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County officials cite progress after one year of pandemic

Infection rate continues to decline

City News Service | 3/19/2021, midnight
On the one-year anniversary of the county’s first public health order..

On the one-year anniversary of the county’s first public health order closing restaurants and banning public gatherings due to the then-burgeoning COVID-19 threat, Los Angeles County continued its progress this week in beating back the pandemic, with the daily rate of new infections sliding lower again.

According to figures released by the state at mid-week, the county’s adjusted daily rate of new COVID-19 cases is 4.1 per 100,000 residents, down from 5.2 per 100,000 last week.

The county on Monday officially entered the red tier of the state’s four-level Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which governs business restrictions during the pandemic. County rankings in the blueprint are based on the rates of daily new cases and the rate of people testing positive for the virus. Los Angeles County’s seven-day average of positive tests is now at 2 percent, according to the state.

The county entered the red tier -- which allowed the resumption of indoor dining and the reopening of movie theaters and indoor fitness centers, all at limited capacity—thanks to the daily case rate averaging less than 10 per 100,000 residents for two weeks.

With the rate now falling to 4.1 per 100,000 residents, the county finds itself in striking distance of possibly advancing to the next tier, orange. To enter that tier, a county must have a daily case rate of 3.9 per 100,000 residents or better for two consecutive weeks. Reaching the orange tier would allow the county to lift all capacity limits at retail stores and shopping malls, while raising the allowable capacity at other locations, such as museums, movie theaters, aquariums, churches, fitness centers and restaurants. The orange tier would also authorize a reopening of bars for outdoor service and limited indoor service at wineries and breweries.

The improving numbers came in the week Los Angeles County marked the anniversary of its first public health order issued in response to the virus. The order prohibited public gatherings and shuttered businesses that involved close interactions of people, including restaurants and bars. Three days later, the county issued its formal “Safer At Home’’ order requiring people to remain at home unless they were working at an essential business or were obtaining essential service.

“It was a time of great anxiety for our county,’’ County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “Grocery stores experienced long lines for residents, but eventually the streets cleared and people stayed home, concerned about when they’d see their loved ones next. In so many ways, this moment in time feels just like yesterday.’’