LA County Supervisor Sets Goal for 'Safe Reopening of LA County as Early as July 4'


On Wednesday LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger discussed the LA County Economic Resiliency Task Force meeting where leaders from different sectors of the County were brought together to set a July 4 reopening of the county.

She said the reopening must be done "safely" and "public health guidance has to be at the front of what we do to ensure the safety and well being of our residents."

"The July 4th date was directly in response to the resiliency task force timeline that was provided which showed they would have all the reports back by June 30," Barger said. 

The task force eaders from the sectors will be submitting reports detailing how they can restart their industries and organizations while ensuring the safety of employees and customers

"Within this context, the goal and hope is to implement the full or staged reopening of retail, restaurants and recreation by July 4," she said.

The Dept of Public Health will be part of the process, according to Barger. "My goal is to do it with a public urgency but recognizing that public health comes first," she said.

LA County's sets a July 4 reopening goal on the same day public health officials announce one of the highest one-day death tolls since the coronavirus crisis began. On Tuesday there were more than six dozen new virus-related deaths. It's the highest daily total in a month. There were about 1,200 more COVID-19 cases are being reported, pushing the total toward 40,000.

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger on Tuesday expressed a goal for "safe reopening of Los Angeles County as early as July 4."

Supervisor @kathrynbarger sets goal for "safe reopening of Los Angeles County as early as July 4." @KNX1070

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) May 19, 2020

She expressed that goal during the meeting of the  Los Angeles County Economic Resiliency Task Force Tuesday, which is collaborating with key leaders to discuss the business and cultural interests of the County.

The July 4 date indicates a goal of the full or staged reopening of retail, restaurants, and malls.

“I understand the urgency to reopen and know many of the experts the County has assembled for this Task Force have been working hard to develop safe and efficient plans to revitalize their sectors as early as next month,” Supervisor Barger said on her website. “I remain focused on working with industry leaders and health officials to safely make way for Los Angeles County to reopen by the Fourth of July.”

"We are having those discussions now. We had a Resiliency Task Force meeting earlier today and there was a lot of discussion of how we have to proceed," said Supervisor Hilda Solis Tuesday during the public health briefing.

KNX reporter Claudia Peschiutta asked Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, whether Barger sought her advice before making the announcement Tuesday:

During the public health briefing, Dr. Barbara Ferrer said,  "we are all aiming for a date where our businesses are going to open safely."

"It's always helpful to have a target date in mind and it's much more reassuring to hear that July 4 date. I think Supervisor Kathryn Barger, as well as Supervisor Solis, were clear we are aiming for that date we have to do a lot of things right so that we can actually get to that date of July 4 and have a lot of different sectors reopened," Ferrer said.

Barger has not responded to our requests for comment.

"We have to do a lot right so that we can actually get to that date of Jul 4," Ferrer said. 

Public health officials have been reporting slight decreases in hospitalizations. With more asymptomatic testing, the rate of people testing positive has dropped to 9%. They've also noted we can expect to see an increase in cases now that the county is easing some restrictions and more people are out and about.

And it could take several weeks to see the real impacts of that.

"Our aspiration is yes, we would like to open up sooner than later. July? Yes, possibly," Supervisor Hilda Solis told KNX reporter Claudia Peschiutta. "That's a goal but we have to get there and we have to do it by measurement, we have to do it with scientific evidence and data and we have to make sure everyone is adhering to the public health order. And I  can tell you, as one supervisor,  I have a great deal of concern that some people are not listening to that message."

Barger says - in a statement - the COVID-19 shutdown has hurt "vulnerable populations the most." Public health officials note low-income residents and other vulnerable groups are among those hardest hit by the virus.

Today, the Economic Resiliency Task Force met for our second meeting and I set a goal to reopen L.A. County by July 4. Read more about our collaboration with sector leaders to revitalize businesses and get employees back to work:

— Supervisor Kathryn Barger (@kathrynbarger) May 19, 2020

In early May, LA County's new revised Stay at Home orders will be in place until further notice.

"The County Health orders will not have an expiration date because COVID-19 does not have an expiration date at this time," Supervisor Hilda Solis said Thursday afternoon.

She said bars, entertainment venues, fitness centers, personal grooming places will not be open at this time.

On Wednesday the LA County Department of Public Health unveiled a new Safer at Home Order which said "This Order is effective immediately and will continue until further notice."

The order also said "This Order is a limited and measured step to partially move the County of Los Angeles into Phase 2 of its Roadmap to Recovery: A Phased Approach to Reopening Safely in LA County while keeping a low incidence of person-to-person contact and ensuring continued Social Physical Distancing and adherence to other infection control protocols."


"This health officer order does not have an end date. It will go on and be modified over time, as appropriate," Ferrer said Wednesday.

"This health officer order does not have an end date. It will go on and be modified over time, as appropriate," says @lapublichealth's Barbara Ferrer. @KNX1070

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) May 13, 2020

First reported in the LA Times, Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said the orders will “with all certainty” be extended for the next three months at a LA County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning.

On Wednesday during the LA County Public Health briefing, Ferrer apologized for "the confusion I inadvertently created yesterday when I indicated that we would need to continue with the health officer orders through the next few months."

"I had no intention of messaging that we weren't changing our orders to reflect our recovery journey since we are. And this is what we started doing last week when we reopened some limited retail stores, our golf courses and our car dealerships," Ferrer said.

However, LA County has eased restrictions for some retail, some low-risk businesses, golf courses, trails and beaches in recent weeks.  On Wednesday, LA County beaches reopened but with strict guidelines and physical distancing in place. It's also been the first weekend back since the county reopened some retail for curbside pick-up only, as well as trails and golf courses.

On Tuesday afternoon LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger offered a clarification to comments made by Ferrer earlier in the day during a Board of Supervisors meeting.

In a tweet she said "Relaxing the restrictions in the "Safer at Home" order is an important focus of the County, which will be done gradually over the next few months."

“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,” Barger said in the tweet."I’m confident that the more our communities continue to comply, the sooner we can resume normalcy.”

A statement made during today's Board of Supervisor's meeting concerning Safer at Home orders was taken out of context. Here's a clarification:

— Supervisor Kathryn Barger (@kathrynbarger) May 12, 2020

Meanwhile, Ferrer offered this statement in a press release Tuesday: "L.A. County is continuing its progress on the road to recovery, with planned reopening of beaches for active recreation and an expansion of permitted retail activities coming tomorrow. While the Safer at Home orders will remain in place over the next few months, restrictions will be gradually relaxed under our 5-stage Roadmap to Recovery, while making sure we are keeping our communities as safe as possible during this pandemic. 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. 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.”

“While the Safer at Home orders will remain in place over the next few months, restrictions will be gradually relaxed.” - Barbara Ferrer, LA County’s public health director @KNX1070

— Claudia Peschiutta (@ReporterClaudia) May 13, 2020

In a press release from the LA County Public Health Department Tuesday mid-morning, it said "Additional restrictions may be lifted later this week to allow for reopening additional retailers for curbside pickup, select manufacturers, and additional recreational facilities. Until the final stage five is reached, Health Officer Orders and directives will continue to ensure the slow of spread of COVID-19 to prevent an overwhelming surge of COVID-19 cases at healthcare facilities."