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California health officials are beginning to mull what the next phase of reopening may look like, offering a glimmer of hope for places like Los Angeles County.

For more than a month, the bulk of the state’s 58 counties have been on a watchlist of municipalities with worrisome COVID-19 statistics. Health officials weigh key metrics to gauge the virus’ spread in the community and the county’s ability to respond to it. Counties that don’t meet the state’s criteria are restricted from fulling opening all parts of the economy.

There are six key benchmarks that must be met before a county can be removed from the list, and Los Angeles County has hit five of them: the average daily number of infections; hospitalizations and deaths are all declining; the county is testing more than 150 people per 100,000 residents daily; and it has enough intensive care beds and ventilators to conceivably handle a sharp rise in patients.

But L.A. County is far removed from the required 14-day average of fewer than 100 infections per 100,000 residents. As of Tuesday, the county’s rate was 239.2 positive cases per 100,000 people. Still, the average is a marked improvement from last week’s 335 per capita.

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