LOS ANGELES County is easing more restrictions ahead of the long weekend, despite reaching over 2,000 coronavirus deaths earlier this week.
The county Department of Public Health confirmed 35 new deaths and 1,072 additional cases of COVID-19 on Friday, May 22, bringing the totals to 2,049 deaths and 43,052 positive cases.
Of the latest deaths, 25 individuals were over the age of 65 and five were between 41 to 65 years old. Meanwhile, 23 had underlying health conditions including 20 people over the age of 65 years old and three people between 41 to 65 years old.
The day before, the county passed the 2,000 threshold for total fatalities.
“This is a very sad milestone for us,” county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Thursday.
To date, 17% of deaths in the county are of Asian descent, with the rate at 16 per 100,000 individuals.
The county continues to be the epicenter of the virus outbreak in California, comprising nearly half of the state’s positive cases.
As the county reopened beaches last week to permit recreational activities, the new health orders for the upcoming weekend include the opening of beach parking lots and bike paths. Beachgoers must wear face coverings while not in the water if others are nearby.
However, activities on the sand, such as sunbathing, gathering in groups and grilling remain prohibited.
Indoor malls can begin offering curbside service, while car parades can be organized to safely celebrate graduations, birthdays and other special occasions.
“As more businesses and public spaces are open, as individuals and institutions, we do need to take care of each other by continuing to practice physical distancing, wearing our cloth-faced coverings and following all of the directives for creating as much safety as possible,” Ferrer said.
White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Friday expressed over the continuous coronavirus spread in areas like LA despite the decline in most parts of the country and as states begin reopening.
“Even though Washington has remained closed, LA has remained closed, Chicago has remained closed, we still see these ongoing cases,” she said during Friday’s daily press briefing as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
She called on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look at those areas “to really understand where are these new cases coming from, and what do we need to do to prevent them in the future.”
The Washington, D.C. metro region has the highest COVID-19 positivity rate among cities in the country, Birx said. The area is followed by Baltimore, Chicago and Minneapolis.
Despite Birx’s remarks, Ferrer said the region has seen a 15% decrease in hospitalizations and a 12% decline in deaths.
“Our overall data points are looking pretty good,” she said.
Though there is no end date for the county’s stay-at-home orders as of press time, officials previously announced that they are eyeing July 4 for the full reopening of retail and restaurant businesses.