With more businesses and recreational amenities reopening across the area, county health officials Friday again urged residents and business owners to adhere to health protocols to avoid transmission of COVID-19.
And while not mentioning President Donald Trump by name, county public health director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement that coronavirus cases among “our national leaders” should serve as a warning that the virus is still being actively transmitted.
“Recent cases and concerns about transmission of the virus among our national leaders and their staff members are a reminder to everyone about how important it is to use the tools we have to slow the spread of COVID-19,” Ferrer said. “Wearing a cloth face covering and keeping physical distance when around people you do not live with is a very important action everyone needs to take to protect themselves and other people from transmission.”
Her comments came on the heels of nail salons being permitted to reopen indoors as of Thursday, and outdoor card rooms set to open Monday. Indoor shopping malls will reopen Wednesday. The nail salons and indoor shopping malls will be limited to 25% of capacity, and mall food courts must remain closed.
Outdoor playgrounds can reopen at the discretion of individual cities, but everyone over age 2 must wear a face covering and adult supervision is required.
Health officials said they are still working with county attorneys to finalize plans for the resumption of outdoor beverage service — with food sold by third-party providers — at breweries and wineries. That process is expected to be “completed in a week,” according to the county.
Schools that want to provide in-person instruction for students in pre-kindergarten through second-grade can submit applications to the county for waivers beginning Monday. Waivers will be limited to 30 schools per week, with priority given to campuses in the generally lowest-income areas.
Schools that are granted waivers will have to limit groups of students to no more than 12, and no more than two supervising adults in each classroom. Those teacher-student groups must remain together for the entire day “for all activities,” according to the county.
Complete safety protocols for all reopening businesses will be posted on the county’s website.
The county on Friday reported another 21 coronavirus-related deaths, although three of those fatalities were announced Thursday by health officials in Long Beach. The deaths raised the countywide total to 6,626.
The county also announced another 1,324 new cases of the virus, while health officials in Pasadena added six more. The cumulative countywide number of cases since the start of the pandemic rose to 272,659.
Health officials said two more cases of multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, were also confirmed in the county, bringing the overall total to 40. The rare coronavirus-related syndrome causes inflammation of various organs. There have not been any deaths associated with MIS-C in the county.
Ferrer stressed in her statement Friday that despite the new business openings, people should continue to avoid public gatherings.
“Gatherings of any kind, even with people you know who have no symptoms, can easily result in transmission of the virus to many people, especially when people are not diligent about wearing face coverings and keeping physical distance,” she said. “Because of the virus’ long incubation period, even a person who has recently tested negative for the virus could be positive within hours of testing and have the ability to infect other people unknowingly.”
There were 730 people hospitalized in the county with the virus as of Friday, down from 746 on Thursday.