Week seven: COVID restrictions reimplemented, contact tracing launched, Heaps settlement proposed
(Left to right: Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor, Katherine Ngo/Daily Bruin, Kanishka Mehra/Photo editor)
Nov. 20, 2020 8:55 p.m.
This Week in the News serves as The Quad’s space for reflection on current events at and around UCLA. Every week, Daily Bruin staffers will analyze some of the most significant stories to keep readers up to speed.
With midterms in the rearview mirror and Thanksgiving break right around the corner, Bruins had a busy week seven with news of rising cases of COVID-19 to a sexual misconduct settlement.
The California Department of Public Health ordered a ban on nonessential gatherings in 41 counties starting Saturday. The stay at home order will be in effect from 10 p.m. until 5 a.m. every day until Dec. 21.
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office issued a press release Thursday addressing the order and its purpose of reducing the spread of COVID-19 by restricting contact between members of different households.
More than 94% of Californians will be affected by the order.
Los Angeles County is placing restrictions on nonessential businesses starting Friday because of rising COVID-19 cases, alongside the statewide ban on nonessential gatherings.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health stated in a Tuesday press release that restaurants, bars and other nonessential businesses will have to close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Outdoor restaurants, breweries and wineries will have to operate at a maximum of 50% outdoor capacity, according to the press release. Businesses that offer services that require customers to remove their masks, such as facials and shaves, will not be allowed to offer such services. Outdoor gatherings will be limited to three households.
If the spread of COVID-19 increases, a potential three-week “safer at home order” and curfew will be enforced by the county.
UCLA, alongside six University of California campuses, will work with the CDPH to pilot a voluntary contact tracing app called California COVID Notify.
The program will be made available to UCLA students, faculty and staff to aid in contact tracing efforts. Though the app utilizes Bluetooth technology, it does not require users to enter personal information nor does it track their location, according to the California COVID Notify website.
Professor of medicine and public health and chairman of the Infection Control Working Group at UCLA Peter Katona said the exposure notification app will work effectively only if 50% or 60% of the campus community voluntarily adheres to its use.
Several students voiced their concerns about California COVID Notify’s limited reach and low accountability, while others approved of the program’s attempt to preserve anonymity in monitoring the spread of COVID-19.
A class action sexual misconduct settlement filed in federal court Monday may require UCLA to pay $73 million to patients of former OB-GYN James Heaps and reform its sexual misconduct response procedures.
Heaps has been accused by more than 100 women of sexual misconduct committed during his time as an OB-GYN at UCLA Health from February 2014 to June 2018. According to court filings, more than 6,600 former patients may be eligible to receive funds between $2,500 and $250,000 each from the class action settlement.
According to a statement from UCLA Health, the university has investigated the medical center’s sexual misconduct response procedures and is working to implement the recommendations listed in the settlement, which is still pending court approval.
Some of the requirements under the agreement include screening prospective physicians for previous sexual misconduct allegations and implementing a boundaries training course for all UCLA physicians starting July 2021.
Under the settlement, UCLA Health and the Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center would work alongside the Title IX office to oversee reforms and respond to sexual misconduct allegations, along with employing two Title IX investigators.