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.
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."
"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."
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."