LA suspends cremation limiting order as county braces for surge in Covid-19 deaths after new strain is reported

An executive order temporarily cancels the limit that was put in place because of worsening air quality

                            LA suspends cremation limiting order as county braces for surge in Covid-19 deaths after new strain is reported
A Covid-19 testing associate assists people at a testing center in LA (Getty Images)

A new variant of the Covid-19 virus has been reported in Los Angeles County as California crosses three million Covid-19 infections. The news comes amid an executive order from the state governor of California to temporarily suspend the permit limiting the number of monthly cremations in Los Angeles County for air quality reasons.

According to The New York Times, while the Los Angeles County took nearly 10 months to hit 400,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 infections, it took just a little over a month to add another 400,000 from November 30, 2020, to January 2, 2021. The county also became the country's first to surpass one million coronavirus infections on Saturday, January 16. The following day, California became the first state to have recorded more than three million confirmed cases.

However, the publication writes that the scale of infections could be much higher than reported as the Los Angeles Department of Health believes that one in three Los Angeles residents has been infected with the virus since the onset of the pandemic. The new variant of the virus, which was first detected in the United Kingdom and is reported to be more contagious than the original version of the Covid-19 virus, was reported in the state on Saturday, January 16. A different variant known as L452R, which was first reported in Denmark in March 2020, has also grown more common across California since it was first reported in the state in May 2020. 

People riding and walking along the beach path amid the Coronavirus pandemic in Huntington Beach, California (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, the governor of the state of California has issued an executive order temporarily suspending the permit that limits the number of cremations for air quality purposes. The order cites that "the current rate of deaths in Los Angeles County is more than double that of pre-pandemic years, and anticipates that another surge is approaching as a result of the New Year's holiday since deaths tend to occur 4-6 weeks after gatherings."

The order continues that the capacity of hospitals, funeral homes, crematoria, and the Coroner's office are exceeding. It also states that the growing backlog of cremation cases within the county constitutes a threat to public health. Those facilities that will be allowed to carry out more cremations than usual should mail the intent to cross the permit limits, should be within 15 percent of reaching or exceeding one or more applicable limits, should operate cremations with a secondary chamber operating at not less than 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and should maintain records of all operations exceeding permit limits.

The news brought some grim reactions on social media. One user tweeted, "Oh fuck the number of deaths. Oh fuck air quality so bad that rationing cremations is a thing." Another opined, "If the air seems funky the next couple days, it’s because LA is doing more cremations. Who do we thank? Trump, Garcetti, an influencer?" A user wrote, "The dead are waiting for the Santa Ana Winds and now we are, too."




However, there is a glimmer of hope as the Los Angeles Times reports that the number of people hospitalized with Covid-19 fell from 7,910 on Monday, January 11, to 7,498 on Sunday, January 17. Additionally, the percentage of positive Covid-19 tests also fell from 16.5 percent to 14 percent.

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