Widespread community transmission of coronavirus is keeping L.A. County in restrictive reopening tier, officials say

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As California sees a decline in new coronavirus cases while much of the rest of the country sees increasing illnesses, Los Angeles County officials say the rate of community transmission continues to prevent the county from moving into a less restrictive tier for reopening.

“This virus is very present in our communities, at our worksites and in all of our beautiful public spaces,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, director of the county’s Department of Public Health, during an online news conference Monday. “Protecting yourself and others reduces transmission of COVID-19.  It does prevent people from becoming seriously ill and it saves lives.”

On Monday, the county reported 923 new coronavirus cases and one new death,  bringing totals to 289,366 cases and 6,877 deaths.

Ferrer reminded the public that the COVID-19 data released on Mondays are often lower “as a result of a lag in reporting over the weekend.”

State and local officials have been closely watching the latest figures as they weigh when and how to reopen businesses and public facilities. 

L.A. County officials over the past several weeks have allowed some sectors to reopen for indoor settings at reduced capacity. 

However, the county remains in the state’s most restrictive tier for reopening — Tier 1, or purple — because it continues to report more than 7 cases per 100,000 residents each day. That means that schools are shuttered, and many nonessential businesses remain closed for indoor operations.

“The big effort for us at this point has to be to get community transmission rates down so that we get to Tier 2,” Ferrer said. “That means a concerted effort over the next upcoming couple of weeks, to reduce our rate of community transmission. That’s going to take all of us — workplaces making sure they’re being super diligent, and every single person and the personal choices you make every day.”

While health officials have seen improvements at workplaces to stop the spread of the virus, Ferrer said she thinks more efforts can be made with regard to gatherings.

“I think where we’re still struggling is around gatherings,” Ferrer said. “I think there’s still people who don’t feel like they need to take precautions for themselves. I think there are people who still don’t understand most of the precautions you’re taking are for other people, and for the sake of other people. I also think there’s a false sense of security we have when we’re with people we know.”

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