LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County beaches will reopen under certain restrictions, "relatively soon," the county's Public Health Director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer said during Tuesday afternoon's press briefing.
Ferrer stated that with the county's "Safer-at-Home" health order expiring in just 10 days, she thinks the county will "have a plan that’ll have our beaches reopen in ways that are safe."
As the county plans on soon reopening some businesses and getting people back to work, Public Health will be tracking key measures to ensure it is safe to do so in a way that will continue to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The measures include making sure the county has the tools to slow the spread and that it is effective at slowing the spread.
County officials provided the following specifics:
Capacity to Slow the Spread
• Tracking hospital capacity to manage a surge in cases and people with serious illness.
• Tracking sufficient supply of PPE for all health care workers.
• Tracking sufficient testing capacity and testing supplies.
• Tracking adequate capacity to do case and contact tracing.
Effectiveness at Slowing the Spread
• Tracking mortality rates throughout the process of reopening, including by age, poverty level and race and ethnicity.
• Tracking hospitalization rates by age, poverty level, and race/ethnicity.
• Tracking whether people who are at greater risk of serious illness are able to easily access testing.
County leaders said they plan to release more information on the county's recovery and reopening plan later this week.
On Tuesday, the county reported 1,638 new coronavirus cases and 58 additional deaths, bringing the county's totals to 27,815 cases and 1,313 deaths.
Of the newly reported deaths, 43 were individuals over the age of 65, 38 of which had underlying health conditions. Ten individuals were between the ages of 41 and 65, seven of which had underlying health conditions. One individual with underlying health conditions who died was between the ages of 18 and 40. The data on the remaining cases was not immediately available.
Approximately 93% of all the county residents who died from the virus had underlying health conditions. Ferrer said this emphasizes the county's need to protect those with underlying health conditions and urges those residents to stay at home as much as possible. She said this includes, but is not limited to, individuals with asthma, those who have had cancer, anyone with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and anyone who is immune-compromised.
"If you're part of one of these groups, you need to take every precaution imaginable to protect yourself from COVID-19," said Ferrer.
According to Public Health, 5,081 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 at some point required hospitalization during their battle with the illness. There are 1,779 individuals currently hospitalized in the county with the virus, Ferrer said.
Testing capacity continues to increase in LA County, with testing results available for over 182,000 individuals and 13% of those people testing positive.
While LA County officials have not released data on the number of COVID-19 patients that have recovered from the virus within the county, John's Hopkins University reports that more than 187,000 patients have recovered nationwide.
Last week, Public Health said that based on new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they are now requiring anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19 to self-isolate for 10 days and 72 hours after fever and symptoms subside.
"New evidence suggests it may take longer for the virus to shed, which means that an infected person may be able to infect other people for a longer period of time than was initially thought," Public Health wrote in a news release. "This means you must stay home until your fever has resolved without the use of fever-reducing medications and there is improvement in your respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) for at least three days (72 hours) after recovery, AND at least 10 days have passed since your symptoms first appeared or you were tested."
On April 10, the county extended its "safer-at-home" order until May 15. The health order now requires all residents in LA County to wear a face-covering when entering an essential business. It also requires all essential business employees to wear a face-covering if their work involves interacting with others.
Public Health continues to stress to the public that while a majority of those who have died from COVID-19 in the county had underlying health conditions, not everyone does. Residents are urged to continue to take the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves from the virus.
Health officials say that social distancing remains our best defense against the virus, and all residents are instructed to abide by current measures in place across the state. Social distancing is not only about preventing the illness itself, but rather, slowing the rate at which people get sick.
On April 3, the CDC announced that it would be recommending people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The use of face coverings is believed to help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, without knowing it, from transmitting it to others.
This comes as more evidence is emerging that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. Earlier this month, the CDC changed how it was defining risk of infection for Americans, saying anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.
In accordance with new guidelines from the CDC, Public Health said that anyone who begins to experience symptoms must contact those they were in contact with up to 48 hours prior to having symptoms in order for them to self-isolate.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and a new loss of taste or smell. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should call their healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
Click here for a list of locations of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County.
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