LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles county average daily rate of new COVID-19 cases fell again, but still remained too high to allow a move to the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state’s economic reopening blueprint.
To advance to the yellow tier of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the county would need a seven-day average new case rate of less than 2 per 100,000 residents. The weekly update released by the state on Tuesday, April 20, showed the county with a rate of 2.7 per 100,000 residents. That was down from 3.2 last week.
The numbers mean Los Angeles County will remain in the orange tier of the reopening framework for at least two to three weeks. Counties must meet the threshold for advancing in the blueprint for at least two consecutive weeks before actually moving up.
But while the county won’t be advancing, the drop in the case rate and a reduction in the county’s testing-positivity rate to 1.2% shows that infection-control measures are continuing to pay off.
“We’re encouraged at the continued stable case rates and our daily test positivity rate, which averages about 1%, suggests true progress in slowing transmission,” County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
Ferrer again warned against complacency, noting that cases could surge again if people become lax about adhering to safety rules, particularly with recent loosening of restrictions allowing attendance at sporting events and other gatherings. But she said she has been pleased with the compliance seen so far.
“I want to acknowledge that as I visited a number of our large event venues last week, I was tremendously impressed with all the efforts being made by staff and owners to adhere to the required safety measures, ensuring that spectators are spaced appropriately apart to maintain physical distancing and asking and ensuring that all spectators are wearing masks, unless they’re eating and drinking in appropriate areas.
“I also want to thank the fans at the sporting events and the live events for doing their part to follow the safety directives and to keep their masks on,” she said. “It is great to be able to enjoy these activities again and I know that it’s taken a lot of adjustments and hard work for this to happen.”
Ferrer said Monday that schools in the county have been showing excellent compliance with safety protocols, insisting that it is safe for students to return for in-person instruction.
She noted that of the five current outbreaks of COVID-19 involving school, all were the result of participating in youth sports, not from attending classes.
She said the county would be reviewing youth sports protocols this week to see if any adjustments can be made.
Speaking to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, Ferrer said there has also been generally strong compliance among other business sectors, such as restaurants, bars, gyms and personal care. She said compliance during inspections from April 12 through April 18 ranged from 70% to 100%, depending on the sector.
“Most establishments are following the public health protocols, and we thank all the businesses and patrons for working hard to adhere to the reopening measures,” she said. “We do continue to see pockets where compliance is lacking, and this non-compliance for significant violations includes a lack of physical distancing, employees not protected by wearing face coverings and/or shields, and a lot of examples where the occupancy limits are exceeded.”
Ferrer said inspectors focus on educating businesses owners rather than issuing citations, but a handful of the roughly 1,000 businesses inspected were cited, including 13 restaurants, five bars and two gyms.
Ferrer on Tuesday announced another 33 COVID-19 deaths in the county, raising the cumulative death toll to 23,668.
Another 360 new cases were confirmed by the county, while Long Beach added 31 and Pasadena one, raising the overall total from throughout the pandemic to 1,229,673.
According to state figures, there were 484 people hospitalized in Los Angeles County due to COVID, up from 465 on Monday. The number of people in intensive care was 109, up from 96 on Monday.