Many people across Los Angeles partied like they never heard of COVID-19 this year.
From Jan. 1-Nov. 30, the Los Angeles Police Department fielded 29,558 service calls in response to loud parties. That represents a 22% increase from the 24,201 calls during the same time in 2019, according to public service call data.
Calls received by LAPD about parties, Jan.-Nov. 2019 vs. 2020
The spike is disconcerting, as coronavirus cases are now surging. Worse, it is a trend that could continue this week, if people from different households get together to celebrate the arrival of the new year.
Party calls increased in the first two months of 2020, and although Gov. Gavin Newsom and Mayor Eric Garcetti issued lockdown orders in March, the LAPD still received 1,962 calls that month, a mere 6% decrease from March 2019.
But by April, there were 2,654 calls about parties, a 55% increase from the same month the year before. May’s 3,508 calls marked a 41% rise from 2019.
The party calls shed some insight into possibly why the region has not been able to get a handle on curbing new infections.
In many instances, more than one person may be reporting each party or loud gathering, and the fact that individuals are spending more time at home may lead to a spike in calls. Meghan Aguilar, an LAPD spokesperson, said it is safe to assume more people are calling the police due to concerns over gatherings during the pandemic.
“I’ve called the cops on two parties in the Palms neighborhood,” said one frustrated Reddit user who did not want to give their name for fear of retaliation from neighbors. “I’ve been working from home, exclusively using grocery delivery and Amazon for items, and have not hung out with anyone other than my significant other since March.”
The resident said one party brought together a mix of ages from children to adults with no masks, no social distancing, loud music and drinking games. A second party, the person said, was an indoor gathering this month with at least 25 people in a nearby apartment.
Calls received by LAPD about parties, by month, 2019 vs. 2020
Local lockdown orders began being lifted in May, and in June county restaurants were allowed to open at limited capacity with patrons socially distanced. That month, service calls to the LAPD about parties dropped to 1,913, 36% below the previous year.
The next month, however, figures began spiking, whether because of Fourth of July celebrations or because, with bars and other spots closed, people were gathering at private homes. The LAPD received 2,832 party calls that month, up 21.5% from the previous year. By August, there were 3,676 calls, a nearly 44% increase from 2019.
Calls slowly tapered off from September through November, but still remained from 26% to 32% higher than in 2019.
The rise in reports may have people frustrated, but some who just want to party point to inconsistencies from top-level leaders. That extends to Newsom, who violated his own order by attending a birthday dinner for a friend at the French Laundry restaurant in Napa in November.
“If our own leaders are not capable, how do you expect regular average citizens who don’t have nearly the same resources to do so?,” one Reddit user commented.
Another Reddit user said their family has been working from home and home-schooling for nine months and frustrated that the local, state and federal government seem “incapable of working together to resolve this crisis.”
“We focus so much on the anti-maskers/anti-lockdown group that we lose sight on what people are doing in their communities to help stop the spread,” the person added.
Lockdowns across Los Angeles starting in March were meant to keep residents at least six feet away from each other, but the 29% increase in party calls in November shows that many people continue to gather. Indeed, COVID-19 has surged across the region, with the county reporting more than 11,000 new cases each day since Dec. 15.
Concerns are high that, if people gather on New Year’s Eve, the case count could spike even higher in the early part of 2021.
How we did it: We examined LAPD service call data from Jan. 1-Nov. 30, 2020 and 2019.
Interested in our data or have additional questions? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.