More than a dozen COVID-19 outbreaks at Santa Clarita Valley-based workplaces are part of 540 outbreak investigations across Los Angeles County, the highest tally since the onset of the pandemic, according to county Public Health officials.
The valley has also seen nearly 40 citations for noncompliance, including one connected to Higher Vision Church in Valencia for the controversial “Let Us Worship” open-air concert where several hundred people gathered on New Year’s Eve.
Surge outbreaks at workplaces
As of Wednesday, the Department of Public Health was investigating a surge in COVID-19 outbreaks among staff and non-staff at non-residential settings, such as workplaces, food and retail stores.
“As expected, a surge in cases of COVID-19 has contributed to a corresponding surge in outbreaks at workplaces all across the county, including grocery stores, warehouses, manufacturing facilities, and many other workplaces, where people come together on a daily basis,” Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday during a media briefing.
The largest share of increase has been among general worksites, such as manufacturing facilities and logistic companies, which increased from nine outbreaks on Nov. 1 to 44 per week on Dec. 6. Weekly outbreaks in schools and day care centers also increased in December, according to Ferrer.
In the Santa Clarita Valley, 18 outbreak investigations remain active in various settings, including fast-food restaurants, nail salons, car dealerships and retail.
Of the local list, Bocchi Laboratory was listed as having the most cases among staff with a tally of 47. Those that followed were Woodward HRT Inc. with 39 cases, Costco Warehouse with 35, and Novacap LLC and Star Nail/Cuccio each with 33.
Public Health urges compliance
Since the end of August, the county Public Health Department has issued 613 citations to multiple businesses and organizations across different sectors for noncompliance with the county health officer order.
“During Public Health’s most recent business compliance checks, inspectors noted that the majority of businesses visited were in compliance with most of the Public Health protocols,” department officials said in a Tuesday statement. “However, some businesses failed to adhere to capacity limits, ensure employees and patrons were appropriately distanced and wearing required face coverings, and did not post their completed protocol checklists.”
From Jan. 3 through Jan. 11, a total of 83 citations were issued to businesses including restaurants, gyms, personal care salons, hair salons/barber shops, places of worship and shopping malls, according to Public Health data.
A total of 39 citations were issued from August to Jan. 10 to places in Agua Dulce, Canyon Country, Castaic, Santa Clarita and Valencia. Those cited included barbershops, hair and nail salons, family entertainment centers, warehouses, fitness centers and places of worship.
A citation listed under the address of Higher Vision Church located on The Old Road was listed on Public Health’s website for Christian musician Sean Feucht’s “Let Us Worship” event on Dec. 31, where most attendees were seen without face masks and not physically distancing.
Prior to the event, church officials said the event was not an official function of theirs. Church and event organizers, as well as Public Health officials, did not return requests to confirm whether the church or Feucht was cited. An L.A. church’s address was also listed for having held another “Let Us Worship” event earlier on Dec. 31.
For businesses that remain out of compliance, citations may be issued for up to $1,000 per occurrence, per Public Health.
Reports of outbreaks and citations come as the department stated that with 14,000 or more people testing positive daily, it can be predicted with a fair amount of accuracy that 10-12% of those who test positive will become sick enough to require hospitalization.
Businesses can take advantage of the county’s COVID-19 Safety Compliance Certification Program, which offers training about infection control protocols.