Public Health Updates

Notes from the LA County of Public Health briefings specific to institutions of higher education

01.25.21: Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted the statewide Safer at Home order on Jan. 25. This resulted in some restrictions being loosened in Los Angeles County, such as the return of outdoor dining starting Jan. 29. However, LMU’s operations were not impacted by this change and our campuses remain closed. Locally, county health officials see cases and hospitalizations “leveling off,” though numbers remain high. Distribution of vaccine doses to counties has been slow, and there are not enough doses to go around for all eligible groups. For instance, Los Angeles County (home to 10 million residents) received just 137,000 doses last week. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer expressed optimism about improved production and distribution of vaccines in the coming months.

01-22-21 County health officials see cases and hospitalizations “leveling off,” but as cases remain high, there is no change to the Safer at Home order. No change is expected before March. Additionally, distribution of vaccine doses to counties has been slow, and there are not enough doses to go around for all eligible groups. For instance, Los Angeles County (home to 10 million residents) will receive 137,000 doses next week. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer expressed optimism that the new presidential administration would bring transparency and improved production to vaccine distribution plans.

12-30-20: County health officials announced a new Mandatory Travel Directive, requiring all individuals traveling into Los Angeles County for nonessential purposes, whether by air, car, train, or any other means, directly or indirectly from a point of origin outside the Southern California Region to quarantine for at least 10 days after arrival. Read more about the directive here.

11-24-20: County health officials urge any students traveling for Thanksgiving not to return for the rest of the semester, in order to limit the chances of virus transmission. Students who do travel and come back should quarantine for 14 days. The new Safer at Home order does not include any changes to existing protocols for higher education in Los Angeles County. If cases surge post-Thanksgiving, even stricter measures will be considered.

11-12-20: Los Angeles County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer warns that unless Los Angeles County's COVID numbers decrease substantially, colleges and universities will not be able to offer in-person instruction next semester.

Should infection rates drop, the county will consider accommodations for limited in-person instruction and other activities on campus, at reduced capacities. 

10-15-20: New state guidance allowing up to three households to gather does not include fraternities, sororities, or residence halls. County officials asked higher education leaders to remind our students and ensure this is not misinterpreted. 

Ferrer noted that new state guidance allowing athletics activities on campuses refers only to intercollegiate sports. This does not include any intramural teams, informal softball leagues, clubs, pickup basketball games, or other informal sports activities. 

9-25-20: There is a slight bump in COVID cases post-Labor Day, but not as high as after July 4 or Memorial Day. Los Angeles County cases reached the threshold to move into Tier 2 and begin more reopenings, but this is not expected to last.

County officials asked institutions of higher education to report any COVID cases to them, in addition to the current practice of reporting clusters of three or more cases. 

9-9-20: County officials plan to update existing guidance to allow filming on campus, as long as protocols are followed. Appendix J of the Health Officer Order, which addresses music, film and TV productions, must be followed.  

Institutions of higher education will be allowed to create outdoor study spaces where students already on campus for approved activities can congregate and study. This will not allow more students to come onto campus. 

County Health supports colleges and universities hosting Voting Centers on their campuses.  

9-3-20: The county will discuss how guidance can be adjusted to allow filming on campus in a limited capacity.  

8-5-20: Barbara Ferrer: "It simply wont' be possible to return to daily life as we knew it at colleges and universities." 

The county is dealing with an outbreak of COVID cases at USC, where 45 students were infected at three fraternities.

7-29-20: Los Angeles County released draft reopening guidelines for higher education here. (It has since been updated.)