L.A. City and County COVID-19 Weekly Update - California COVID-19 Guidance: Week in Review - July 2020 #4

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

COVID-19 at an Inflection Point in Los Angeles

Last week, Los Angeles was at another inflection point in the County’s fight against COVID-19. While indicators continue to rise, officials have noted reasons for optimism.

At a County briefing on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer provided an update on the overall situation, noting that infections and hospitalizations are rising among younger Angelinos, while seniors remain the majority of deaths. She stated that this week “can be a turning point” on how we respond to the virus. Broadly, Dr. Ferrer said that she was hopeful, in part because we have not seen a sharp increase in infection rates and because hospitalization rates appear to have stabilized.

At the same briefing, LA County Health Director Dr. Christina Ghaly noted that, as the focus of the pandemic has shifted to a younger population, more patients are able to be treated without ICU care and ventilators, reducing the strain on the County’s hospitals and ICUs in particular.

Also, on Wednesday, July 22, 2020, Mayor Garcetti echoed the possibility of a more cautious reopening process in the near future.


During the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, July 21, the Board voted to approve the proposed allocation of $1.22 billion in CARES Act funding. The funds will be used to help pay for the County’s testing and healthcare spending to combat the virus, as well as to provide ongoing assistance to residents impacted by the economic downturn.


On Wednesday, July 22, Dr. Ferrer addressed school reopenings in the County. She noted that the Governor’s July 17, order on school reopening does allow local Health Officers to grant waivers to reopen schools (public or private) in certain grades (T-K to grade 6). School districts will likely be able to apply for these waivers in the next week or two, once the County has fully defined the process. She noted that the process, including the underlying data for any waiver, will be posted publicly. On Thursday, July 23, Dr. Ferrer convened a discussion with local school Superintendents and other education leaders. According to an article in the LA Times, the County’s Department of Public Health said that it may require public school districts seeking a waiver to reopen in the fall to have a letter of support from the teachers’ union in the district.


On Tuesday, July 21, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion to develop a framework that would permit employee-based reporting of violations of County Health Officer Orders and workplace guidelines intended to combat the spread of COVID-19. In moving forward with this proposal, the Supervisors noted that employees could play a crucial role in complementing governmental enforcement at workplaces throughout the County. Enlisting employees to serve as reporting monitors is designed to identify and curtail potential violations. More information is available here.

Manatt will continue to monitor developments around this proposal, including any potential systems ultimately created regarding enforcement of COVID-19 safety regulations.

On Thursday, July 23, the County Department of Public Health also announced that it would be commencing an enforcement plan related to the County’s COVID-19 Health Officer Orders. Per the County’s statement:

Beginning at the end of August, fines will be issued to businesses that are non-compliant that can range from $100 for the first offense to $500 and a 30 day permit suspension for multiple offenses. This includes businesses licensed and permitted by the department and those that are not.

The County noted that since the start of the pandemic, it has received 17,808 Health Officer Order complaints and investigated more than 17,000 restaurants, more than 3,500 grocery stores, more than 600 pools, and more than 3,000 other businesses. In response, the County has shut down 26 restaurants, 1 grocery store, 1 pool, and 67 other businesses for “Health Officer Order violations.”

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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