Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown

Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown

LOS ANGELES (California) — Eight months after California Healthline’s Heidi de Marco photographed LA under lockdown, she returned to the same iconic spots. Vehicle and foot traffic is up — as are coronavirus cases.

On a Monday afternoon in March, four days after Gov. Gavin Newsom issued the nation’s first statewide stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the coronavirus, some of Southern California’s most famous landmarks were deserted and few cars traveled the region’s notoriously congested freeways.

Eight months later, businesses are open, traffic is back — and COVID-19 cases in the state are surging. 

“This is simply the fastest increase California has seen since the beginning of this pandemic,” Newsom said in a press conference Monday, when he announced a major rollback of the state’s reopening process, saying the state’s daily case numbers had doubled in the previous 10 days.

That same day, California Healthline’s Heidi de Marco returned to the landmarks she photographed in March. This time, it took her nearly two days — Monday and Tuesday — to document them because of traffic.

The biggest change was the greater number of vehicles on the road. Foot traffic had also stepped up, but most pedestrians and shoppers were wearing masks and not gathering in large numbers.

It turns out that activities such as strolling along the beach and window-shopping are not the primary way the disease is spreading in Los Angeles County.

Public health officials there blame the surge on an increase in social gatherings, such as private dinners and sports-watching parties with people from multiple households, and the virus is spreading mostly among adults ages 18 to 29

In a bid to slow the virus, county public health director Barbara Ferrer announced additional restrictions on businesses, effective Friday.

Among them, outdoor dining and drinking at restaurants and breweries will be limited to 50% of capacity, and outdoor gatherings can include only 15 people from no more than three households, including the host’s household.

Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
More than 4 million visitors from around the world visit the TCL Chinese Theatre every year. But there was no foot traffic in front of the Hollywood landmark Monday afternoon.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
The TCL Chinese Theatre shops are open for business in Hollywood, but the theater itself is closed.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Pedro Castro, 40, sells tourist bus tour tickets on Hollywood Boulevard. Castro usually books about 20 tours a day, he said, but after the shutdown, he sold only three on Sunday and Monday combined. Many tourists, Castro said, are “stuck here and have nowhere to go.”
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
The Hollywoodland Experience shop is empty Monday afternoon. The tour guide stationed outside the store, who didn’t want to be photographed or named, said business is steady but not nearly as heavy as before the pandemic.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Traffic is light on the Hollywood Freeway around 4 p.m., usually bumper-to-bumper rush hour in Los Angeles.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
The Hollywood Freeway started to get busy at about 3:30 p.m. Monday and cars were moving fast. It was bumper-to-bumper by 5:30 p.m., hitting peak gridlock later than in pre-pandemic days — but still much busier than in March.

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Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Olvera Street, a historic district downtown, is home to a Mexican marketplace that is a popular attraction. But all shops and most restaurants are now closed.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Some shops on Olvera Street remain closed, but most restaurants are open and offer outside seating for customers.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Ricardo Gaytan, a cook at Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street, said the takeout window is open. But with only a few customers a day, the restaurant may close completely, he said.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Ricardo Gaytan, a cook at Cielito Lindo on Olvera Street, now wears a mask while working and stands behind a plexiglass barrier when taking orders. The restaurant has remained open during the pandemic, he said, and business is steady. He said he has had to deal with only a few customers who didn’t want to wear a mask.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
A guard stands at the entrance of the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style in Beverly Hills, which is now closed to the public.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
People wander through the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style in Beverly Hills, which is again open to the public. Most people wore masks as they visited the stores that were open.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
The city of Santa Monica has closed its famous pier to cars but allows people to walk onto the pier as long as they wear a face covering.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
The city of Santa Monica has closed its famous pier to cars but allows people to walk onto the pier as long as they wear a face covering.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Despite the haze, a handful of people work out at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica on Tuesday afternoon. The beachgoers said they didn’t feel the need to wear a mask since they were outside, and because wearing a mask makes it harder to breathe while working out.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Despite the haze, a handful of people work out at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica on Tuesday afternoon. The beachgoers said they didn’t feel the need to wear a mask since they were outside, and because wearing a mask makes it harder to breathe while working out.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
Customers line up at Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, near Los Angeles International Airport, but they leave some distance between themselves.
Photojournalist captures twin face of LA in lockdown
There weren’t many customers at Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood on Tuesday, but the shop is hiring.

KHN correspondent Anna Almendrala contributed to this report.

This story was produced by KHN, which publishes California Healthline, an editorially independent service of the California Health Care Foundation.

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