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Dining In Restaurants Can Resume In LA County; Coronavirus Death Rate In Poorer Communities Is 'Alarming And Growing'

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Dining inside restaurants can resume and barbershops and hair salons can begin to reopen, now that Gov. Gavin Newsom has approved a variance submitted by Los Angeles County, officials announced today.

Restaurants can reopen for in-person, indoor dining "as soon as [they] can adhere to the protocols," county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a media briefing.

Health officials will not be inspecting restaurants as a requirement to reopen, she added, saying businesses are on "the honor system" to follow the new standards.

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Those standards will be released later today, according to Supervisor Kathryn Barger, and will include "best practices for spacing between patrons, using barriers, optimizing capacity and other recommendations that ensure restaurants can open safely and quickly."

County officials say it’s too soon to tell if the relaxed public health restrictions are leading to an increased transmission rate, but health officials will continue to monitor the case trends as more businesses get the greenlight to reopen.

If it feels like the recovery process is moving a lot faster all of a sudden, that's because it is. Just last week, Barger had proposed July 4 as the target date to fully or partially reopen retail, restaurants, and malls in the county.

Back then, Ferrer had noted that county leaders and residents "have do a lot of things right so that we can actually get to that date... and we're still going to need to pay a lot of attention to what the data's telling us."

BY THE NUMBERS

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L.A. County officials reported 1,824 new confirmed cases of coronavirus today, bringing the total to at least 51,562 cases countywide. In total, 1,741 cases have been reported in Long Beach and 911 in Pasadena (those two cities operate their own health departments).

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also reported 50 new deaths of COVID-19 patients. To date, an estimated 2,290 people have died countywide.

So far, 93% of those who have died had underlying health conditions, Ferrer said.

The death toll at institutional facilities in L.A. County continues to climb and now accounts for more than half of all deaths countywide. Ferrer reported that 1,222 people living at those facilities have died. Of those victims, 89% were nursing home residents.

“While we've seen a continued decrease in deaths over the last two weeks at the skilled nursing facilities, we do know we have significant work ahead,” Ferrer said.

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'ALARMING AND GROWING' DEATH RATE IN POORER COMMUNITIES

Ferrer also gave updates on the disporportional death rates being documented among minority groups and in the county's poorest communities.

She provided a racial breakdown of the confirmed deaths, based on information for 2,112 of the victims. The data was presented by rates per 100,000 residents in each ethnic group. Those numbers “help reveal which groups are disproportionately affected,” Ferrer said. According to that analysis, the number of deaths for every 100,000 people in the given group are:

  • 108 - Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • 28 - African American
  • 25 - Latino/Latina
  • 18 - Asian
  • 14 - White
Ferrer also reported that the death rate in poor L.A. County communities is "alarming and growing." She said:
“People who live in areas with high rates of poverty have almost four times the rate of deaths from COVID-19 — 46 per 100,000 people, compared with communities with very low poverty levels where the death rate is 12 deaths per 100,000 people ... we must address the complex issues around these inequities with our partner departments, organizations and communities.”

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