LOS ANGELES – Los Angeles County’s public health director expressed confidence Tuesday that the county will eventually emerge from the most restrictive tier of the state’s coronavirus economic-reopening roadmap, but said it will take continued commitment from residents and businesses to lower the number of new cases.
“My hope is that in the next few weeks we get to Tier 2” of the state’s reopening matrix, Barbara Ferrer told the county Board of Supervisors.
Making that move will require the county to reduce its average rate of new cases per 100,000 residents. That average needs to drop below seven to advance out of the restrictive “purple” Tier 1 and into the slightly more liberal “red” Tier 2. As of Tuesday, the county’s state-adjusted, seven-day average rate was 7.6 new cases per 100,000 residents, up from 7.4 last week.
Ferrer told the board that reducing that number will take continued action from residents, some of whom have contributed to recent upticks thanks to large gatherings held in spite of public health orders barring them. She reiterated earlier guidance from health officials suggesting that residents balance their daily risk of exposure by limiting their activities outside the home. She suggested, as an example, that if a person goes to a grocery store during the day, that person should consider staying home for dinner instead of visiting a restaurant that same day.
Large gatherings, however, have continued to vex efforts to control the spread of the virus. Health officials on Monday said the tens of thousands of people who attended a pro-Armenian march in the Mid City area on Sunday may have been exposed to the virus, and should now be avoiding others for the next 14 days and get tested for COVID-19. The same applies to the hundreds of people who flocked to downtown Los Angeles Sunday night to celebrate the Lakers’ NBA championship.
Ferrer also told the board that businesses must continue to adhere to health protocols as they welcome back customers, noting that the county has generally seen good compliance.
On Tuesday, the county reported another 18 coronavirus deaths, while health officials in Long Beach announced three additional fatalities. The new deaths increased the countywide total since the start of the pandemic to 6,793.
The county also announced 790 newly confirmed cases of the virus, while Long Beach added 40 and Pasadena reported three. Those cases lifted the overall cumulative total since the pandemic began to 283,793.
The county Department of Public Health noted that Tuesday’s number of new cases was likely artificially low due to reporting lags from the weekend and Monday’s Indigenous Peoples Day holiday.
As of Tuesday, there were 692 people hospitalized in the county due to the coronavirus, down from 693 on Monday and 715 on Sunday. Hospitalizations have generally been trending downward since July, when the daily average was topping 2,000.
Since the pandemic began, more than 2.8 million coronavirus test results have been reported in the county, with an overall positivity rate of about 9%. The more recent seven-day average has been much lower in recent weeks, hovering around 3%.
Over the weekend, health officials issued a reminder about regulations governing restaurants, breweries and wineries that may be showing sports playoff games — including Tuesday’s Dodger game.
Public Health protocols for those establishments include:
— not allowing customers to congregate in any areas or around any televisions;
— limiting to outdoor seating and no more than six people at a table;
— requiring cloth face coverings whenever customers are not eating and/or drinking, including upon arrival, when walking in and exiting the facility, and when using restrooms;
— ensuring six feet of physical distance between tables; and
— ensuring employees interacting with customers are wearing a cloth face covering and a face shield.