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Hollywood urged to halt movie production to help contain Covid-19 outbreak in Los Angeles

Hollywood has been urged to halt movie production to help contain the outbreak of Covid-19 in California as more than 7,000 people – a record number – are hospitalized with the disease in Los Angeles.

In an email sent on December 24, circulated by FilmLA – the county’s non-profit film office – the health department encouraged industry contacts to pause work.

‘Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases,’ the email said.

It advised that filmmakers ‘identify and delay higher risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible.’

In an email sent on December 24, circulated by FilmLA – the county’s non-profit film office – the health department encouraged Hollywood filmmakers to pause productions

FilmLA were also asked to remind filmmakers that they are advised against travelling for production purposes during the crisis.

While travel is allowed within California, it increases the likelihood of people being inside a vehicle together or being in other enclosed indoor settings.

The email stressed the importance of the new precautions with Los Angeles hospitals nearing capacity, but added that there is a ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ in the form of two approved vaccines being administered.

Earlier in December, shooting on a remake of the 1999 romantic comedy ‘She’s All That’ shut down LA’s Union Station – one of the city’s major coronavirus testing sites – according to The Hill.

FilmLA claimed that when it issued the permit for the filming to be done at the station, it had not realised it was being used as a testing site. 

Many blockbuster movies have been delayed in 2020 due to the pandemic, including the up-coming James Bond movie ‘No Time to Die’, Denis Villeneuve’s ‘Dune’ and Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Antlers’. 

Some movies, such as ‘Wonder Woman 1984’, have been released during the pandemic, but have found success on streaming platforms while cinemas in many countries around the world remain closed.

A sign reminding about social distancing is pictured as people wearing face masks drive by on the set of the film '7th & Union' during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in California

A sign reminding about social distancing is pictured as people wearing face masks drive by on the set of the film ‘7th & Union’ during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in California

The email comes after the The Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) said that ‘most’ productions would be on-hold until the third week of January, if not later. 

‘Most entertainment productions will remain on hiatus until the second or third week of January if not later,’ a statement from the labor group said on Tuesday.

‘This means that the number of our member performers working on sets right now is reduced. Our safety protocols ensure appropriate precautions for the holiday hiatus period including additional time for testing prior to the resumption of production.’

The statement followed the news that the regional stay at home order in California was extended as coronavirus cases continue to spike.

Some movies, such as 'Wonder Woman 1984' (pictured) have been released during the pandemic, but have found success on streaming platforms while cinemas in many countries around the world remain closed

Some movies, such as ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ (pictured) have been released during the pandemic, but have found success on streaming platforms while cinemas in many countries around the world remain closed

Regions were previously set to be freed from the December restrictions on December 28, but with the extension, they will now remain in place for the foreseeable future. 

California has become the epicenter of the pandemic over the past few weeks with more than 24,000 virus-related deaths. 

On Tuesday 31,245 new COVID-19 infections were reported, bringing the total tally to 2.18 million.  

Los Angeles has seen nearly 100,000 new cases in the last week alone, according to the data from Johns Hopkins University. Last week, the death tolls hit record highs on consecutive days. 

‘A person now dies every 10 minutes in L.A. County from COVID-19,’ L.A. County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer said of the rate of deaths in the area.  

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed its highest number of hospitalizations reported in a day, at more than 7,000 people, with one in five in ICU.

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed its highest number of hospitalizations reported in a day, at more than 7,000 people, with one in five in ICU

Los Angeles County on Tuesday confirmed its highest number of hospitalizations reported in a day, at more than 7,000 people, with one in five in ICU

The daily figure was nearly a 1,000 per cent increase from two months ago and more than three times the peak of a July surge, according to the county Department of Public Health.

The county also reported 227 new deaths, which included a backlog from delays in holiday reporting. In total, the county has seen a total of 719,833 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 9,482 related deaths. 

Funeral homes in Los Angeles also reported becoming so crowded with COVID-19 victims that they are struggling to find storage space, with one even renting out a 52-foot refrigerated truck to cope with the influx of bodies.

Los Angeles County, which is home to a quarter of California’s 40 million residents and has about 40 percent of its deaths, has struggled with a surge that has led to repeated record-breaking cases, hospitalizations and deaths statewide.

Governor Gavin Newsom said Monday that the state is setting up hospital beds in arenas, schools and tents there, though it’s struggling to staff them.

He said 96 percent of hospitals in the county were unable to accept patients by ambulance at some point over the weekend, compared with 33 percent in pre-surge times. 

And Ghaly on Tuesday said the state is assessing issues such as the availability and delivery of oxygen as well as how to administer it to patients struggling to breathe.

County officials said Monday that Moderna vaccines were delivered to 59 nursing home facilities with plans to deploy 69,000 vaccines to staff and residents in more than 300 skilled nursing homes by the end of the year.

Nursing facilities account for only 5 per cent of the state’s COVID-19 cases, but 35 per cent of its deaths, said Dr Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director.


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