The coronavirus outbreak in Los Angeles appears to be stabilizing, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday as the city took its first steps toward reopening the economy.
Some businesses reopened for the first time Friday since stay-home orders were issued, and city hiking trails and golf courses will open back up Saturday, except Runyon Canyon.
But even as it begins lifting restrictions, L.A. County remains the epicenter of California’s outbreak, accounting for nearly half of all reported coronavirus cases and fatalities. As of Friday, there were nearly 30,300 confirmed COVID-19 cases countywide, resulting in 1,468 deaths.
But it appears the region’s curve may be beginning a downward trend, Garcetti said during his evening news briefing Friday.
Last week, 7,300 new infections were reported countywide. That number fell to around 6,100 this week, even as testing continued to expand, he said.
The virus also claimed fewer lives this week compared to last.
“We added 296 total deaths for this week, compared to 324 the week before,” Garcetti said. “But I can’t call that good news when 296 people die.”
In the city of L.A., 310 new cases were reported this Friday, compared to 690 the Friday before. There are now a total of 14,563 confirmed cases in the city, the mayor said.
Hospitalizations are stabilizing as well, according to Garcetti.
“This is something all the people of L.A. are doing together,” he said, referring to successful social isolation. “It is paying off, my friend.”
Only certain types of shops were allowed to open Friday, and they are only offering curbside pickup for phone or online orders — customers still can’t go inside. Stores that can open include those that sell flowers, toys, music, books, clothing and sporting goods, as well as car dealership showrooms.
On Saturday, city hiking trails, trailhead parks and golf courses will reopen, with the exception of Runyon Canyon. New rules will be in place requiring facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between all visitors.
The city’s revised order mirrors guidelines that will be enacted simultaneously across all of L.A. County.
Beaches remain closed, but county officials said they could reopen with restrictions as early as next Wednesday. Experts will be monitoring this weekend’s openings to determine how to proceed.
And, Garcetti has warned, things that have opened could be closed again if coronavirus cases begin to spike.
Behind closed doors, people should still stay within their own household. When people do begin gathering in private, they’ll likely have to do with the same, relatively small group of contacts each time, Garcetti said Thursday.
As the city continues to look toward reopening more businesses, it’s organized working groups to advise the process across key industries, starting with manufacturing, retail, film and TV production, higher education and cultural institutions, the mayor said.
Representatives from the hotel, sports and live music industries are expected to join the conversation soon, Garcetti said.
But the mayor said he can’t provide a specific timeline for further business reopenings; it will depend on meeting public health benchmarks and how well the public can adhere to continued distancing.
“When we get both of those right — the rules of the road, and the adherence to them — the answer moves closer to, ‘Yes, it can open,’” he said.