State lifts COVID-19 lockdown

Tessa Augsberger

State officials lifted California’s stay-at-home order Jan. 25. The state implemented the order amid a surge in infections Dec. 3, but a recent decline in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations allowed officials to end the stay-at-home restrictions.

Businesses such as gyms and restaurants may reopen outdoor services, while retailers will reopen with limited capacity, according to CNBC. The end of the stay-at-home order will most directly affect Southern California, the San Joaquin Valley and the Bay Area, regions that remained under stay-at-home restrictions before the announcement. In Los Angeles County, over 5,000 people died of COVID-19 in less than one month, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The end of the state’s stay-at-home order influenced local policy in LA County by guiding public opinion.

Head of Communications and Strategic Initiatives and Head of the School Reopening Task Force Ari Engelberg ’89 said the announcement didn’t directly impact the school because the stay-at-home order did not legally affect the ability to return to campus. Rather, the state’s lifting of the stay-at-home order changed public opinion in a way that led LA County to decrease restrictions.

“We’re going to start to see those [county-level restrictions] begin to loosen up over the next several weeks,” Engelberg said. “There was not a direct legal impact on [the school] from the state, but there were a whole bunch of indirect impacts.”

Given the high number of COVID-19 cases this winter, students said they think it is still too early for state officials to lift the order.

Izzy Welsh ’22 said she thinks the stay-at-home order was lifted too soon and that ending it could negatively impact the community in the coming weeks.

“Although we’re all exhausted from the quarantine, especially as students because it’ll have been almost a year of online school in March, I just don’t think now is the time to concede and potentially undo all of the progress that we’ve made up to this point, especially when so many lives are at risk,” Welsh said.

Confirmed cases of the virus in LA County have more than doubled since the order went into place, according to the Los Angeles Times. Hospitals in Southern California still lack availability, with intensive care units (ICU) capacity currently at zero percent, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Rohan Madhogarhia ’22 said he believes it is not safe to end the stay-at-home order, given the current data on COVID-19 in LA County.

“There’s basically been no progress made, so there’s really no reason for the ban to be lifted,” Madhogarhia said. “Even if there was any progress made, it’s going to immediately be reversed once they lift the ban.”