Los Angeles County reported 971 new cases of COVID-19 and three additional deaths Sunday, bringing the county's totals to 282,135 cases and 6,771 fatalities.
The number of new cases snapped a four-day streak in which the county had reported more than 1,200 new coronavirus cases, potentially jeopardizing efforts to reopen more sectors of the local economy. The effect of Sunday's numbers were unclear, since figures are typically lower on weekends due to reporting lags.
Hospitalizations due to the virus increased from 701 Saturday to 715, with 26% of those people in intensive care, according to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health.
Los Angeles County is still in the strictest level of the state's four-tier economic-reopening roadmap. The county's recent testing positivity rate is low enough to qualify the county to move up to a less-restrictive tier, but the average daily number of new cases needs to drop to about 700 per day before any movement will occur.
As of Wednesday, the county's rate of new cases per 100,000 residents was averaging 7.4, slightly above the limit of 7 needed to move out of the state's restrictive "purple" tier.
Health officials said they would closely monitor the case numbers this week, and the elevated numbers of last week should be a reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.
On Tuesday, the county authorized breweries and wineries that don't have their own kitchens to reopen for outdoor service, provided they partner with a third-party food provider. All alcohol sales for on-site consumption at breweries and wineries must be accompanied by a "bona fide meal'' purchase.
On Saturday, county health officials reminded residents of the importance of restaurants, breweries and wineries showing televised sporting events to adhere to protocols and directives to help prevent spread of the virus -- an especially timely reminder given that the Lakers play Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, and the Dodgers are beginning the National League Championship Series on Monday.
Public Health protocols for those establishments include:
-- Not allowing customers to congregate in any areas or around any televisions;
-- Limiting to outdoor seating and no more than six people at a table;
-- Requiring cloth face coverings whenever customers are not eating and/or drinking, including upon arrival, when walking in and exiting the facility, and when using restrooms;
-- Ensuring six feet of physical distance between tables;
-- Ensuring employees interacting with customers are wearing a cloth face covering and a face shield.
After months of closure, indoor shopping malls were permitted to reopen Wednesday, though limited at 25% of capacity and with food courts and common areas remaining closed. That follows nail salons, which were permitted to reopen indoors last week; card rooms, which were allowed to open outdoors on Monday; and outdoor playgrounds, which were cleared to reopen at the discretion of individual cities.
The county this week also began accepting waiver applications from schools that want to offer in-person instruction for pre-kindergarten through second-grade students. Ferrer said about 26 schools have submitted waiver requests so far.