So-called ‘quarantine fatigue’ contributes to rising death toll

You could spread virus without having symptoms

OW Staff Writer | 7/3/2020, midnight

While avoiding laying blame for the recent spike in coronavirus cases, Los Angeles County health officials said this week that restaurants and bars continue to fall short of meeting public-safety protocols, and without a dramatic reversal in public behavior to control the virus, “we will see a lot more deaths.’’

The latest statistics compiled by local health officials estimate that on average, one in every 140 people in Los Angeles County is infected with COVID-19 and capable of spreading it to others, likely without having any symptoms or even knowing they are carrying the virus.

That figure has dramatically changed from last week, when the estimate was one in every 400 people.

“What this means is that Angelenos in the activities of daily living when they go out are very likely to be in the locations or near persons who are currently infectious, and in fact a large typical store is likely to have multiple infectious persons enter the shop every day,’’ said Dr. Roger Lewis, who leads the county’s statistical modeling efforts.

Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s health services director, noted the “stark change’’ in hospitalizations over the past week, with more than 1,700 people currently hospitalized, up from an average of about 1,400 just two weeks ago. She said if that trend continues, the county could quickly run out of intensive-care unit beds, forcing hospitals to adjust operations and create additional ICU space.

Health officials acknowledged the problem of “quarantine fatigue,” noting that residents are anxious to get back to normal life and may see the reopening of businesses across the county as a sign the virus is disappearing – leading to a lack of social distancing and a failure to wear face coverings.

County public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said that problem played out over the past two weeks, noting that the weekend of June 20, roughly 500,000 people visited bars and nightlife spots.

Responding to that surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered all bars closed in Los Angeles County. Ferrer noted that Los Angeles County enacted an amended local health order within hours of that announcement, a hint that the county was already preparing to make such a move before Newsom’s proclamation.

Ferrer said restaurants and bars continued over the weekend struggling to fully adhere to all of the safety protocols for operating. She said of the establishments visited by inspectors over the weekend, 49 percent of bars and 33 percent of restaurants were failing to meet physical distancing requirements. She said 54 percent of bars and 44 percent of restaurants were violating the requirement that workers wear face masks and shields.

“I think we are a little bit discouraged, you know, three weeks out (from) the restaurants reopening for in-person dining we still have almost half of our restaurants not in compliance,’’ she said. “... We’ve seen examples of overcrowding at our beaches and some of our public spaces and again noticed that people are not wearing their face coverings and not physical distancing.’’