LOS ANGELES – Citing improving conditions in hospitals, state health officials Monday lifted all regional stay-at-home orders, including in Los Angeles County, but counties will still be subject to the tight regulations of the restrictive “purple” tier of economic reopening guidelines.
The regional stay-at-home order was imposed late last year when intensive-care unit capacity dropped below 15%. The regional capacity subsequently dropped to an adjusted 0%. But state officials said Monday that with hospitalization numbers trending downward, four-week projections now indicate ICU capacity will rise above the 15% threshold.
“Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” said Dr. Tomas Aragon, CDPH director and state public health officer. “Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer- term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner.”
Although the state order has been lifted, individual counties are still able to impose stricter restrictions than the state. It was unclear if Los Angeles County — considered a national epicenter of the current COVID-19 surge — would be easing any of its restrictions. But in general, lifting the state order could mean a resumption of outdoor dining, as well as at least some services at gyms, barber shops and nail salons, among other businesses.
A possible resumption of outdoor dining could be the biggest economic boon of the announcement. On Sunday, the California Restaurant Association sent its members a letter announcing the pending state decision, saying, “we thought you’d like to know this good news.”
On Sunday, the county reported 8,243 new cases of COVID-19 and 98 additional deaths, bringing the county’s totals to 1,073,111 cases and 15,260 fatalities. There were 6,697 people with COVID-19 hospitalized in the county as of Sunday, down from 6,881 a day earlier. View the latest detailed report by city and demographics here. LA County health officials have noted that hospitalization numbers were leveling off, but patient populations were still dramatically high.
“We are also seeing a decline in hospitalizations and several other indicators we track, including test positivity rate, percentage of emergency department visits associated with COVID-19 and percentage of respiratory specimens positive for COVID at sentinel laboratory surveillance sites,” said Dr. Paul Simon, the Department’s chief science officer.
“However, despite these promising trends, I do want to emphasize that the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths remain far too high,” Simon said. “So while there’s reason to be hopeful, we all must remain vigilant and continue to be disciplined, wearing masks, physically distancing when outside the home, avoiding gatherings and washing our hands frequently.”
Officials with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health have been urging patience among residents anxious to get a COVID-19 vaccination, with supplies remaining woefully short and the overburdened online reservation system leaving many people frustrated as they try to schedule appointments.
The county expects to receive about 143,900 more doses of vaccine this week. However, since people need to receive two doses of the medication, spaced three to four weeks apart, the bulk of the vaccine coming this week will be used to administer second doses to people who have already received the first shot. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer estimated earlier that only 37,900 of the new doses will be available for people to receive their first dose.
Eight new cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS- C) were reported Saturday. This brings the total cases of MIS-C in L.A. County to 62 children, one of whom has died. All 62 were hospitalized and 45% were treated in the ICU. Of the children with MIS-C, 31% were under 5 years old; 37% were between 5 and 11; and 32% were between 12 and 20. Latino/Latinx children account for nearly 74% of the reported cases.
MIS-C is an inflammatory condition associated with COVID-19. Symptoms include fever that does not go away and inflamed body parts, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs. If you believe your child is displaying MIS-C symptoms, contact your primary care or urgent care provider. Seek emergency care for critical or life-threatening conditions. If you do not have a primary care provider, dial 211 and L.A. County will help connect you to one.