Los Angeles County public health officials are calling on the film and television industries to voluntarily halt production as the COVID-19 infection rate continues to soar.
FilmLA, the nonprofit group that hands out filming permits for Los Angeles and other cities in the county, says the L.A. County Department of Public Health sent an email to the entertainment industry asking producers to temporarily shut down filming until the situation improves.
“Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases. Identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible,” the letter stated.
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Film and TV production was ordered to halt in California when the outbreak began in March, and it resumed in June.
In its email, health officials said the entertainment industry has since taken several steps to protect workers, including “moving more work outdoors, delaying higher-risk work, and putting some productions completely on pause.”
According to the county’s COVID data page, there have been 746,089 total confirmed cases and 9,782 deaths, as of Tuesday.
Across L.A. county, half of all hospital beds are now filled with COVID-19 patients. Meanwhile, ICU bed capacity is currently listed at zero percent in Southern California. Health officials fear case numbers and hospitalizations will rise in January after Christmas and New Year’s gatherings, despite warnings.
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L.A. County Health Services Director Dr. Christina Ghaly called the situation “dire” during a Monday briefing.
“Hospitals are treating patients in other areas that are not typically used for patient care at all… They’re using places like conference rooms or gift shops to provide patient care,” Ghaly said.
On Tuesday, California officially extended the regional stay-at-home order for Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley region, banning all gatherings of people from different households, in-person dining, and visits to hair salons and barbershops. It also limits capacity in many businesses, including shopping malls.
The order began on Dec. 6 and had been set to expire Dec. 28. The new rules will stay in place for at least three weeks.