Once again this week, the COVID-19 news is largely quite positive. First, case rates have remained low in most areas, including most of our local neighborhoods:
At the same time, however, there has been a pretty consistent uptick in the number of new cases reported this week, which have actually increased from a low of 366 cases last Monday to a high of 813 new cases on Saturday, April 10. More positively, though, hospitalizations have continued to decline just as consistently.
And based on the falling hospitalizations, LA County officially moved last week from the Red into the Orange tier for reopenings, which now allows the following:
And the even bigger news is that California Governor Gavin Newsom announced that if hospitalizations continue to decline, the state will fully re-open, with no tiered limits on any kind of activity, on June 15 (though “common sense” measures such as masks, social distancing, testing, and vaccinations would still be strongly encouraged).
The other good news, which should help to bolster the decline in hospitalizations, is that vaccinations continue to roll out widely now, with large numbers of doses arriving, and reservations at city vaccination sites now officially open to all ages 16 and up (though the Pfizer vaccine is currently the only one approved for 16 and 17-year-olds).
At the moment, according to LA County, nearly five million doses have been delivered, with 1.7 million residents having received their second shots of Pfizer and/or Moderna vaccines.
And there is now enough data available to also track the vaccination percentages in our local Buzz neighborhoods (yay Brookside!):
Of course, recipients are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the single-dose Johnson & Johnson or second dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. And even fully vaccinated people should still wear masks and maintain recommended distancing in public.
Last but not least today, LAUSD is also moving ahead with its graduated re-opening rollout, starting this week. According to LAUSD Superintendent Austin Beutner, in his weekly address this morning, “Sixty-one elementary schools and 11 early education centers will be opening their doors to students tomorrow. The remaining elementary schools and early education centers will open the week of April 19th, and middle and high schools the week of April 26th.”
According to Beutner, the re-openings of each school will be staggered over several days. “For example,” he said, “some elementary schools will see a quick check-in online for students with their teachers to start the day today. Students will work independently for the remainder of the day while all school staff – principals, teachers, bus drivers, librarians, counselors, custodians, cafeteria workers and many others – carefully review safety protocols and fine-tune schedules. Kindergarten and first-grade students will return to school on the 13th, Grades 2 and 3 on the 14th and 4th- and 5th graders on the 15th. We’ll start with the youngest learners because for many of them they’ll be visiting school for the first time. This will help them get familiar with their routines.”
Beutner did note that all returning students are required to have a COVID test within the week prior to coming back to school. This can be done at LAUSD’s own testing centers, which will be open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., through April 25th.
And District-provided vaccination centers are ramping up, too, with two school-based vaccination sites now open, 25 more opening soon, and even more in the planning stages.
Finally, Beutner announced that because local campuses are re-opening, the district will be phasing out its “Grab & Go” food centers, which have been distributing free meals to LAUSD students and families throughout the pandemic. Starting this week, Beutner said, students who return to campus for classes will be provided with “multiple meals” at their own schools, and families who elect to remain with remote instruction for the rest of the school year will also be able to pick up meals at their own schools instead of at the “Grab & Go” sites, which will be retired by Friday.