LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County officials are bracing for another coronavirus surge in early January as people who become infected during the holidays return to work and other aspects of normal life. But they recognize they are fighting growing fatigue over stay-at-home restrictions and a feeling from some that the fight is already lost.

It’s all but assured that the stay-at-home order that was imposed a month ago will remain in Southern California because hospitals are at the breaking point amid a crush of COVID-19 patients.

Officials say more measures are needed. They have urged every person coming into L.A. County from outside the region to quarantine for 10 days to determine whether they have any symptoms of the coronavirus.

“Mingling with people outside of your immediate household is one of the leading causes for the current surge. All it takes is one unfortunate encounter with an individual with COVID-19 for you to become infected, and sadly, for you to go on and infect many others,” said Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.

County leaders also urged people to avoid the impulse to simply give up and stop following the rules.

“I understand the futility that so many people are feeling right now – the idea that some people just want to throw their hands up. But we can’t think like that,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “To be more blunt, each one of us has the power to cause or prevent death and illness among our family members, our coworkers and even strangers.”

The current crisis has been fueled by several factors, including Thanksgiving travel and gatherings. Officials know there have also been Christmas travel and gatherings, but it will take several weeks for infections associated with late December events to become apparent.

Ferrer said that “all indicators tell us that our situation may only get worse as we begin 2021. The rate of community transmission remains extraordinarily high. … As cases continue to remain at these alarmingly high levels, hundreds more people are likely to die.”

For many people, the virus causes no illness or symptoms. “If you go back to work, you go shopping or you go to any gatherings, at any point over the next 10 days, you could easily pass on this virus to others,” Ferrer said. 

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