Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Sign up here.
Crowds of people in Los Angeles are defying the city’s coronavirus stay-at-home order to hang out at intersections and watch street drivers performing donuts and drag races, according to a local report.
The so-called street takeovers involve illegal stunt driving and have been a dangerous problem since long before the coronavirus pandemic, Fox 11 reported — but now they also violate social distancing guidelines.
“Now these takeovers this weekend were unusually bad, people getting hit by cars, traffic accidents, in fact, we had a fatal accident in the city related to racing,” Jesse Garcia, of the LAPD’s Central Traffic Division and head of the Street Racing Task Force, told the outlet.
Videos of the gatherings show cars burning rubber, leaving marks on the street, making tight turns and even striking bystanders. And they show many spectators who appear to be standing much more closely together than the recommended 6 feet – although some are, along with wearing masks.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a “Safer at Home” order weeks ago, requiring residents to stay at home except for in a number of situations, including to get food, health or medical necessities — as well as to care for children or adult relatives, friends and people with disabilities, according to the mayor’s office.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in California had climbed to 19,131 as of Thursday evening, with 507 deaths.
Nationwide, there were at least 454,304 cases and 16,267 deaths.
The virus is highly contagious, and authorities at various levels of government are urging residents to avoid close contact with one another, maintain good hand-washing hygiene and stay home as much as possible to help lessen its spread.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve got these groups coming out to take advantage of the pandemic situation that we have,” Sgt. Garcia told Fox 11. “These crowds number into the hundreds of people standing inches apart engaged in takeover activity which is unacceptable and illegal. When you’re in the middle of the street and cars are doing donuts in the middle of the intersection, it’s only a matter of time before somebody gets seriously hurt or killed.”
And now there’s the added risk of catching COVID-19.