barger said. "Increased case counts are not coming from businesses reopening, but from large gatherings where people aren't wearing masks. We aren't helpless in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and can protect ourselves and our neighbors by maintaining physical distancing and wearing face coverings.''

Board member Janice Hahn also expressed concern about the ban on in-person dining.

"While I know our case counts are growing rapidly, I would have rather discussed this measure openly during our Board of Supervisors meeting so that the public could understand the rationale behind it,'' Hahn tweeted. "Some of these restaurants are barely hanging on. I hope this isn't the last nail in their coffins. I wish we could have figured out a way to put in more restrictions rather than completely shutting down dining.''

The new cases announced on Monday increased the county's cumulative cases total to 370,636. The county also confirmed eight more deaths, raising the death toll to 7,446.

Hospitalizations rose to 1,473 from 1,401 on Sunday. Hospitalizations have more than doubled since the beginning of October.

Ferrer also noted that the surge in cases is not just the result of increased testing. She said the county's rising rate of positive tests shows that the virus is spreading more rapidly.

The county's seven-day average daily positivity rate among those tested for the virus was 3.9% on Nov. 1, but it rose to 5.1% by Nov. 8 and stood at 7.1%. as of Saturday.

(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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