Californians Flock to Pasadena Restaurants Over Thanksgiving As State Breaks Record for COVID Infections

California recorded its highest average daily case count since the outbreak began on Thanksgiving Day. The state's seven-day average of daily cases reached 14,320 on November 26, according to Johns Hopkins University.

On the same day, Californians were seen celebrating Thanksgiving at restaurants in Pasadena, the only city in Los Angeles County where outdoor dining has resumed. A recent county health order has banned in-person dining, but the city has its own health department so is not obliged to comply.

Some people were reported to have driven several miles to get to Pasadena in order to eat at one of the city's restaurants.

"We're currently not seeing family. We're social distancing and we don't want to stay home alone so we made the trek from Beverly Hills to Pasadena, and it's so nice that restaurants are still open here," Pollin Farzin told Fox 11 Los Angeles.

The travel and food blogger celebrated her 30th birthday as well as Thanksgiving at Il Fornaio in Pasadena. "It was nice to have a celebration outside and being with people and feeling the warmth of others, as well."

Louisa Prouty told Fox 11 Los Angeles: "We decided to go out [for Thanksgiving] and just be us four this year. Very different from previous years." She would usually celebrate with a large extended family group, she said, but this year traveled from West Covina to Pasadena.

Her husband Rudy noted: "It's important—we're all happy just to be out, and the weather's been good. And the restaurant was good, the food was good."

Their son Spencer added: "It's refreshing—it's good to get outside more, especially when we're in school for four hours online."

Denise Palleschi told ABC 7: "There's not a lot of places open. I had to call several places to find two of them and you had to make reservations." She added: "We drove in because it's the only place that's open outside."

The health order in force elsewhere in Los Angeles County banned dining at restaurants, breweries, wineries and bars from 10:00 p.m. local time Wednesday. The restriction will be in place for three weeks and was issued as the number of new infections reached "alarming levels," according to the County of Los Angeles Public Health.

Long Beach is the only other city in the county that has its own health department, but it too has banned in-person dining.

Earlier this week, Pasadena's city council unanimously decided to keep outdoor dining options open. Case numbers will be monitored on a daily basis and decisions will be made accordingly, the council told Fox 11 Los Angeles.

The city plans to deploy health inspectors to enforce social distancing rules and check restaurants are not allowing large gatherings, NBC Los Angeles reported earlier this week.

The seven-day average of confirmed cases in Pasadena has been rising since early November, after remaining flat for most of the outbreak since late March, according to the latest report from the Pasadena Public Health Department.

In Los Angeles County, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations (including confirmed and suspected patients) and confirmed COVID-19 patients in the intensive care unit have both risen sharply since early November, according to the County of Los Angeles Public Health.

Total confirmed cases in California have surpassed 1.1 million, with 19,206 deaths as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins. The state's seven-day average of cases has been rising sharply since mid-October, after declining from mid-August.

California's daily case count is projected to reach about 34,370 by Christmas and surpass 40,000 by New Year's Day, if there is "continued easing of social distancing mandate and if mandates are not re-imposed," according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

COVID-19 testing site California November 2020
People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing site in San Fernando, California, on November 24. Several Californians traveled to Pasadena for Thanksgiving, where outdoor dining at restaurants is still allowed. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 61.1 million people since it was first reported in Wuhan, China.

More than 1.4 million people have died worldwide and more than 39.1 million have recovered as of Friday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the spread of COVID-19 cases across the U.S.

COVID-19 cases in U.S.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases by state in the U.S. as of earlier this week. Statista