As health inspectors conduct visits to ensure infection control measures are in place in businesses across the county, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (Public Health) has created a tiered compliance and enforcement plan that will include citations and fines for businesses that continue to violate Health Officer Orders.
Since March, Public Health received a total of 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.
Twenty-six restaurants, one grocery store, one pool and 67 other businesses were shut down for Health Officer Order violations. Most of the businesses under investigation either came into compliance or were working to come into compliance and that is why they were not closed.
Compliance with the Health Officer Orders is paramount for the long-term reopening of many economic sectors while ensuring the public health and safety of residents, which includes consumers and those who make up the workforce of these sectors.
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.
“I’m pleased that we’re seeing great compliance in some areas and we want to continue to see that. But we need to plan for the long-term reopening of our economic sectors while ensuring the public health and safety of our residents and our workforce. We want to be reasonable and work with business owners, but we also know that time is of the essence to slow the spread of this virus and protect the health of workers, customers, and their families,” said Barbara Ferrer, director of Public Health.
Health Officer Orders are in place to prevent more cases, more serious illnesses, increased hospitalizations, and more deaths. Current Orders require business owners to close indoor operations at many businesses and take immediate action to implement strategies that protect workers and customers.
Thursday afternoon, Public Health confirmed 49 new deaths and 2,014 new cases of COVID-19. To date, Public Health has identified 166,848 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of L.A. County, and a total of 4,262 deaths. The seven-day daily average testing positivity rate remains relatively stable, currently at 8.4%, and 2,210 are currently hospitalized.
Despite these numbers, county health officer Dr. Muntu Davis said he hopes “this week marks a turning point, and that we’ll start to see the results of our collective actions to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
On Wednesday, Public Health underscored the deadliness of the virus. COVID-19 has killed more than 3,400 people in the first six months of this year, making it on track to be the second leading cause of death in L.A. County. From January to June of last year, coronary heart disease was the top cause of death, with nearly 6,000 deaths attributed to it. It appears that COVID-19, with over 3,400 deaths during the same period, is on track to claim more lives in Los Angeles County than any disease except coronary heart disease. For additional comparison, influenza killed 1,521 people during the 2019 flu season from October to May.