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The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health admitted that there is no hard scientific evidence linking a coronavirus surge to outdoor dining, an admission that is inconsistent with their decision to shut down this form of dining for three weeks.
The agency attended a Board of Supervisor’s meeting on Tuesday, with L.A. Public Health official Dr. Muntu Davis saying “as a public health department we have to look at the highest risks, and where we can reduce those risks,” noting that restaurants fit the high-risk category, Fox Business reported.
A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study was cited, which found patients in eleven outpatient healthcare facilities in 10 states were twice as likely to have dined out — the problem is, the study doesn’t differentiate between indoor and outdoor dining.
Fox LA reporter Bill Melugin tweeted: “The Health Department just admitted they don’t have specific numbers tying outdoor dining in LA to a surge in cases, and said they’re going off of a CDC study.”
What’s happening on this L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting call is remarkable. The Health Department just admitted they don’t have specific numbers tying outdoor dining in LA to a surge in cases, and said they’re going off of a CDC study. Board is pressing them. @FOXLA
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 24, 2020
In a follow up tweet, Melugin suggested the health official based their position on the aforementioned CDC study, pointing out two flaws with those results.
The first being that the study was across the U.S., he noted, and the second flaw being that it “does not discern between indoor and outdoor dining.”
I’m assuming this is the study they are basing this off of, which is problematic for two reasons.
1) It is across the U.S.
2) It does not discern between indoor and outdoor dining.https://t.co/Rsvc8c6aeM
— Bill Melugin (@BillFOXLA) November 24, 2020
Starting Wednesday, restaurants, wineries and breweries in the county are limited to pick-up, drive-thru and/or delivery services.
The California Restaurant Association sought a court order in Los Angeles Superior Court to bar suspension of outdoor dining, but it was rejected by a judge, according to Deadline.
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation estimates that about 700,000 food industry jobs could be lost, with 75% of those losses affecting workers earning $50,000 or less annually, the online news source reported.
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chair Kathryn Barger said she “cannot in good conscience” support the order, saying the closures were “arbitrary and punitive.”
“I feel that what is happening today is truly going to devastate not only the workers but their families,” Barger added.
Pointing to what she said was unprecedented pushback, Supervisor Janice Hahn warned that the public is “really losing faith and trust in the decisions that we are making.”
She asked why the health department couldn’t just target restaurants not adhering to COVID restrictions in place, Fox Business reported, resulting in Dr. Barbra Ferrer, director of the Department of Public Health, saying that she has to be “realistic” about enforcement.
“There are 31,000 restaurants in LA County, and our team, as hard as they’re working, they get to about 300 a week,” Dr. Ferrer said.
“It’s killing me to think that at this point, a few weeks before the holidays, we are considering an order to force restaurants to maybe shut down permanently,” Hahn said. “We know they will lay off employees if they are restricted to takeout and curbside only. I really don’t think that’s something I want to do… We are careening down another economically tragic road.”
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