INGLEWOOD — Gov. Gavin Newsom has loosened COVID-19 restrictions and moved the state back into a tiered system, allowing many industries to reopen that were forced to shut down for the past six weeks.
Citing the low number of hospital beds available throughout the state, Newsom ordered the shutdown in the week leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday, which outraged businesses.
County officials cited the high number of COVID cases which inundated area hospitals.
“The persistent high number of cases requires additional safety measures that limit mixing in settings where people are not wearing masks,” Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County public health director, said in a statement.
Businesses such as local retail shops have since rushed to implement COVID-19 guidelines to ensure the safety of their patrons and families.
Requiring face masks and social distancing, for example, were just some of the tools used to ensure they were doing their part to control the spread and keep in-store shopping safe for customers and employees. Despite those tactics, officials still shut down many businesses across various sectors.
The halt of outdoor dining hit a Black-owned restaurant in Inglewood particularly hard.
The Serving Spoon has been in the community for 37 years and was in danger of permanently closing until the community rallied to assist it through a GoFundMe campaign started by owners Angela and J.C. Jones.
“In this situation now, it’s not pride of not asking, but it has been more so of knowing that there’s so many other people that are hurting,” J.C. Jones said. “How do you reach out to ask for help from other people who are hurting?”
After raising more than $150,000, which also included donations from Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth, the Jones’ were forced to close due to employees contracting the virus. One of the workers died from the illness.
The restaurant has since reopened bringing back the entire staff.
The Wood Urban Kitchen BBQ is a new restaurant in the city of Inglewood whose owners are excited that outdoor dining has resumed.
“We are excited that outdoor dining has resumed as it is vital to keep restaurants open and more importantly to keep staff employed,” said the Wood Urban Kitchen in a statement on social media.
Unemployment has swept Los Angeles as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and the shutdowns that followed, leaving 20.3% of workers in the county out of a job.
“The crisis that we’re seeing today — the high numbers we’re seeing in the Black community, that have really exploded due to COVID — is not a surprise,” said Lola Smallwood Cuevas, a researcher with the UCLA Labor Center. “It has been generations in the making.”
Those numbers are now increasing in Latino households who often find themselves without the space to safely quarantine at home.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti cites household gatherings as a major contributor to the spread of COVID-19.
“This is something now that really is spreading in the home,” Garcetti said, adding: “It’s a message for all of America: We might not all have the same density as L.A., but what’s happening in L.A. can and will be coming in many communities in America.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Los Angeles County has one of the highest percentages of overcrowded homes at 11%.
Overcrowded housing is defined as more than one person per room, excluding bathrooms.
As of last July 23, Westlake, a neighborhood just west of downtown, had the highest COVID-19 cases (2,865) and the highest COVID-19 related deaths (143) of any neighborhood in the city. Westlake also has some of the most cramped living conditions as 38% of households are considered to be living in overcrowded housing.
Practically every household in Westlake consists of renters and 59% of households are considered rent-burdened, meaning they pay more than a third of their monthly income on rent.
On Jan. 28 Newsom extended eviction protections through the end of June but stopped short of canceling back-owed rent.
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has created a super spreader task force that has produced hundreds of arrests at parties that violated health guidelines.
“[Sheriff] Alex Villanueva has made it clear he will seek out and take law enforcement action against all underground party events occurring anywhere within Los Angeles County, who fall under the health orders of the county’s Department of Public Health,” the department said in a statement released on its official social media page.
As Newsom has begun the process of slowly reopening the state, and once again allowing outdoor dining, it comes with a directive to keep televisions off as the Super Bowl is scheduled Feb. 7.
2 Urban Girls is a freelance reporter for Wave Newspapers who covers the Compton and Inglewood area. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.