Los Angeles County has a set a new date for “safe reopening” of all businesses and the economy: July 4.
The date was revealed Tuesday in a press release issued by Board of Supervisors chair Kathryn Barger following the second meeting of the Los Angeles County Economic Resiliency Task Force, a group comprised of the Board of Supervisors and leaders from different industries throughout the county.
By July 4, there could be “full or staged” reopening of all businesses such as retail, restaurants and malls, areas of the economy that have been hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is unclear where movie theaters fall in reopening.
As part of Tuesday’s meeting, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. president Bill Allen said that the county has seen 1 million unemployment claims filed and that 75 percent of projected job losses are from individuals who make less than $50,000 per year in areas such as restaurants and retail companies.
“The economic and sociological impacts created by the COVID-19 shutdown have hurt our vulnerable populations the most,” Barger said. “The County, in partnership with our Task Force members and key stakeholders, is prepared to move forward with recommendations that ensure the safety and well-being of employees and customers while safeguarding public health.”
Shortly after Barger issued her statement, leaders including L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer and L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis gathered for the county’s daily coronavirus press briefing. Understandably, the July 4 target date proved to be the dominant discussion point. Ferrer confirmed that “we’re all aiming for that date” but in order to get there safely, “we have to do a lot of things right.” She said an ultimate decision would be made based on “the data,” something she’s leaned on for weeks in reference to the latest case counts, death rates, hospital availability and testing/tracing efforts.
“It’s always helpful for us to have a target date in mind,” Ferrer said. “If we all do our part, that’s certainly a goal we can reach.”
News of a potential July 4 reopening came on the same day that Ferrer reported an additional COVID-19-related 76 deaths for a total of 1,913 in the county to date. She also reported 1,183 newly diagnosed positive cases for a countywide total of 39,573 thus far. Regarding the high number of new cases, Ferrer once again reminded the media that officials “typically see an increase on Tuesday and Wednesday” as they are catching up on a backlog from the weekend, a period when many labs are closed and do not report results. As of Tuesday, reportedly 1,549 people are in the hospital with COVID-19 illness.
L.A. County is currently in phase two of its reopening plan, a staged effort that now allows for “low-risk” retail and manufacturing to be open for business for curbside or door-front pickup and delivery. The state of California — as allowed by Gov. Gavin Newsom — is in a much more advanced recovery plan as many of its counties meet criteria for more widespread reopenings. However, L.A. County, the state’s most populated area, has long been the epicenter of the epidemic, recording close to half the deaths and positive cases in California. Movie theaters, gyms, barbershops and hair and nail salons are all part of phase three and, theoretically, could all be open by July 4 under this new goal.
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Written By: Tommy Lightfoot Garrett
Photographs are Courtesy: AP
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