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Nearly 200 arrested by police "superspreader" task force in Los Angeles

U.S. sees deadliest week of COVID pandemic yet
U.S. sees deadliest week of pandemic yet as vaccine rollout lags 02:05

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department made massive arrests Saturday night in an operation against underground parties. The sheriff's office raided two locations and arrested 182 people as part of a large crackdown enforcing COVID-19 restrictions in the area.

In a tweet, the department said Sheriff Alex Villanueva has made it clear he will seek out and take action against "all underground party events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County."

The arrests were made by the department's superspreader task force, whose goal is to "reduce the spread of COVID-19" and the risk to vulnerable populations in California. While the two locations were confirmed to be commercial buildings, the sheriff's department did not release where the parties were located or the names of those arrested.

LA parties COVID
Police bust a party in Los Angeles on January 9, 2021. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department/Twitter

Every county in Southern California is currently under strict COVID-19 restrictions. Residents are advised to stay home as much as possible, and all indoor dining establishments and gyms are closed. Gatherings with people outside your household are prohibited. 

This isn't the first time Los Angeles has taken drastic measures to stop illegal partying. In August, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti authorized the city's power and water department to cut off services for those who threw large parties. 

Police bust a party in Los Angeles on January 9, 2021. Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department/Twitter

California has continued to see rising death tolls across the state, reaching over 30,000 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to Johns Hopkins University. While it ranks third nationally, behind Texas and New York, California's hospitals are at a breaking point.

Dr. Brad Spellberg, the chief medical officer of the L.A. County-USC Medical Center, the region's largest hospital, told CBS News the state is getting crushed.

"We have not seen that post-December surge. If we do, the entire Southern California health care system will fall apart," he said. "This is what happens when people don't do what public health tells them to do. The system collapses."

Governor Gavin Newsom has announced the opening of mass vaccination sites at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, Petco Park in San Diego and Cal Expo in Sacramento. "Our goal continues to be fast, equitable, and safe vaccinations statewide," Newsom tweeted Monday. 

Jonathan Vigliotti contributed reporting.

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