As Los Angeles County continues to see an unprecedented wave of coronavirus cases, travelers returning to the region must quarantine.
Everyone who traveled out of the county is required to quarantine for 10 days upon return, the L.A. County Department of Public Health announced in a press release Monday. If a person begins to experience symptoms of the virus or tests positive, they should isolate for 10 days and until they are fever-free for 24 hours.
Individuals in quarantine should not leave their home or receive visitors, and should instead find others who can buy groceries or other essential items for them, according to the department.
“For those who traveled outside of L.A. County and recently returned, you may have had an exposure to COVID-19,” officials said. “The virus can take up to 14 days to incubate, and for many people the virus causes no illness or symptoms. If you go back to work, go shopping or go to any gatherings at any point over the next 10 days, you could easily pass on the virus to others.”
The announcement did not indicate whether people who violate the requirement will be penalized.
Last month, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced that out-of-state travelers arriving in the city by air or train must sign a form acknowledging the state’s 14-day quarantine advisory.
The form, available at travel.lacity.org, acknowledges that anyone traveling to California from other states or countries should quarantine for 14 days and limit interactions to their immediate household. All travelers over the age of 16 must fill out the form before or upon their arrival by submitting their name and contact information.
San Francisco also issued its own travel order this month, requiring anyone visiting the city from outside the Bay Area to quarantine for 10 days. Violating the order is a misdemeanor.
The number of COVID-19 patients in L.A. County’s hospitals has been growing ever since late October. For the first time, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients on any single day exceeded 7,000, a milestone that occurred Sunday — and was 10 times greater than the number in early October, when fewer than 700 people were hospitalized.
As of Monday morning, there were only 54 available ICU beds across L.A. County, and half of them were for pediatric patients. Dr. Christina Ghaly, the L.A. County health services director, said that two-thirds of staffed ICU beds in L.A. County are filled with COVID-19 patients.
“All hospitals are experiencing this strain, but it’s especially more pronounced and more serious for some of the smaller hospitals,” Ghaly said. “Many hospitals have reached a crisis point and are having to make many tough decisions about patient care.”
Virtually all hospitals in the county are being forced to divert ambulances with certain types of patients for most of the day because they are too crowded. On Sunday, 94% of the county’s hospitals that take in 911 calls were diverting certain types of patients in ambulances away.
“But soon, there won’t be any places for these ambulances to go,” Ghaly said. “If every hospital is on diversion, then no hospital is on diversion.”