LOS ANGELES • With Los Angeles set to celebrate another major sports title in a matter of days, the city might be paying the price for one earlier in the month.
As the Los Angeles Lakers progressed through four rounds of play-offs, culminating in the National Basketball Association title on Oct 11, the Los Angeles County Department of Health says it is highly likely that fans gathering to watch the games – and then taking to the streets to celebrate – played a role in the county’s surge of Covid-19 cases.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are the favourites to beat the Tampa Bay Rays and clinch Major League Baseball’s World Series this week, leaving the local health authorities concerned about gatherings.
Going back to early this month, Los Angeles County has seen its average number of new daily confirmed cases of Covid-19 rise from 900 to 1,200.
“It is impossible to determine the exact exposures that contributed to this increase,” the agency told USA Today on Monday.
“However, it is highly likely that gatherings to watch and/or celebrate the Lakers, along with any other gatherings that occurred two to three weeks ago where people weren’t wearing face coverings and were in close contact with each other, contributed to the rise in LA County cases.”
The Lakers’ traditional victory parade and organised public celebrations were not held because of the pandemic, although more than 1,000 people swarmed the area around Staples Centre to celebrate the team’s Game 6 clincher.
“As fans continue to watch and celebrate the mighty LA sports teams, we are mindful that if individuals are not adhering to the health officer order requirements of distancing, infection control and masking, cases will continue to rise which, unfortunately, not only leads to increased illness and deaths but also slows down our recovery journey,” the agency added.