As we begin the holiday season, in order to protect your health and others, everyone is urged to avoid Thanksgiving gatherings and to find ways to celebrate differently as COVID-19 continues to spread.

People should not attend gatherings with those outside of their immediate household.

 It is frustrating for public health officials to find that — despite all evidence that more people are testing positive and have caused people to die — too many people continue to dismiss the information and ignore warnings.

As a result, stricter measures may now have to be enforced.  

This week, after two straight days of coronavirus case numbers exceeding 3,000, Los Angeles County health officials announced tightened restrictions in response to a COVID-19 surge, requiring restaurants, wineries, breweries and non-essential retail businesses to close at 10 p.m. and limiting their capacity, as well as the capacity of indoor retail shops.

While short of a full-on lockdown, county officials warned on Tuesday, Nov. 17, that if case numbers and hospitalizations continue increasing, sweeping “Safer At Home’’ restrictions will return and a countywide 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew would be imposed.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer says she remains hopeful that if residents get back to strict adherence to protocols such as avoiding gatherings, wearing face coverings and practicing social distancing, particularly over the Thanksgiving holiday, such steps may not be needed.

But, she says, health officials will definitely be making recommendations to the county Board of Supervisors “about what to do if we don’t get the pandemic back under control.”

Los Angeles, including the San Fernando Valley, will be expanding its mobile testing program to provide COVID tests in under-served areas, as well as the establishment of testing at Los Angeles International Airport. Testing will be offered at the Tom Bradley International Terminal and Terminals 2 and 6 beginning this week.

A “super walkup” testing site in the northeastern San Fernando Valley with the capacity to provide 3,000 COVID-19 and flu tests, along with flu shots and rapid antigen testing for people showing COVID symptoms will open by next Monday.

Gov. Gavin Newsom says the state is hitting an “emergency brake” on economic activity, moving 28 counties back to the most restrictive tier of California’s matrix governing business operations.

The move means 41 of the state’s 58 counties are now in the restrictive “purple” tier, which severely restricts capacity at retail establishments, closes fitness centers and limits restaurants to limited outdoor-only service. 

California is tightening its requirements for face coverings, issuing revised rules that mandate everyone wear a mask at all times outside the home when within six feet of people from other households.

The revised guidance issued Monday, Nov. 16, states that residents “must wear face coverings when they are outside the home,” unless they are more than six feet away from other people.

People who are outdoors but not close to anyone else do not have to wear a mask, but they must have one with them to put on in case they come within six feet of other people. The rules apply to anyone aged 2 or older, but exempt people with specific medical conditions and those who are hearing impaired or communicating with a hearing-impaired person.

Other exemptions to the rule include:

— people in a car alone or with members of their own household;

— people working alone in an office or room;

— people who are “actively eating or drinking”; and

— workers who must wear respiratory protection.

The state has long called on residents to wear face coverings in public, particularly while in close contact with others. The new rules broaden previous guidance that provided recommendations on when people should wear masks.