Tensions Mount In California As Los Angeles Faces 3 More Months At Home

An LA County health official said that “with all certainty” the “Safer At Home” order would be in place through the summer.

Anti-lockdown protesters gather on May 1 in Los Angeles, California. | Getty Images
Anti-lockdown protesters gather on May 1 in Los Angeles, California. | Getty Images

Residents of California’s most populous county will likely be forced to follow stay-at-home orders for the next several months, even as most of the U.S. has eased restrictions and millions of people have been leaving their homes.

Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Tuesday that officials “know with all certainty” that the county would be extending its “Safer At Home” restrictions for another three months, according to KTLA. On Wednesday, Ferrer announced updated guidelines that will apply to some businesses. After her initial comments, LA Mayor Eric Garcettti went on national television to warn residents not to panic.

Conservative opponents of the stay-at-home orders cited the risk of potential economic failure if the county’s residents are expected to avoid social and work life for months at a time, as nearby states including Arizona begin to reopen their economy. Some pointed to those already ignoring the orders potentially rebelling even further. 

Meanwhile, according to a Los Angeles Time poll conducted in April, nearly 95% of Los Angeles residents support stay-at-home orders. At least six other polls showed that the majority of Americans across both political parties support restrictions. 

The news comes as more than half of U.S. states have partially reopened, despite warnings from public health experts including Dr. Anthony Fauci that doing so could lead to “a second wave” of infections. The New York Times also reported that many of the reopened states have failed to meet the federal guidelines that President Trump introduced in mid-April.

After Ferrer’s statements were widely circulated, Supervisor Kathryn Barger released a statement offering further clarification, saying that Ferrer’s comments were “taken out of context.” She added: “Relaxing the restrictions of the ‘Safer At Home’ order is an important focus for the county, which will be done gradually over the next few months.” Barger said she is “eager” to reopen more of the county, but will let science and data guide decisions. 

In an interview with CNN on Tuesday, Garcetti echoed Barger’s sentiment by asking residents not to overreact to the stay-at-home order update. 

“I think quite simply she’s saying we’re not going to fully reopen Los Angeles — and probably anywhere in America — without any protections or any health orders in the next three months,” Garcetti told CNN.

Despite Garcetti’s assurance that the restrictions might look different, he warned that the extension could be longer than three months. 

“We're not moving past COVID-19, we're learning to live with it,” he added. “We're not going to go back to pre-COVID life any time soon.” 

As of Wednesday, LA County had more than 33,000 cases of coronavirus, causing at least 1,613 deaths. The state of California has more than 71,000 cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker
This week, beaches in LA County were reopened for activities including walking, running, swimming and surfing, while the mayor announced on Tuesday that all retail businesses will be allowed to operate in upcoming weeks through online or phone orders with curbside pick-up. On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state has ramped up testing to more than 1 million people, which he said is a critical step in easing restrictions.