Angelus Temple exterior 11-18-20

Angelus Temple in Echo Park is one of the many LA churches that had defied public health orders by holding indoor services.

Public Health officials today announced 13,756 new COVID-19 cases and 60 more deaths, as Los Angeles County crossed a landmark 600,000 cases, but also had to modify the department's safety policy regarding places of worship to account for recent Supreme Court rulings.

To date, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has reported 610,372 positive COVID-19 cases across and a total of 8,817 coronavirus-related deaths.

On Dec. 11, the county reached 500,000 cases, and since then, more than 100,000 new cases have been reported -- the fastest acceleration of new cases during the pandemic.

The Los Angeles County Health Officer Order was modified today to align with recent Supreme Court rulings for places of worship. The court ruled that such places are permitted to offer faith-based services both indoors and outdoors with mandatory physical distancing and face coverings over both the nose and mouth that must be worn at all times while on site. Attendance is not permitted to exceed the number of people who can be accommodated while maintaining a physical distance of six feet between separate households.

Public Health strongly recommended that places of worship continue to hold services outdoors, with physical distancing and face coverings to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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"Because Los Angeles County is experiencing an unprecedented surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, every effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to congregants and to the entire community is critical," said a statement by public health.

A record 5,424 people were hospitalized with the disease on today -- up more than 300 from Friday -- and 21% of these people are in the ICU. Hospital capacity across the county is very limited, and health care workers are hard-pressed to keep up with the need for care.

The county also announced that a second COVID vaccine by Moderna is scheduled to begin distribution in LA County next week.

Once the Moderna doses arrive, they will be used to vaccinate staff and residents at skilled nursing facilities, frontline emergency medical workers, paramedics, and vaccinators.

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