Los Angeles County will enter the orange tier on Monday, April 5. (303065)
Los Angeles County will enter the orange tier on Monday, April 5. Credit: Los Angeles County

Los Angeles County has met the threshold for the less restrictive orange tier in the State’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. A revised Los Angeles County Health Officer Order will go into effect on Monday, April 5 at 12:01 a.m. to reflect newly permitted activities.

The county’s adjusted case rate dropped from 3.7 new cases per 100,000 people to 3.1 new cases per 100,000 people. The test positivity rate dropped from 1.8 percent to 1.5 percent and in areas with the fewest health affirming resources, L.A. County’s test positivity rate dropped from 2.5 percent to 2.1 percent.

Meanwhile, assuming county case numbers do not increase, the following changes will be made to the Health Officer Order on April 5:

—Bars that do not provide meals will be allowed to open outdoors with distancing, masking and infection control safety measures. Indoor operations are not permitted. Masks are required except when people are eating or drinking. There can be no counter seating and people can eat or drink only when they are seated. Tables must be 8 feet apart, with a maximum of six people from up to three different households. There can be no live entertainment, television is permitted, and hours of operations are from 11:30 a.m. until 10 p.m.

—Breweries, wineries, distilleries that do not serve meals can remain open outdoors and can also open indoors at 25 percent capacity or 100 people, whichever is fewer. These establishments will follow the same public health directives as bars for their outdoor areas, however, there are additional requirements for indoor spaces: reservations are required for indoor seating, there is a maximum of six people per table and they must be from the same household, and there is no live entertainment or television viewing indoors.

—Restaurants can increase capacity for indoor dining to 50 percent capacity or 200 people, whichever is less with continued safety modifications.

—Cardrooms can operate indoors at 25 percent capacity. There must be 8-feet of distancing between tables and masks are always required. Food and beverages remain banned from card tables.

—Places of Worship can hold services indoors at 50 percent capacity.

—Fitness Centers can operate indoors at 25 percent capacity and indoor pools can now re-open. Masks are always required unless swimming.

—Movie Theatres can increase capacity to 50 percent or 200 people, whichever is less. Seats must be reserved, and each group must have 6 feet of distance from other groups in all directions. Eating is allowed in only designated areas or in your reserved seat.

Family Entertainment Centers can open indoors at 25 percent capacity for distanced activities, such as bowling or escape rooms. Masks remain required.

—Grocery and Retail Stores can increase capacity to 75 percent, although Public Health strongly recommends grocery stores remain at 50 percent capacity until April 15 to allow as many grocery store workers as possible to get vaccinated.

—Hair Salons, Barbershops and Personal Care Services can increase capacity to 75 percent with masks required, except for services where customers need to remove their masks. For services where customers must remove their face coverings, staff must wear a fitted N95 or a mask with a face shield.

— Museums, Zoos and Aquariums can be open indoors at 50 percent capacity.

—Youth and Adult Recreational Sports can apply to Public Health for approval for athletic events, tournaments or competitions that involve more than two teams or multiple individuals.

The daily average number of cases is now fewer than 400 daily cases, a 50 percent decrease from the number of cases at the end of February.

County officials said they are seeing progress in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, as the daily average number of hospitalizations decreased 52 percent since the end of February, and the daily average number of deaths decreased 75 percent in the past month.

“We extend our deepest condolences to the friends and families who are living through this tragedy. We are sending our love and prayers during your time of grief,” said Barbara Ferrer, PhD, MPH, MEd, Director of Public Health. “While Los Angeles County has yet to experience increases, this week will be critical, as we are now two weeks out from when we moved into the red tier and reopened several sectors. There is much to be optimistic about. Los Angeles County has administered nearly 4 million vaccine doses.

“Spring is here. The weather is beautiful,” Ferrer continued in a recent update. “However, we cannot let our guard down. Another surge here would be dangerous and stop our recovery progress. We would move swiftly to introduce measures to limit transmission and these measures would have us stepping backwards. Keep yourself, your loved ones, and essential workers safe by following all the rules when you are at a business, retail or food establishment.”

In a recently released study of about 4,000 health-care personnel, police, firefighters and other essential workers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the vaccines reduced the risk of infection, both asymptomatic and symptomatic infection by 80 percent after one dose, and that protection increased to 90 percent following the second dose.

Different from the clinical trials, which are tightly controlled, and showed that the vaccines are highly effective preventing hospitalizations and deaths, this study shows just how effective the vaccines are in preventing infections in real-life conditions. The findings of this study are significant and provide evidence that the vaccines can both reduce transmission and save lives.

Los Angeles County officials said they are continuing to make progress administering the COVID-19 vaccine. As of March 24, the County has administered close to 4 million doses of vaccine, with more than 1.2 million people receiving a second dose.

As of March 27, the County has vaccinated 71 percent of people ages 65 through 79 and 62 percent of people over the age of 80. These age groups were prioritized because of their high risk for serious illness or death from COVID-19. The County has also vaccinated 32 percent of people ages 50 through 64 who were eligible workers or individuals with serious underlying medical conditions or disabilities.

In total, there are almost 5.5 million residents 16 and older that still need to be vaccinated.

Los Angeles County expanded eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine starting April 1, for County residents 50 through 64 years old. Additionally, on April 15, vaccines will become available to any resident in Los Angeles County who is 16 and older.

Changes will be made to the MyTurn eligibility criteria to allow residents 50 through 64 years old to begin to schedule appointments. Note that, while the County received more vaccine doses this week, there are not yet enough doses to vaccinate everyone that is eligible, so patience is required until supply increases. Public Health’s priority will remain getting residents and workers in hard hit communities vaccinated. Efforts will be redoubled to increase accessibility and availability of vaccines in communities with the highest risk and lower rate of vaccinations.

For information about who is eligible for COVID-19 vaccine in L.A. County, how to make an appointment if it is your turn, what verifications you will need to show at your vaccination appointment, and much more, visit: www.VaccinateLACounty.com (English) and www.VacunateLosAngeles.com (Spanish). Vaccinations are always free and open to eligible residents and workers regardless of immigration status.

County Reopening Protocols, COVID-19 Surveillance Interactive Dashboard, Roadmap to Recovery, Recovery Dashboard, and additional actions you can take to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website, www.publichealth.lacounty.gov.