"I do think recovery will be months long, based on the tools that we have at hand today," Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said on Tuesday

By Dave Quinn
May 13, 2020 09:12 AM
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Stay-at-home orders will likely remain in place for Los Angeles County residents for most of the summer.

On Tuesday, the county’s Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned during a Board of Supervisors meeting that a "dramatic change to the virus and tools that we have at hand to actually fight" it is necessary before lockdown rules can be relaxed, saying that the order will "with all certainty" be extended for the next three months, ABC News-7 Los Angeles reported.

"I do think recovery will be months long, based on the tools that we have at hand today," Ferrer said.

Ferrer's comments came as Los Angeles County continues to see a spike in COVID-19-related cases and deaths. According to a New York Times database, Tuesday saw another 566 infections and 39 deaths. As of Wednesday morning, a total of 33,180 cases and 1,613 deaths had been recorded, making Los Angeles County Calfornia's epicenter of the coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has allowed individual counties to approve reopening plans for residents.

Los Angeles County officials had previously set May 15 as the deadline for its "safer at home" order, the region's reopening based on a five-point prerequisite plan that factors in benchmarks including the health care system's capacity to treat patients, the protections in place for those at risk, the ability to maintain physical distancing, and the availability to testing, and contact tracing, ABC News-7 Los Angeles reported.

Just on Monday, the county's Department of Beaches and Harbors tweeted that beaches would be reopening on Wednesday, though with major restrictions. Beachgoers must wear face coverings unless actively swimming, for example, and lying out or sitting on the sand with canopies or coolers is not allowed.

An expansion of permitted retail activities also goes into effect on Wednesday, officials said.

While Ferrer estimated August as a likely deadline, no official date has been set by county officials.

"We are being guided by science and data that will safely move us forward along the road to recovery in a measured way — one that allows us to ensure that effective distancing and infection control measures are in place," she later said in a statement, The Signal reported. "We’re counting on the public’s continued compliance with the orders to enable us to relax restrictions, and we are committed to making sure that L.A. County is in the best position to provide its 10 million residents with the highest level of wellness possible as we progressively get back to normal."

The Board of Supervisors also issued their own statement in response to Ferrer's comments.

"During this time, we will still move forward with our efforts to ease restrictions aligned with appropriate public health safety protocols," they said, according to The Signal. "Changes to the order will be continuously considered after reviewing the data every three to four weeks during this time."

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti weighed in too, telling Deadline in a statement: "While the City’s Safer at Home order will remain in place beyond May 15, we will also continue to adjust the order gradually — to safely allow more activities, more businesses to operate, and more Angelenos to get back to work. We’re not moving past COVID-19, we’re learning to live with it — and we will keep taking measured steps toward a new, safer reality in the days and weeks ahead."

And Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger echoed Garcetti's comments, saying in a statement obtained by The Los Angeles Times that she hopes easing to stay-at-home orders will be coming in the following weeks.

"I am eager to reopen more of L.A. County as soon as it’s safe to do so, in collaboration with our health experts, community leaders, businesses and residents, with best practices in place to ensure our overall health and well-being. These decisions will be guided by the latest science and data collected," she said. "I’m confident that the more our communities continue to comply, the sooner we can resume normalcy."

Added Gov. Newsom, the LA Times reported: "We aren't out of the woods yet."

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