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Managing virus risk vs restarting economy: updated 6-19

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Los Angeles County officials continue to walk a thin line between restarting local economies and persisting in their efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Claremont cases spiked again, rising to 77 as of Thursday evening, an increase of five cases in one day, a six percent increase. Claremont’s confirmed cases have been going up for several weeks and have increased 11 percent from last Thursday. The jump in local infections is partly tied to the continuing outbreak at the Country Villa Claremont Healthcare Center, which now has 22 residents and 13 staff testing positive for COVID-19. Two people associated with Country Villa Claremont have died, the same number reported as total deaths in Claremont. However, the five new cases reported in the past 24 hours are not associated with Country Villa Claremont, as the number of cases among residents there has not changed since yesterday.

According to a news release on Friday from the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the number of cases countywide was 79,609, a 11.5 percent increase from last week. There were 3,063 deaths (a 7.5 percent increase)?over the same time period.

It’s well documented that older people are more likely to die from COVID-19, however, they are far less likely to get the virus than much younger people, according to an analysis from the Los Angeles Times. People over the age of 80 account for approximately 45 percent of the deaths, but significantly less than 10 percent of the infections. The largest demographic for infections is those ages 18 to 34 at 30 percent, followed by those ages 35 to 49 at roughly 25 percent, and those ages 50 to 64 at approximately 22 percent. People over 65 account for just 15 percent of the infections, but about 75 percent of the deaths.

Los Angels County remains the number-one COVID-19 hotspot in California,  with 47.5 percent of total cases and 57 percent of deaths. However, as testing increases, the total number of cases has become less reliable as an indication of an outbreak, so health officials are increasingly focused on hospitalizations to gauge the spread of the virus.

There are 1,446 people currently hospitalized in the county which is slightly higher than the average over the past 14 days of 1,412. During that same two week period the high was 1,488 hospitalizations on June 5 and the low was 1,285 on June 15. A month ago, the average number of daily hospitalizations was 1,636, which is 11.5 percent more than today. Positive hospitalization numbers are among the major reasons the county has been able to reopen some businesses to restart the economy.

Because of relaxed restrictions under the 14-week-old Safer at Home order, the Claremont Village has been noticeably busier with many restaurants and retail establishment reopening. Claremont could be getting a lot more crowded because Friday’s news release from LA County Public Health also announced that another big sector of the economy is cleared to reopen.

Business that are now cleared to open their doors include: card rooms, satellite wagering facilities and racetracks with no spectators. Personal care services including nail salons, estheticians, skin care, cosmetology services and massage therapy may also reopen, as well as body art professionals, tattoo parlors and piercing shops.

Assistant City Manager Chris Paulson announced Thursday that 55 applicants for the city’s rental assistance program would receive two months of rental payments totaling $177,552. The checks are scheduled to be mailed on Thursday, June 25. Mr. Paulson said the program would benefit 55 Claremont households.

Eleven Claremont business owners will receive small business grants, and the city is set to award  $76,435 next week to cover the first month’s subsidy. The total amount available to business applicants is $152,869, which will be divvyed up in grants from as little as $3,607 to the maximum of $20,000. The program still has $129,645 remaining, and city staff will continue to sift through applications until the funds are exhausted.

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