Los Angeles County reported 1,047 new COVID-19 cases and 12 more deaths on Monday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 46,018 and fatalities to 2,116.
The additional cases and deaths come during a holiday weekend that county health officials are watching closely as a test of whether they can keep the virus in check while slowly easing restrictions.
“On this Memorial Day, as we join with those mourning the loss of their loved ones to COVID-19, including the families of the 1,100 veterans who recently passed away from COVID-19, we want to honor the memory of all the members of the armed forces who courageously gave of themselves to protect our country,” L.A. County Department of Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “We take to heart the lessons of courage and caring that mark this day of remembrance.”
In recent days, L.A. County beach bike paths and parking lots have reopened, and stores at indoor malls can now operate with curbside service. But ocean piers remain closed, dining at restaurants is still prohibited, and gatherings of any size outside of the household unit are banned.
Statewide, California has reported 95,372 COVID-19 cases and 3,760 deaths, though the true number of people infected is unknown and likely much higher than official figures.
California’s stay-at-home orders are credited with slowing the spread of the virus, but state and county officials have been under pressure to loosen those orders to reduce damage to the economy and upheaval in people’s lives.
Though L.A. County remains the epicenter of the outbreak in California, there are some encouraging signs. The county’s three-day average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has declined 15%, while its seven-day average of deaths per day is down 3%, according to the latest figures from the Public Health Department’s dashboard of reopening metrics.
“As we prepare to reopen many places and spaces that are still closed, it will require an extraordinary effort by all of us to prevent outbreaks among workers and residents,” Ferrer said in a statement Monday. “Please take care of each other by wearing a face covering, keeping your distance when around others not in your household, avoiding crowds, washing your hands often and isolating when you are positive for COVID-19 or a close contact of someone who is positive. Let us move forward with the awareness that our actions save lives.”
In statewide guidelines released Monday, the California Department of Public Health announced that all counties can reopen in-store retail shopping under previously issued guidelines that include physical distancing, use of face coverings by employees and customers and frequent hand-washing.
The reopening of in-store shopping is subject to approval by county public health departments, according to the state. Retail does not include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops.
In a separate guidance issued Monday, California officials said that churches, mosques, temples and other houses of worship must limit their attendance to 25% of a building’s capacity and take other precautions if they are to resume in-person services.