With more than half of the state's coronavirus cases clustered in the county, Angelenos can expect a slower return to normal.
On a day the county reported more than 70 coronavirus deaths, Los Angeles County officials announced Tuesday a goal of achieving a "safe reopening" of the local economy as early as July 4. The move would give small businesses a chance to compete with the big box retailers able to thrive while fulfilling curbside pickup orders, she said. This week the state recorded its deadliest day of the outbreak, but health officials remain optimistic that California to slowly reopen.
At the county's daily coronavirus briefing, Supervisor Hilda Solis and public health director Barbara Ferrer tried to stress that the July 4 date is just a goal, but the mission is to reopen the economy sooner than later, recognizing that residents are growing tired of continued stay-at-home restrictions.
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With an population of about 10 million, that percentage equates to about 465,000 people in the county being infected, a number vastly greater than the roughly 39,000 cases that have actually been confirmed.
Ferrer echoed that optimistic tone, while also acknowledging that methodology may have contributed to the drop in percentage of antibody-positive tests.
"This is the age group that makes up the majority of our workforce", Ferrer said. "We have worked together doing our part to save lives".
While the case numbers continue to go up, Ferrer stressed that key indicators tracked by the health department show that the spread of the virus is slowing. "It's still relatively easy to get infected", she said.
"So as more businesses and public spaces are open, as individuals and institutions, we do need to take care of each other by continuing to practice physical distancing wearing our cloth face coverings and following all of the directives for creating as much safety as possible", she said. Based on results of the second round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 2.1% of the County's adult population has antibody to the virus. That figure is down from 4.1% in test subjects just one month ago.
But she also notes the average recent rates of hospitalizations and deaths in the county are decreasing and one study suggests the rate of COVID-19 prevalence didn't rise between March and April. There are 1,531 people who are now hospitalized, 28% of these people are in the ICU and 19% are on ventilators.
Ferrer said county hospitals had enough capacity to handle patients and while equipment levels were not as high as they should be, the supply of equipment was adequate.
"We're not quite there yet", Ferrer said.
Though exclusively L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger formally introduced the July 4 date and there has but to be a remark from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Ferrer stated that she believes it useful to have a timeframe in thoughts by way of reopening L.A.
"Let's be frank: The economic crisis for communities of color predates COVID-19", Solis said at Thursday's briefing. Over the past few months, scientists have learned that COVID-19, along with having a high number of asymptomatic infections, can have a lengthy presymptomatic phase, meaning that it could take weeks for a change in the infection "curve" to be detected.
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