COVID-19 News Still Good – Restaurants and Schools Might Begin Re-Opening Soon

Local COVID-19 case counts, showing much slower rates of increase in the 36-day gap between February 1 and March 9 than in the 34-day surge period between December 28 and February 1. (Click to see larger version of graphic.)*

 

For the last few weeks, COVID-19 cases, infection rates, and hospitalizations have continued a strong downward trend, while vaccinations are rising quickly, prompting LA County Director of Public Health Barbara Ferrer to announce yesterday that “We are at a point in the pandemic where we have a great deal of optimism. We are making progress on vaccinating our residents, cases, hospitalizations and deaths are decreasing, and we are likely moving into a less restrictive tier.”

With vaccines reaching more and more people, and only 880 new cases reported yesterday, it is expected that LA will move from the Purple (widespead) transmission tier to the Red (substantial) tier within the next few days.  According to local news reports, moving to the red tier will allow many more businesses to re-open with certain restrictions, including:

  • Indoor dining at restaurants, up to 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever is less)
  • Movie theaters, indoor places of worship, indoor areas at museums, zoos, and aquariums at 25% capacity
  • Retail stores, libraries, shopping centers, and swap meets at 50% capacity
  • Indoor gyms, fitness centers, climbing walls at 10% capacity

Indoor gatherings of people from up to three separate households would also be allowed…though bars and amusement parks would still remain closed, and personal care services (e.g. hair and nail salons) will still be limited to current capacities.

The other hopeful news on the horizon this week is that the falling numbers may also allow the re-opening of local schools soon.  While LAUSD and members of the UTLA teachers’ union have remained firm in their position that full-time classroom instruction cannot resume until infection rates have fallen to less than 7 per 100,000 people, vaccines are available to all school staff, and safety measures have been implemented at schools throughout the district, LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner noted in his weekly address on Monday that LAUSD school facilities are now ready, infection rates are nearing the target range, and teacher and staff immunizations are also rolling out, with six new school-based immunization sites now available, and a mega-site for educators and school personnel at So-Fi stadium.

 

 

Beutner said preschools and elementary schools may be able to open as early as mid-April, while middle and high school students may be able to return to the classroom by the end of April.

 

So the news this week is definitely optimistic…but continued progress also depends very much on strict adherence to recommended guidelines, including continuing to avoid large gatherings, and wearing masks when in contact with people outside your own household.

As Ferrar said in her address, “In order for us to maintain progress, we will need to continue making slowing transmission a central part of our day-to-day lives. That means choosing not to travel and choosing not to gather with large numbers of people we do not live with. It also means wearing a mask and keeping distance whenever we are outside of our home and around others. Let’s please keep this positive momentum going so all of our children can return to school as safely as possible and we can continue to prevent illness and save lives.”

 

*Note: Data for the case count chart in the header above comes from the LA County COVID-19 Dashboard. In addition to numbers from areas closest to our Larchmont Buzz readership area, the Dashboard also includes data for other LA County neighborhoods, as well as neighborhood maps and boundaries as defined by the County (NOT our local neighborhoods’ self-definitions). To find your own neighborhood’s boundaries, as defined by LA County, or to see data from other LA neighborhoods, see the link above. * Country Club Park, as defined by LA County, also includes most of Fremont Place, Windsor Village and Wilshire Park. ** LA County’s boundaries for Hancock Park also include most of Windsor Square, except the area bounded by Wilshire Blvd., S. Wilton Pl., W. Third St. and S. Western Ave., which is part of Wilshire Center. *** The Melrose community, as defined by LA County, is bounded roughly, with some deviations, by Beverly Blvd., Normandie Ave., Santa Monica Blvd., and La Cienega Blvd. (so this also includes much of what we know as the Larchmont and South Hollywood residential areas.)

 

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About Elizabeth Fuller

Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and is the co-owner/publisher of the Buzz.

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