Coronavirus in Los Angeles

Los Angeles County isn’t letting up on its lockdown order for citizens and business closures anytime soon.

During a daily tele-briefing, county officials said “safer at home” rules ordering people to stay inside whenever possible and the close of all nonessential business will now run through at least May 15. That is a full month longer than the county initially said the rules would be in place. California also has a state-wide “safer at home” mandate, but Governor Gavin Newsom did not project an end date when he enacted the order in mid-March.

“We are seeing a true flattening of the curve,” Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, said, describing a decrease in the daily number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. “But because there are so many people infected, we have to continue this.” The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in California just surpassed 20,000 and is approaching 8,000 in L.A. County. The county has 10 million residents and includes the city of L.A., as well as major cities like Long Beach, Pasadena and Santa Monica.

Ferrer also described new requirements for all essential businesses that remain open, mainly grocery stores but also those businesses that have been found to provide essential services. Starting April 15 at midnight, all businesses are required to supply workers with a cloth mask and, if they operate in an environment with multiple workers or interaction with the public, they must outline and post for all employees to see the measures being taken for social distancing and to keep workers safe. Businesses also need to plan and post measures being taken to ensure cleaning of the workplace.

Prior to this, businesses like grocery stores had only been required to provide employees with hand sanitizer and a place to wash their hands while implementing social distancing guidelines for customers by limiting people coming into the store at one time to between 25 and 50, depending on the size of a store.

Other businesses that can remain open include: food banks and farmer’s markets; businesses offering service to the economically disadvantaged; gas stations, banks and financial institutions; hardware stores, plumbers and electricians, and health-care operations, along with public transportation services.

Ferrer said county officials and representatives would be conducting briefings with essential businesses “throughout the next week to help businesses to come into compliance.”

L.A. County as of Friday requires all citizens to wear a face mask when interacting with an essential business, and all essential workers to wear one while working as well. Beverly Hills, the wealthiest enclave of the county, actually requires everyone to wear a mask whenever they are outside of the house.

County officials during the briefing urged citizens to keep working to limit contact and interactions, and to wear masks (except on nursing children or those with severe breathing difficulties), which a number of fashion and textile companies are now producing. Supply, even for health-care workers, has been far short of what’s needed. But one potential problem with the mask order is what Ferrer urged on Friday: daily washing of a cloth mask, to ensure its effect.

“I want to acknowledge that we’re asking a lot of all of you,” she said. ” But please keep doing what you’ve been doing. Stay home and wear your cloth covering when you’re out.”

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