LA County hits lowest 5-day COVID-19 hospitalization average since start of pandemic

Los Angeles County on Friday hit its lowest five-day average of daily COVID-19 hospitalizations since the beginning of the pandemic, health officials reported.

The five-day average of daily hospitalizations dropped to 389 as of Friday.

Currently, 376 LA County residents are hospitalized with the coronavirus, with 22% of those hospitalized in the intensive care unit.

The county on Friday also confirmed 16 new COVID-19 deaths as well as 421 new cases, bringing the countywide totals to 23,980 deaths and 1,235,118 positive cases.

Friday's daily test positivity rate was down to 0.6%.

The county on Thursday officially relaxed its coronavirus-related business restrictions to reflect its move this week into the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state's Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The county advanced to yellow this week when state figures showed the county's average rate of daily new COVID-19 infections had fallen to 1.6 per 100,000 residents, down from 1.9 last week.

RELATED: Los Angeles County moves into California's least restrictive yellow tier

Reaching the yellow tier requires a county to have a new-case rate less than 2 per 100,000 residents, and maintain that level for two consecutive weeks.

Entering the yellow tier primarily allows higher capacity limits at most businesses. Under state guidelines being followed by the county, fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries can increase indoor attendance to 50% of capacity, up from the current 25%; bars can open indoors at 25%; outdoor venues such as Dodger Stadium can increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%; and amusement parks can allow 35%, up from 25%.

Restaurant capacity remains at 50% indoors, but the new restrictions allow restaurants, bars and breweries to turn on their television sets – indoors and outdoors. The new rules will also allow outdoor live entertainment at restaurants, bars, breweries and wineries.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

Counties are permitted to impose tougher restrictions than the state allows, and LA County has done so occasionally during the pandemic. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Monday the county would largely align with state yellow-tier guidelines, but there were some exceptions.

Rules announced by the county restrict capacity at indoor museum, zoo and aquarium spaces to 75%. State guidelines have no capacity restrictions for such facilities in the yellow tier.

The county is also maintaining a 75% capacity cap at grocery and retail stores, a departure from state guidelines that lift all capacity limits in the yellow tier. Hair salons, barbershops and personal care businesses are also limited to 75%, also a departure from the state rules.

Los Angeles is the only Southern California county to advance to the yellow tier. The rest of the region remains in the slightly more restrictive orange tier.

CNS contributed to this report.