New coronavirus warning: Don’t visit family; exercise only in your area

A sign emphasizing social distancing on a beach
A sign emphasizing social distancing is posted at a virtually deserted Main Beach in Laguna Beach on March 19.
(Marc Martin / Los Angeles Times)

A health officer in California is urging people to exercise only in their own immediate neighborhoods, and to stop visiting family in other households, as local authorities across California urge people to avoid worsening the coronavirus outbreak.

In Los Angeles, trails in Griffith Park and Runyon Canyon Park were closed. The state has also ordered parking lots closed in dozens of state beaches and parks, including the lots at Point Dume, Topanga and Will Rogers State Historic Park.

“For families in different households, do not mix your households at this time. As hard as this is, do not gather in any way outside of immediate households,” Dr. Scott Morrow, health officer in San Mateo County, said in a statement.

“As for outdoor exercise, people certainly need to get out, but do this in your own immediate neighborhoods,” Morrow said. “Do not drive except to provide or obtain an essential service. Do not go into other neighborhoods for recreation. This increases the risk of virus spread.”


The spread of the new coronavirus continues its exponential growth. By Wednesday afternoon, 65 people in California have died from COVID-19, and nearly 3,000 cases have been reported. Santa Clara County has reported 17 deaths; Los Angeles County, 13; Riverside County, seven; and San Mateo County, five.

Hospitals in California have been rushing to prepare for the surge of COVID-19 patients expected to come. San Francisco leaders said Wednesday that it was plausible the city could face a crisis similar to that of New York City and fall short of 1,500 ventilators and 5,000 hospital beds.

“Our world has changed, and we need to adhere to the letter and the spirit of the shelter-in-place order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities. When this is over, you will again be able to enjoy the beautiful and bountiful opportunities to be in the nature that surrounds us,” Morrow said.

The latest maps and charts on the spread of COVID-19 in California.

In a statement issued Monday night, Morrow chastised people who weren’t taking the statewide stay-at-home order seriously.

“If you decide you want to do your own thing and follow your own rules, you disrespect us all. You spit in our face, and you will contribute to the death toll that will follow,” Morrow said. “For those of you who say: ‘nobody tells me what to do,’ now is a time to make an exception. You can go back to being ornery in the future.”

Parking lots at state beaches and parks were also ordered shut in the counties of San Diego, Marin, San Mateo and Sonoma, including at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Half Moon Bay State Beach and Mount Tamalpais State Park.

Several county parks in San Mateo County have also been closed. East of San Francisco, the East Bay Regional Park District announced Wednesday that it would close several parks and parking lots as well as all picnic areas, sports fields, restrooms and playgrounds.