With a decision still pending on possible reopening of indoor shopping malls and hair salons, Los Angeles County health officials Tuesday stepped up their campaign against public gatherings over the upcoming Labor Day holiday, despite downward coronavirus trends.
The county Department of Public Health reported another 45 deaths due to the virus on Tuesday, while Long Beach reported one additional fatality. The new deaths raised the overall total since the start of the pandemic to 5,830.
The county also announced another 840 new coronavirus cases — a rare dip below the 1,000 mark — while Long Beach reported 150 and Pasadena added 11. The total number of cases since the pandemic began stood at 242,781 as of Tuesday. Long Beach and Pasadena both have their own health departments separate from the county.
One new COVID-19 infection was confirmed in West Hollywood, bringing the total number to date to 500 or one of every 74 residents.
According to the county, the seven-day average daily number of new cases has dropped to 1,300, continuing a steady decline. Health officials have been reporting downward trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations — with 1,057 people hospitalized with the virus as of Tuesday.
But while things are trending in the right direction, health officials continued what is likely to be a daily call for residents to avoid large gatherings over the upcoming holiday weekend, fearing a repeat of case spikes seen after the Memorial Day and Fourth of July weekends.
In a statement, the county Department of Public Health warned again that “it is important not to gather with people who aren’t part of your household as it puts you at risk for COVID-19.”
The county released a list of activities that are banned by the Health Officer Orders, “even if they feel safe.” Those activities included baby showers, gender-reveal parties, backyard barbecues for Labor Day, student study groups, Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur dinners, and “gathering at the each with friends over the hot weekend.”
Health officials did not make any immediate announcements about the possibility of indoor shopping malls and hair salons being permitted to reopen. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Monday that such an announcement could be made Tuesday afternoon, but there were no immediate disclosures about changes in the Health Officer Orders.
Under new guidelines from the state, indoor shopping malls can reopen with restrictions, including a 25% capacity limit, as can indoor hair salons and barbershops, also with restrictions. But even though the state allows those businesses to reopen, individual counties can maintain tighter restrictions, based on the local health situation.
“As we look at the possibility of re-opening more businesses and, eventually, schools, there is a lot at stake,” county public health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “Increased numbers of people being around one another can result in more transmission of COVID-19, at a time where we need to be doubling down on our efforts to slow the spread. Our past weekend inspections demonstrated that 20% of restaurants and 17% of markets are still not in compliance with the Health Officer Orders. This does not help us get our numbers down.”
Hoping to address compliance issues at businesses, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a motion calling for the creation of trained worker “health councils,” which will monitor companies’ adherence to health orders.
“Health councils will strengthen our compliance system and allow concerned employees and community nonprofits to serve as additional `eyes and ears’ to help us contain the pandemic,” Supervisor Sheila Kuehl said. “We all need to pitch in to protect public safety and fight COVID-19.”
That move has been opposed by the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which argues that it puts an unnecessary burden on local business owners already struggling to stay in business.
In Beverly Hills, the number of confirmed remains at 613. The number of COVID-19 related deaths in Beverly Hills remains at 11. The number of COVID-19 infection confirmed among Culver City residents remains at 372. The number of deaths remains at 29. Hollywood has five newly confirmed infections, bringing its total to date is 1,067. The number of deaths remains at 12. The Melrose neighborhood has five new confirmed infections, bringing its total to date to 1,755. The number of COVID-19 related deaths has increased by one to 68.
Public Health has a dedicated call line for confirmed cases of COVID-19. If you are positive for COVID-19 and have not yet connected with a public health specialist or need more information on services, call toll-free at 1 (833) 540-0473. Residents who do not have COVID-19 can continue to call 211 for resources or more information.
One way the virus can be transmitted is through a cough, a sneeze or even through air that comes from the mouth when someone talks. For that reason, residents must wear face coverings when out in public and can be cited for not doing so. The citations come with a $250 fine and a $50 administrative fee.
West Hollywood residents with questions about the COVID-19 pandemic or who are looking for resources to deal with it can find answers on the City of West Hollywood’s website. Here is a list of links to sections about particular subjects and issues: