Los Angeles County economic leaders are pushing to reopen malls and restaurants by July 4. But health officials say reaching that target will require continued distancing efforts from all Angelenos.
The county’s economic recovery task force landed on the Independence Day goal for broader reopening at a Tuesday morning meeting, Supervisor Hilda Solis said in the county’s afternoon public health briefing. But, she added, the county will continue to move forward cautiously.
“That’s a goal, but we have to get there,” Solis said. “And we have to do it by measurement. We have to do it with scientific evidence and data, and making sure that everybody’s adhering to the public health order.”
Solis said she has “a great deal of concerns” that people aren’t continuing to take health guidelines seriously.
County public health director Barbara Ferrer said she understands the public’s fatigue with the ongoing closures, and that it’s helpful to have a target date in mind. But everyone must adhere to social distancing if we want to reach it.
“I think we all had really felt like once we started to reopen, everything was going to be good, and we were going to be able to move on pretty quickly,” Ferrer said. “We are going to really aim together to get there as quickly as possible, but we’re going to pay attention to the data and we’re going to pay attention to the science.”
Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who cofounded the task force with Solis, first announced the target date. She said officials hope retail shops can open their doors to customers by then, rather than just offering delivery and pickup orders.
“The economic and sociological impacts created by the COVID-19 shutdown have hurt our vulnerable populations the most,” Barger said in a statement.
No further details were given on what it may look like when restaurants and malls reopen.
L.A. County remains the epicenter of California’s outbreak. But reopening is underway, with active-use access restored to parks and beaches and some stores allowed to open for pickup and delivery orders.
On Tuesday, county health officials reported 76 more virus-related deaths and 1,183 new cases, for a total of nearly 39,600 confirmed cases resulting in 1,913 fatalities. The county figures still account for about half of all known cases and deaths statewide.
Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday eased some of the requirements for counties to reopen, but L.A. County still expects to be among the last in rolling back restrictions due to its dense population and large outbreak. In other areas, Newsom said higher-risk settings like churches and hair salons could reopen in weeks.
“It would be great if we could all reopen at the same time,” Ferrer said last Monday. “But literally half the cases and half the deaths (in California) are here in L.A. County right now.”
Among the first venues to see restrictions lifted were outdoor recreational areas like golf courses and trails, which reopened over Mother’s Day weekend. On May 8, the county allowed retail stores to offer curbside service.
Face coverings are now required for anyone within 6 feet of someone from outside their own household. Officials stress that keeping up social distancing on crowded trails, beaches and in grocery stores will be essential in keeping the county on a trajectory toward reopening.
A new health order that was issued last week has no end date and will continue to be modified over time, according to Ferrer.