LOS ANGELES (NewsNation Now) — A number of police agencies have been vocal about non-enforcement of regulations when it comes to businesses and general mask-wearing, but large, underground parties are quite another matter.
They are superspreader events, according to the LA County Sheriff’s office, and one such party led to more than 150 arrests.
“Even without the health order, these actions were criminal in nature,” said Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
His department broke up that criminal activity late Saturday night.
It ended with 158 arrests and also the rescue of a 17-year-old girl, a suspected victim of sex trafficking.
In addition, deputies recovered six firearms.
The underground party had been tracked through social media leading law enforcement to a rental home in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles.
“That event would have had 500 people had we not broken it up,” he said. “And imagine 500 people all in close proximity indoor and then they fan out once the party is over. That’s how these become superspreader events.”
Large gatherings of young people have been a persistent problem in righting the spread of COVID-19.
In August, two TikTok stars were charged after allegedly hosting a number of parties, one at a rented mansion in Hollywood Hills.
The Sheriff suspects there are about half a dozen underground parties every weekend and he believes a factor is the ban on outdoor dining.
Like other departments, LA County is refraining from cracking down on struggling businesses.
“I don’t think we should be in that position because all we’re doing is forcing things indoors, underground and that is going to create, going to drive the spread greater than the actual permanent activity previously is outdoor dining,” he said.
On that front, the California Restaurant Association won a small battle in court Tuesday morning.
A judge ruled that county health officials acted arbitrarily in enacting the ban.
However, he is allowing the county time to provide concrete proof that health benefits outweigh the economic impact on businesses.