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California's slide from coronavirus success to danger zone began Memorial Day

Rong-Gong Lin II, Iris Lee, Sean Greene and Soumya Karlamangla, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

In a stark warning, Ferrer said Sunday that a failure to follow pandemic safety orders puts the public at risk. "Otherwise, we are quickly moving toward overwhelming our health care system and seeing even more devastating illness and death," she said.

More than 5,900 people infected with the coronavirus have died in California, with more than 3,300 of them in L.A. County.

Officials and experts have pleaded with the public to wear masks. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who headed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an appointee of President Donald Trump until last year, tweeted that the chief measure to save lives, allow schools to reopen in the fall and keep businesses operating safely is "universal masking."

A Gallup poll found that 84% of U.S. adults said they'd worn a face mask outside of their home in the past week. But there are some people who are vociferously opposed to complying with California's mask-wearing order.

A Los Angeles taco chain said Sunday it was forced to temporarily close two locations after a mounting onslaught of harassment from customers angered by the business' "no mask, no service" policy.

The harassment, including racial epithets and drinks being hurled at workers through order windows, has taken an emotional toll on the mostly Latino employees, Hugo's Tacos part-owner Bill Kohne told The Times.

 

L.A. County officials warned about the "appearance of phony mask exemption cards that depict a government seal with threatening information." People who have a medical condition that prevents the use of a mask should wear a face shield instead, county officials said.

Kim-Farley, a former senior health official with L.A. County and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said there are three protagonists -- individuals, businesses and county governments -- who each need to do their part to limit the spread of the disease.

Not only do government officials need to analyze data for worrisome trends, but individuals must wear face coverings and stay 6 feet away from other people, and business owners need to keep their establishments from getting crowded and regularly disinfect high-touch surfaces.

It's possible too many Californians responded to the reopenings of businesses as a license to resume life as they did before the pandemic arrived, Kim-Farley said. Californians never endured the trauma New Yorkers did of seeing their hospital system get overloaded by COVID-19 patients in the spring.

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