On Saturday, videos taken from a new helicopter show people crowding beaches in southern California, in spite of the state's new stay-at-home order. The area is at high risk during the COVID-19 outbreak, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has issued an unprecedented order for residents to stay at home. Seeing the crowded beaches this weekend, many are wondering how enforceable that measure really is.
This was the first weekend since California enacted a widespread stay-at-home order in the hopes of slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. While many areas were deserted, a surprising number of beaches were full, to the dismay of experts hoping to reduce the impact of the virus on society. NBC News Los Angeles published footage taken from its helicopter, showing people crowding beaches and parks in the southern part of the state.
WATCH LIVE: Many people across SoCal appear to be ignoring the "Stay at Home"order as they play basketball on Venice Beach and play apparent drinking games in Manhattan Beach. Similar scenes down in Newport and Huntington beaches. https://t.co/Oz7z2WRZBy pic.twitter.com/U0tGbpQy4R— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) March 22, 2020
"Those young people are still out there on the beaches thinking it's time to party. It's time to grow up, time to wake up," Newsom said in a press conference on Saturday night. "Time to recognize that it's not just about the old folks, it's about your impact on their lives. Don't be selfish."
Newsom's stay-at-home order was the most aggressive in the U.S. at the time, though it was followed by similar measures from New York and Illinois. With about 40 million residents, California is the country's most populous state, and it will need to make some serious changes to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Already, California is one of the hardest-hit states so far. There are reportedly 1,382 confirmed cases of COVID-19 there, with more expected as testing becomes more widely available. The state has had 25 deaths due to the virus so far.
Experts are begging people not to take the stay-at-home order lightly. Los Angeles County Health Director Barbar Ferrer gave a statement to NBC Los Angeles, saying that even those who have been tested are not safe, risking their health and the health of the community every time they go out.
"You can be negative today and positive tomorrow," she said. "Stay home as much as possible. You are safer at home."
Ferrer said that people should only go out for essential needs, such as groceries. Social events and gatherings should be canceled until further notice. This way, the healthcare system will not become overloaded with people needing care all at once — more care than hospitals and doctors are equipped to provide.
Visit the CDC's website for the latest information on the COVID-19 pandemic.