We've woken up to a familiar atmosphere today, one we hopefully won't have to see again.
On Monday, Nov. 30, L.A. County fell under another new "stay-at-home" order that heavily restricted many possible activities following the rise of a third wave of COVID-19 cases and the upcoming holiday season. Surprisingly, very little will actually be shut down completely, aside from playgrounds that are not on school grounds, cardrooms and schools that experience an outbreak according to the L.A. County Department of Public Health guidelines. Places like aquariums, fitness centers and mini-golf operations that are all outside have the highest occupancy leniency at 50 percent, in case you still wanted to play mini-golf in the middle of a once-in-a-century pandemic.
This comes after the first order back in March that restricted gatherings and the functioning of nonessential business, back when the pandemic was in its relative infancy. Nowadays, it feels like another cycle in the fight against this disease that has stolen so much from us, including over 19,000 Californians at the time of publication.
Naturally, this resurgence in lockdowns has brought out the worst in people who still don't understand the reality of COVID-19. Protestors are already showing up in L.A. demanding to open up the city, mostly without masks. One popular meme sent out by Donald Trump Jr. smugly asks "If the first lockdown worked, why a second one?" which is a bit like asking "If your seatbelt saved your life in a car crash, why wear it again for a second crash?"
Lockdowns are blunt tools at curbing COVID-19, and while multiple studies show them to work at suppressing the virus, particularly on the national level, they're only one tool in our toolbox. A recent article in The Lancet argued in favor of lockdowns as a means of buying time for adequate infrastructure to be built in order to avoid future outbreaks, mentioning that the ill effects of lockdowns are worse in places with poorer systems of control.
While I'm not personally in the lockdown of L.A. County, I have been leading a lockdown-style life. I don't go out for anything I don't specifically have to, with leisure activities with family being in open-air environments like parks. I haven't been in a restaurant or other similar location since March, and I don't plan on returning until it's over.
Truly, I only ever go outside my home to help out with picking groceries or to take a bike ride in my neighborhood. The latter activity is almost always devoid of pedestrians, so transmission isn't a huge fear the way it might be in an enclosed space like a church, restaurant or classroom.
With regards toward religious services, I'm fortunate enough to attend my church's services online through video streams. L.A. County's order does allow for "faith-based services and protests" to continue as acceptable gatherings under first amendment protections.
Even speaking as an out-of-state student, if there's any opportunity to limit the spread of COVID-19, it should be taken over the alternative of physically attending an enclosed church, synagogue or mosque. Even if worshippers do the smart thing and wear masks, socially distanced, the negligible risk of getting COVID-19 from worshipping at home is better than the larger risk of getting COVID-19 from regularly attending a structure indoors with dozens of possible asymptomatic carriers.
Again, this isn't to say that the order should go after the freedom of expression — I'm glad that it doesn't. It looks like the national landscape is in agreement, at least after the recent decision in Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo. What I am saying is that the L.A. County order can only do so much to legally halt super-spreader events: we have to pick up the slack.
Whatever you were doing just a few months ago, reconsider if you'd still be doing that now. If you plan on celebrating the winter holidays with family members vulnerable to the virus like the elderly, consider doing it over Zoom or Skype. Above all else, stay at home — you are probably socially distancing less than you think you are.
Lockdowns are never easy; they're not supposed to be easy. They're not even supposed to be Plan A because of their impact. However, the current reality of cases doesn't allow for a softer plan to be put in place. We are in an era unthinkably different from the novel horrors of mid-March, when words like "social distancing" and "lockdown" were practically foreign.
Nearly a month out from the first cases of COVID-19 last December, we have to honor the lockdown or face possibly another year of heartbreak. Do your part.
This is the opinion of Cristobal Spielmann, a junior environmental science major from Brentwood, Tennessee. Email comments to email@example.com. Follow and tweet comments to @LALoyolan on Twitter, and like The Loyolan on Facebook.