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Claremont Courier - A Local Nonprofit Newsroom

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 Angeles County, so it remains in the most restrictive tier of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy.

The county now reverts to the local health officer order that was issued as the current surge was beginning in late November. As a result, some types of businesses were allowed to reopen Monday, 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 warned that if another surge occurs she will not hesitate to impose more strict restrictions once again.

“It is really up to us whether we can sustain reopenings without jeopardizing each other’s health and our ability to get more schools to reopen. The only way for this to occur is to keep doing what keeps the virus in check. Just because some sectors have reopened doesn’t mean that the risk for community transmission has gone away; it hasn’t and each of us needs to make very careful choices about what we do,” Ms. Ferrer said.

She emphasized that every action we take to protect others prevents the tragedy of illness and death. People should remain vigilant by wearing masks when in public, practicing social distancing, washing hands thoroughly and avoiding crowds.

“Public Health is sending notices to businesses and other operations that are reopening to remind them of the safety directives that must be in place for them to open. Public health will be issuing citations for violation,” health officials said in a statement.

Key virus metrics in the county have been falling for several weeks, most importantly, the daily average number of people hospitalized. On Wednesday the county reported 6,213 people with COVID-19 were currently hospitalized with 25 percent in intensive care units. The seven-day average hospitalization rate is approximately 7,000—a 12.5 percent decrease from the peak of 8,065 on January 6.

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 last weekend. On Wednesday the county reported 307 deaths, although some of these were people who died over the weekend but whose deaths were not recorded until now due to the reporting lag. Of theses new deaths 208 were older than 65, however 20 were between 30 and 49 and two were younger than 30 showing that not all young people are immune to the ravages of COVID-19.

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 2,018 with 42 deaths. According to county data, there have been 101 new cases over the last week, and three deaths.

Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC) offered updated information about scheduling a vaccination this week for residents trying to schedule an appointment on the L.A. County website.

The key to securing an appointment is patience and continually refreshing the county’s website if it fails to load properly due to high traffic. The best times to sign up are mid-week either early or late in the day.

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.

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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