L.A. County coronavirus warning: Avoid communal food, nonessential travel, large gatherings

Inclement weather and coronavirus kept crowds sparse at Disneyland in Anaheim on Thursday. The park will close Saturday through the end of the month.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles now has 32 coronavirus cases, with more evidence of community spread.

On Thursday, public health officials offered new guidance for the public on how to protect themselves.

CASES: Officials confirmed three new cases, health officials said. Two of the three have an unidentified source of exposure, further evidence of community spread. The third new case was a person who was exposed by a close contact who tested positive after attending a conference in Washington, D.C. One of the patients is hospitalized. The additions bring the total number of cases in L.A. County to 32; this includes four cases in Long Beach and one in Pasadena.


WHAT TO AVOID: People are advised to avoid communal eating, meetings or gatherings with more than 50 attendees and all nonessential travel, both international and domestic, Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, said Thursday at a news conference. Those who are immunocompromised, pregnant or elderly should consider avoiding gatherings of even 10 people, she said. On the communal food front, Costco has stopped providing food samples at stores, while some Las Vegas casinos have closed their buffets.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Those who take public transit should wash their hands before getting on a bus or train and after arriving at their destination, and people should take care to wipe down gym equipment and wash their hands before and after working out, she said. Group fitness classes where people aren’t able to stay 6 feet apart should be avoided entirely, she said.

GOVERNMENT: All city departments were being ordered to postpone or cancel public events and meetings expected to draw 50 or more people. Mayor Eric Garcetti also called for a ban on all public events and conferences on city-owned properties expected to draw 50 or more people. He also said visitors were effectively banned from City Hall.

EVENTS: The state has recommended canceling all large group events. As a result, the Los Angeles Police Department will postpone its graduation ceremony for new officers, which was scheduled for this week at the Los Angeles Police Academy. Pasadena officials announced that the city was canceling all “nonessential” city-sponsored events and activities until further notice. Long Beach announced similar rules.

THEME PARKS: Both Disneyland and Universal Studios will temporarily close.

SCHOOLS: L.A. Unified School District, which has close to 78,000 employees and serves about 700,000 students — including preschoolers and adults — has not closed any schools so far. But Santa Monica and Malibu schools will be closed at least into next week.