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L.A. County Allows More Businesses to Reopen; Loosens Restrictions on Recreation

A screen capture of the Facebook Live online streaming of the L.A. County daily press briefing, on May 13, 2020. Director of LACDPH Barbara Ferrer gives the status update.

Location

Alhambra , CA

As the L.A. County Department of Public Health entered a new phase in the “Safer at Home” order, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced a lifting of restrictions on a number of businesses and activities in the county. 

Lower-risk retailers, unless they are in enclosed malls with no direct access to streets, can reopen as long as they can conduct curbside service. The public is not allowed to go inside these retailers, Ferrer said.

Manufacturing and logistics businesses that support the lower-risk retailers may also reopen. But before either the lower-risk retailers or their suppliers can open their doors, they must prepare, implement and post their plan for adhering to health department orders including distancing and infection control practices to protect employees and customers. 

Effective Friday, what she termed “low contact recreation facilities may open.” And she listed them as tennis courts, equestrian centers, pickleball courts, archery and shooting ranges, and community gardens. Ferrer also said that county beaches were reopening today for active recreation, swimming, surfing, walking or jogging on the sand but activities like picnicking and sunbathing are still not allowed. She said that bike paths next to or on beaches will remain closed as will parking lots, piers and boardwalks. The use of face masks and social distancing must be practiced at all these recreational locations.

She said that some areas of the county may closed streets to vehicular traffic to allow the public to exercise, again in a safe, socially-distant manner.

The county Public Health office will monitor these retailers and the activity centers to determine compliance with guidelines and it is possible the order would be adjusted as appropriate. The county is now in stage two of a five-stage “Roadmap to Recovery” and the adjustment to restrictions announced today indicated that the county is in the second phase of stage two.

At the start of the session, Ferrer took a few minutes to apologize for any misunderstanding that may have occurred from comments she made at the L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday. Her remarks there indicated that the “Safer at Home” order would stay in effect for another three months. And while it is true that a Health Officer Order will remain in effect it will seemingly not be the same level of severity that was in place at the high point of the lockdown. The order will also be open-ended and can be extended or ended as circumstances warrant.

It will still, however, be called the “Safer at Home” order as Ferrer said she believes, that loosening of the restrictions aside, L.A. County residents are still safer at home.

Ferrer also reported an additional 47 deaths from COVID-19 since Tuesday bringing the death toll to 1,659. To put the last month in context, Ferrer noted that on April 13 there were 363 deaths in the county from COVID-19. So the toll of fatalities has increased by nearly 1,300 in a month’s time. Full details on the latest numbers including city-by-city breakdowns may be found at the department’s coronavirus list of locations or on the COVID-19 surveillance dashboard.

She also reported that 835 deaths, or a full 50% of the county’s total, are of residents of institutional facilities, most of which are skilled nursing facilities.

The daily tally also recorded an additional 1,264 cases. The high case increase is partly due to the time-lag in getting reports from labs over the weekend. That brings the total of positive cases in Los Angeles County to 34,428.

In putting the grim figures into context with the revisions to the health officer order, Ferrer said, as she has over the last several days, “that recovery will be a slow journey. This will be our new normal for the foreseeable future.”

She emphasized again that more people die from COVID-19 in L.A. County every day than from any other cause. 

Asked during question time when she thought families may soon be admitted to skilled nursing facilities to again see loved ones, Ferrer acknowledged the terrible hardship these restrictions have had and said “we are looking for guidance from the CDC” to determine conditions under which that might be allowed to happen.

She noted that this pandemic has taken an “economic toll, emotional toll and physical toll” beyond just the disease itself.

“People are fearful,” she said adding that people have told her informally that they are not willing to go back to work or to malls or to large congregate settings even after the Public Health Officer Order is finally lifted. 


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Los Angeles County Department of Public Health page.

For all of the reporting from the Alhambra Source, go to our Stay Healthy page.


The Los Angeles County COVID-19 press briefing is streamed online at 1 p.m. Monday through Friday, on the L.A. County Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

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