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Regional stay-at-home order ends, outdoor dining resumes Friday

by Steven Felschundneff | steven@claremont-courier.com

Following the state’s lead, Los Angeles County health officials announced on Monday that the region’s stay-at-home order would end, paving the way for certain businesses to reopen.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Monday morning that, based on the current data, hospital capacity throughout the state, in particular intensive care beds, was projected to be at 33 percent in four weeks, reaching the benchmark for lifting the statewide stay-at-home order. However, the coronavirus is still widespread in Los Angels County, so it remains in the most restrictive tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The county now reverts to the health officer order that was issued as the current surge was beginning in late November. As a result, some types of businesses may reopen immediately, such as personal care, museums and fitness centers—although with significant restrictions. A new order will come from the county on Friday allowing restaurants to reopen outdoor dining and lifting the 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. restriction on hours of operation.

However, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer cautioned people against letting their guard down too soon, and warning that if another surge occurs she will not hesitate to impose more strict restrictions once again.

“This is not the time to think we can go back to regular activities,” Ms. Ferrer said reminding county residents that the community spread is still quire high and people should remain vigilant by wearing masks when in public, practice social distancing, wash hands thoroughly and avoiding crowds. She emphasized that every action we take to protect others prevents the tragedy of illness and death.

Key virus metrics in the county have been falling for several weeks, most importantly, the daily average number of people hospitalized. During a news conference on Monday, Ms. Ferrer said 6,486 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms, and the seven-day average is approximately 7,000. That is a 12.5 percent decrease from the peak around January 1. The number of new cases has dropped dramatically over the same time period, from an average of 15,000 per day at the beginning of the year to 7,000 now. As the case rate dropped, so did the positivity rate from a high of 20 percent to 12.5 on Monday.

Tragically the death rate, which is considered a lagging indicator, is still quite high at nearly 200 per day and the county reached the sad milestone of 15,000 deaths this weekend.

During Monday’s briefing, Ms. Ferrer noted that January 26 marked the one year anniversary of Los Angeles County’s first coronavirus case. She took the opportunity to thank all of the frontline health care workers who have labored so long to fight this pandemic.

In Claremont the cumulative case total is now exactly 2,000 with 40 deaths. According to county data, there have been 127 new cases over the last week, and three deaths.

Vaccinations continue to proceed at a slow pace in the county, but progress is being made. Ms. Ferrer said the county has received 853,650 doses of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines combined. Seventy-six percent of these have been administered, with the rest either being held back for second doses or scheduled for people who have appointments in the coming weeks.

The challenge continues to be the sheer demand from the public now that roughly 1.3 million residents 65 and over can make vaccine appointments. That number in addition to 600,000 healthcare workers and another 100,000 in congregate settings equals roughly 2 million people who currently qualify for the inoculation. However, to be fully vaccinated these people need two doses, so the county needs 4 million doses to cover all of these people.

“Our ability to vaccinate remains constrained by supply,” Ms. Ferrer said.

All appointments for this week are full, according to a news release from the county, but they expect a new shipment at the end of the week so those who qualify should check the website frequently.

To make an appointment, visit VaccinateLACounty.com or if you, or a loved one, does not have computer access, please call 833-540-0473.

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