L.A. Slides Further Away From Reopening – Deadline

After a week in which the average daily new coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County rose from around 1,000 to just a hair under 1,600, county health officials reported the region’s chances of reopening under California Governor Gavin Newsom’s guidance structure have dimmed further.

Newsom’s tiered reopening structure uses three metrics to quantify a county’s readiness to proceed. They are: case rate per 100,000, test positivity rate and a health equity metric, which seeks to ensure that test positivity rates in a county’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods do not significantly lag behind its overall county numbers.

L.A. County’s overall test positivity rate is 3.7% which meets the threshold for Tier 3 (Moderate) and the test positivity rate in our lowest-resourced areas is 6.2% which meets the threshold for Tier 2 (Substantial).

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Tier 3 would allow movie theaters to reopen to 50% in the county. Tier 3 would also put the county just 1 step away from being able to reopen theme parks with a guest limit of 25% across the board.

Unfortunately, the County’s daily case numbers continue to keep it in the State’s most restrictive Purple Tier (Tier 1). In fact, L.A. County’s adjusted case rate is backsliding.

On Wednesday, the health department reported that L.A. new cases per 100,000 people is now at 8.0. This is an increase from the 7.6 adjusted case rate reported last week. In order to move to the next less restrictive tier, the County must reduce its daily number of new cases to 7 or fewer new cases per 100,000 people for two consecutive weeks.

See the governor’s tiered rankings and requirements below.

On Tuesday, Newsom announced that seven counties were moving to less restrictive tiers.

Glenn and Mendocino Counties moved from the Purple to Red Tier.

Contra Costa, Marin, San Mateo and Santa Cruz Counties moved from the Red to Orange Tier.

Calaveras County moved from the Orange to Yellow Tier.

Los Angeles confirmed 20 new deaths and 1,351 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday. Cases have increased from an average of about 940 new cases per day at the beginning of October, to, as of last week, an average of almost 1,200 new cases per day, to a 7-day average of 1,596 daily new cases on Wednesday.

The county has not yet seen a resulting spike in hospitalizations or deaths. L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer noted the county’s newer cases are occurring primarily among younger people who are less likely to become seriously ill or require hospitalization.

Despite the upticks in daily case numbers and positivity rate, the county on Wednesday reported a drop in the overall transmission rate — or the average number of people a COVID-19 patient infects with the virus. As of Wednesday, the rate was at 0.95, down from 1.04 a week ago. Health officials said keeping the rate below 1.0 is critical to ensure a drop in cases. If the number is above 1.0, cases are anticipated to increase. There is, however, a margin of error that is usually about .03 on either side of the cited number.

Ferrer said on Monday that the recent spike in cases is the result of “decisions we collectively made two to three weeks ago. And the actions we’re taking today will influence whether we’re able to continue our recovery journey, or we stall or even take steps backward. We do need to slow the transmission to allow for economic recovery.”

On the same day, L.A. County Health Officer Muntu Davis issued a health advisory for private gatherings and public celebrations.

Citing the high risk of COVID-19 infection at such events given the increasing rate of COVID-19 community transmission, Davis said that “it is critical that we all take action to slow the spread” as we close in on Halloween, Thanksgiving and the winter holidays.

“There have been too many instances of people unknowingly spreading the virus at these types of gatherings, which, sadly, has led to new infections, serious illness and death,” continued Davis.

Ferrer also repeated a warning she first made last week, saying that the recent uptick in cases is likely in part due to celebrations around the Lakers’ and Dodgers’ championship runs.

“As a reminder, people who have been part of celebratory crowds, where they have been in close contact with others, not wearing face coverings and not distancing may have been exposed to COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “And they should all take the following precautions for the next 14 days: remain apart from others as much as possible, get tested and monitor yourself for symptoms of illness.

“If you know that you were in contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, please quarantine for the full 14 days, even if you have a negative test result,” she said.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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