LocationAlhambra , CA
As Southern California headed into Memorial Day weekend, L.A. County officials issued a revised public health order loosening more restrictions imposed to stem COVID-19 infections.
Beaches, parking lots and bike paths will be allowed to reopen. Swimming, surfing, running, walking and new bicycling and skating can be done at Southland beaches. However, sun bathing, large gatherings and group sports activities like volleyball are still not permitted.
Stores located in indoor malls with no direct street access may now reopen but only if they can arrange for curbside delivery of goods. Malls throughout much of the state are closed for in-person shopping in stores. And, generally, high-risk businesses either inside or outside a mall setting – like tattoo and body massage parlors – will remain closed.
And, as graduation season continues, the county has lifted its restrictions on vehicular parades to honor school classes. This comes at a time when nearly all the traditional rites of passage for high school seniors — proms, grad nites and in-person commencement activities — have been cancelled to conform to the public health directives on safe social distancing. Promotion ceremonies in elementary schools have been similarly impacted. It was not immediately clear from the press briefing or the follow up press release what the new guidelines would entail or if they would be determined by individual cities or school districts.
After announcing the easing of these curbs, Kathryn Barger, chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, said that beginning next week, the County press briefings, which had been held each weekday since at least mid-March, would be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only.
In announcing the daily toll from COVID-19, Barbara Ferrer, the director of the County Department of Public Health, wished everyone a happy Memorial Day weekend but cautioned that face masks and social distancing are still mandatory. Gatherings outside the household and events are still not permitted.
“The job we do now affects the number of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths we will see in a few weeks time,” she said.
“The virus has not changed and it is still easy to become infected.” But in question time, she said that “data points are looking good” and death rates and hospitalization rates have seen a double-digit decrease.
Ferrer reported 35 deaths since Thursday bringing the coronavirus toll to 2,049. Of that number 93% had underlying health conditions, which is a slight increase in that category. To put underlying conditions in perspective, Ferrer said that between 35% and 40% of L.A. County’s 10 million residents have underlying health conditions. She again urged residents with underlying conditions to avoid public places and contact with people outside the home.
The number of new cases reported Friday was 1,072 bringing the total number of cases to 43,052. Of that number 7,046 are residents of skilled nursing facilities or similar institutional facilities and congregate workplaces. Ferrer said that 1,081 of the deaths in the county have occurred in residents at skilled nursing facilities, which is about 52% of the total. The county is continuing to conduct tests at all congregate living facilities but it was not immediately clear if that meant repeated blanket testing of all staff and residents or just targeted testing of symptomatic individuals.
About 412,000 test results of all residents of L.A. County have been reported to the County Health Department and 9% of those tests have been positive. This figure has stayed fairly steady in recent days. Alhambra has 170 cases reported on the county website and eight deaths. There is no additional information on the eight deaths. Alhambra has its own by-appointment testing program in place until the end of the month. More information may be found at this the City of Alhambra website.
Ferrer spent some time talking about the disparity of deaths among various ethnic communities in L.A. County, again noting that people living in high areas of poverty have been particularly hard hit. She cited Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders and African-Americans with alarmingly high figures. She added that the county continues to assess the data to find solutions in this health crisis going forward.
The county website has a number of dashboards breaking down data on the COVID-19 epidemic. That website can be found at this link.