According to new data from Los Angeles County's Department of Public Health, COVID-19 cases traced back to the county's restaurants and bars accounted for just 3.1%, or 70 of the total 2,257 confirmed cases found from 204 "outbreak" locations.
Restaurant and bar locations where cases were traced back included mostly chains. The locations include McDonald's, Panda Express, Subway, The Habit Burger Grill, Burger King Monrovia, Chabalitas Restaurant, Domino's Pizza North Hollywood, Jack in the Box, Langer's Deli, Los Amigos Restaurant and Bruin Cafe and the Study at Headrick at UCLA.
Meanwhile, 7.27% of COVID cases were traced back to government agencies, including L,A. County entities like the Registrar, Fire Department, and Department of Parks and Recreation, among others.
Out of the total confirmed cases, 2,249 of them were traced to staff members at workplaces, food and retail stores while just eight cases came from non-staff members.
The latest data comes following a new order unveiled by the Department of Public Health prohibiting outdoor dining. The modified order, which will take effect Wednesday, Nov. 25, at 10 p.m., will last for the next three weeks at a minimum.
To reduce the possibility for crowding and the potential for exposure in settings where people are not wearing their face coverings, restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars will only be able to offer takeout, drive-thru and delivery services. Wineries and breweries may continue their retail operations adhering to current protocols.
L.A. County saw 6,124 new cases of coronavirus on Monday. Dr. Barbara Ferrer, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said at a press conference that the increase is the highest weekly spike in cases she has seen.
She also said between Nov. 7 to Nov. 20, there’s been a 61% increase in hospitalization, a pace of increase that “could potentially lead to overwhelming the healthcare system.”
Ferrer acknowledged the "devastating sacrifices" some people have had to make and emphasized that one of her primary concerns is slowing the coronavirus transmission rate so medical facilities aren't overwhelmed.
"We know this has created a lot of hardship for so many and we are hopeful that with these actions, we do get back to slowing the spread and we are able, once again, to reopen for our restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars for in-person dining," Ferrer said.
She pointed out that while most restaurants have complied with safety mandates, almost 20% of restaurants have had issues, mainly regarding social distancing.
But when asked at the press conference how many people became infected by dining outside at a restaurant, Ferrer said she didn't have the concrete data in front of her and that her communications team would follow up.
“We’ll be working with the Board [of Supervisors] to determine additional safety modifications,” she added.
L.A. County Supervisor Board Chair Kathryn Barger issued a statement Monday opposing the new restrictions.
“These proposed measures by the Department of Public Health will further devastate local businesses and employees who have been asked to shoulder an unfair burden this year,” Barger said. “Businesses throughout the county have invested thousands of dollars to ensure safety for their employees and customers only to be punished for the recent surge they have done everything in their power to prevent.”
Barger noted that increased case counts are not coming from businesses reopening, but from gatherings where people aren’t wearing masks, citing Public Health data that only 10 to 15 percent of positive cases reported dining out with someone who tested positive, while more than 50 percent reported being at a private social gathering with someone who tested positive.
Ferrer said that data is based on a smaller sample size where people are actually able to tell the county they got infected or where officials are doing an "outbreak investigation."
Barger argues that by closing restaurants that are in compliance, the county may adversely incentivize residents to host and attend more private gatherings without safety precautions in place.
"Businesses have made incredible sacrifices to align with safety protocols to remain open in order to pay their bills and feed their families,” Barger added. “Our hospitalization rates are among the lowest we’ve seen. Yet, the rationale for further closures is tied to the number of patients in the hospital. We’ve come a long way to support workers and residents who are struggling to stay afloat and should not regress on the progress we’ve made.”
She encouraged residents to help slow the spread by maintaining physical distancing and wearing face coverings.
L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn said she would have rather discussed the new measure openly during the Board of Supervisors' meeting so the public could "understand the rationale behind it."
California Congressman Doug LaMalfa told FOX Business that the government's problem is that they are "not really applying common sense to where spreads are coming from" despite claims that they are following the science.
He argued that based on the new data from L.A. County, the new restrictions will not even achieve the county's intended goal and that it is unfair to the businesses that will take a significant financial hit or even close down permanently because of it.
"What I would really, really recommend is to actually sit and listen and implement based on what you're learning from what people are saying," LaMalfa added. "It just seems like the power has gone to their heads."
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. predicted that approximately 700,000 jobs in the food industry would be lost during the county's shutdown, with 75% of all projected job losses impacting those earning $50,000 or less.