LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County officials on Friday detailed the prerequisites that will need to be met before the county relaxes its "Safer-At-Home" order.
The county’s four benchmarks that need to be achieved before they begin to lift restrictions are:
1. Capacity in the healthcare system — the county will need adequate staffing, testing and ventilators to handle routine care and a potential increase of patients.
2. Protections for those at risk — the county will need to be able to ensure protection for those who are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, homeless and those with underlying health conditions.
3. Increased capability to test, isolate and trace the virus — the county will need to ensure medical facilities have the capacity to test, isolate and quarantine individuals and the ability to prevent further spread.
4. Maintain physical distancing — the county's role to provide guidance to make this possible and to enforce compliance.
On April 10, the county extended its Safer-At-Home order through May 15. The initial order was set to expire on April 19.
County officials did not provide a timeline for when they predict these prerequisites will be met.
The county also reported 1,035 new COVID-19 cases and 52 more deaths, bringing the totals to 18,517 cases and 848 deaths. One of the previously reported deaths was out of the county's jurisdiction, according to the county's Public Health director, Dr. Barbara Ferrer.
Of the newly reported deaths, 43 were individuals over the age of 65, 34 of which had underlying health conditions. Seven individuals who died with underlying health conditions were between the ages of 41 and 65. One individual with underlying health conditions who died was between the ages of 18 and 40. The data on the remaining case was not immediately available.
On Thursday, Public Health reported that the coronavirus is now the leading cause of death among L.A. County residents, with an average of 44 deaths per day.
County officials continued to encourage residents to "stay vigilant" in their social distancing practices as a heatwave has hit the southern region of the state. Ferrer reminded them that by staying home, they are in fact, saving lives.
"Don't go drive to other county's beaches," Ferrer said Wednesday, as she explained that by doing so, residents are posing a risk of exposing themselves and other residents to asymptomatic individuals, who can still unknowingly spread the deadly virus.
"They’re able to infect you, and then you’ll bring that infection back to L.A. County,” she said. “And we absolutely don’t need that.”
On Monday, Public Health and researchers at the University of Southern California released their initial findings from an antibody study, which suggests that hundreds of thousands of LA County residents may have been infected with the coronavirus by early April, far outpacing the number of officially confirmed cases.
Those residents are likely unknowingly infected with the illness and not showing any symptoms, but are still capable of spreading it to others, Ferrer said. Adding that based on the data, the county's social-distancing requirements need to remain in place.
The study's initial findings also suggest that the county's mortality rate is much lower than county officials believed since the rate of mortality has been calculated using the number of confirmed county cases, rather than the number of potentially infected individuals in the county.
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.
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On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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.
When the county extended its "safer-at-home" order, it added the requirement that all county residents 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.
This comes as more evidence is emerging that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. Recently, 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.
Public Health requests that anyone who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate for the 14-day quarantine period in order to help slow the spread.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. 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.
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Public Health has issued the following guidance during this time of increased spread:
"If you are mildly sick, stay home for at least seven days or until 72 hours after being fever free, whichever is longer. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen. Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or pregnant should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick."
Click here for a list of locations of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County.
FOX 11's Kelli Johnson contributed to this report.