The number of coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County topped 64,000 Monday and another 10 deaths were reported, while county officials said they are reviewing new state guidelines that could allow a wider array of businesses to reopen by week's end.
The county Department of Public Health announced 10 deaths, but one of those was announced Sunday by Pasadena health officials. Long Beach on Monday afternoon announced one additional fatality.
The new fatalities lifted the countywide death toll from COVID-19 to 2,655. The county Department of Public Health also announced another 823 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, while Long Beach announced another 46 and Pasadena added nine, lifting the county's total to 64,699.
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The numbers of deaths and newly confirmed cases released by the county tend to be lower on Mondays and Tuesdays due to a lag in reporting over the weekend. Cases and deaths have continued to steadily rise in the county, but health officials have said that key indicators, such as hospitalization rates, have remained steady or declined, providing the confidence behind recent restricted re-openings of businesses such as dine-in restaurants and hail salons.
County officials said they are now in the process of reviewing guidelines released by the state on Friday providing protocols for reopening of more businesses, including bars, day camps, schools and child care facilities and film/TV production companies. The state protocols allow for the reopening of such businesses as early as this Friday, pursuant to approval from individual counties.
"The county is actively reviewing the guidelines from the state to determine how these organizations can reopen with necessary safeguards and with the precautions in place," County Supervisor Kathryn Barger said. "An announcement will be made prior to Friday regarding which sectors can reopen with their final protocols.
"This is another important milestone for the county as we continue our path toward recovery and transition from safer at home to safer at work and safer in our communities," she said.
County elected and health officials have expressed repeated concerns over the possibility that recent mass protests against police brutality may result in a spike in new infections, potentially putting more pressure on area hospitals.
Barger said the county is continuing to monitor health data and it will play a crucial role in deciding whether to authorize more parts of the economy to reopen.
"Make no mistake, we are doing this in a very deliberate and cautious way and actually have been one step behind the surrounding counties for that reason, because of the size, 10 million people, we recognize that there are a lot of other issues that come into place,'' she said. "But we also recognize that the longer we stay closed knowing that we actually can do it (reopen) in a responsible way with social distancing and requiring people to wear cloth face coverings, that we need to get back to work and get the economy back working. And we can do both. It's not either-or."
But she again warned that if people are failing to take precautions when out in public -- be it a protest or going to the beach -- it could have consequences down the line.
"One of the questions asked to me (is) 'Why are protesters allowed to go out and defy public health orders but businesses don't get that same break?'" she said. "The reality is that this is our new norm right now. So I hope that people who are out protesting are practicing social distancing and wearing face cloths, because I don't want to have to revisit in three weeks businesses on the cusp of opening that know if they do not open they will not ever open again."