Revelers gather in downtown L.A. to celebrate the Laker's NBA championship win.
Revelers gather in downtown L.A. to celebrate the Laker's NBA championship win. Credit: ABC7.

Lakers, Dodgers Celebrations ‘Likely’ Contributed to COVID-19 Spread: Public Health Department

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It may be a good year for beloved L.A. sports franchises, but the coronavirus is still very much among us, complicating things. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health says fans congregating to celebrate recent Lakers and Dodgers wins are likely a factor in a recent uptick in infections.

On Oct. 11, the Lakers won their 17th NBA championship, prompting fans to gather outside the Staples Center to celebrate. At least one fan practiced social distancing by joining the festivities while inside a bubble, but many fans were seen clumped in groups, some without masks. Meanwhile, the Dodgers are just one win away from the World Series title, which would be their first since 1988.

At the same time, county health officials have noticed a surge in COVID-19 infections. According to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer, the spike wasn’t detected immediately due to a backlog of cases.

“Now that we’ve processed the backlog of cases from the state, and analyzed the numbers by episode date, it is clear that our cases increased,” she told The Associated Press. “This increase is not as steep as what we saw in July, but this is a cause of concern.”

In a statement to USA Today, Public Health officials said that while it’s “impossible to determine the exact exposures that contributed to this increase,” it’s “highly likely” that groups gathering to watch the games and celebrate together are a factor. Any other non-sports related gatherings that happened two to three weeks ago during which people were unmasked and in close contact with one another could also be a factor.

The agency urges fans to celebrate their teams safely while practicing social distancing and wearing masks in public. Otherwise, “cases will continue to rise which, unfortunately, not only leads to increased illness and deaths but also slows down our recovery journey.”

Los Angeles County remains in the most restrictive of the state’s four reopening tiers. The county can’t move forward until it maintains a case rate of 7 cases or fewer per 100,000 residents for two consecutive weeks.

The Dodgers play Game 6 tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays. If they win this game, they win the World Series. Maybe get your plastic bubble ready if you plan to leave the house.

Los Angeleno