Building damage and arrests weren’t the only casualties in Los Angeles after the Lakers won the 2020 NBA title: health department officials say it is “highly likely” that celebrations and watch parties contributed to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases.
L.A. County’s average daily case increase has gone from “around 940” per day to “almost 1,200” since early October, the health department said on Twitter.
“It is impossible to determine the exact exposures that contributed to this increase,’’ the L.A. Health Department said in a statement to USA Today. “However, it is highly likely that gatherings to watch and/or celebrate the Lakers, along with any other gatherings that occurred 2-3 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 celebrations on the night of Oct. 11, which began as peaceful, saw about a thousand people congregate outside of the Staples Center despite warnings they should not do so.
By the end of things, 76 people were arrested and 30-plus buildings and businesses were damaged, police said.
“As we cheer our Lakers’ 17th championship, please remember it’s still not safe to gather in groups,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti tweeted ahead of the celebrations. “Let’s honor our city’s triumph by protecting others and making sure we don’t spread the virus. Please celebrate safely at home. Do not gather at Staples Center. Thank you!”
Officials warned of the consequences of holding similar events if the Dodgers clinch their first World Series title in over 30 years.
“As fans continue to watch and celebrate the mighty LA sport 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 health department added.