Do the benefits provided by film production outweigh the coronavirus health risks? For the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the answer is leaning toward “no.”

The agency wants the entire film industry to take a beat, a rather long beat, and pause production because of the surging COVID-19 numbers.

In an email sent Dec. 24 and published by FilmLA, the official film office of the city and county, the department urged film productions in the area to slow or cease operations for the time being.

“Although music, TV and film productions are allowed to operate, we ask you to strongly consider pausing work for a few weeks during this catastrophic surge in COVID cases,” the LADPH wrote. “Identify and delay higher-risk activities, and focus on lower-risk work for now, if at all possible.”

The health department also warned industry members that traveling for production purposes is currently not advised. The rationale, it said, is that travel increases risk “by making it more likely that people will end up together in vehicles or indoors in less-controlled settings.”

Over the past weekend, the LADPH reported 13,661 new cases of COVID and, as of Dec. 23, California officially became the first state to surpass 2 million cases.

In a Monday news conference, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he expects to extend regional stay-at-home orders across the state, with an official announcement coming Tuesday.

Newsom said the state is moving into “a new phase where we prepare ourselves for what is inevitable now, based upon the travel that we have seen just in the last week and expectation of more of the same through the rest of the holiday season of a surge on top of a surge, arguably, on top of, again, another surge.”

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