LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Hair salons and barbershops will be allowed to reopen for limited indoor service in Los Angeles County, with the county announcing today it will bring those businesses in line with recently amended state coronavirus reopening guidelines.
The county will also allow some in-person instruction to resume for students in kindergarten through 12th grade, but only for small groups of students with individualized learning plans, students requiring instruction for English as a second language and students needing other “specialized in-school services.''
All other students will still be limited to remote learning.
County officials said indoor hair salons and barbershops can resume operating, but limited to 25% of capacity. The county is still not authorizing the reopening of indoor shopping malls, even though new state guidelines that took effect Monday allow those malls to open with capacity limited to 25%.
Individual counties can impose regulations that are stricter than the state guidelines. Malls in some other counties, including Orange County, began reopening Monday.
Los Angeles County Supervisors Janice Hahn and Hilda Solis said that while hair salons and barbershops will have to adhere to the 25% capacity limit, officials plan to review the operations after Labor and consider possibly increasing the limit.
The county has seen downward trends in coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations in recent weeks, and officials appear to be taking a cautious approach to reopenings of new businesses to avoid a repeat of earlier spikes.
County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis announced another 51 COVID-19 deaths Wednesday, although one of those fatalities was reported Tuesday by Long Beach health officials. Long Beach and Pasadena each reported five additional deaths Wednesday.
The new fatalities increased the overall death toll in the county since the pandemic began to 5,888.
Davis said that 22 of Wednesday's fatalities reported by the county were people over the age of 80. Strikingly, two of the deaths were people between the ages of 18 and 29 who had no underlying health conditions.
Meanwhile, there were 1,457 new cases announced by the county, along with 54 by Long Beach and 15 by Pasadena, bringing the cumulative figure to 244,004.
Davis said that more than 2.3 million people have been tested countywide, with 10% testing positive.
He also said there have been 1,589 cases involving people experiencing homelessness.
According to the county, the seven-day average daily number of new cases has dropped to 1,300, continuing a steady decline. Health officials have been reporting downward trends in new cases, deaths and hospitalizations -- with 1,048 people hospitalized with the virus as of Wednesday.
Solis urged residents to continue to be diligent in following health guidelines over Labor Day weekend to prevent a resurgence of the virus. The Department of Public Health has been trying to promote that message for several days, particularly with hot weather expected over the long holiday weekend.
The Fourth of July and Memorial Day holiday weekends both resulted in dramatic spikes in coronavirus cases in the county.
In a statement Tuesday, the county Department of Public Health warned again that “it is important not to gather with people who aren't part of your household as it puts you at risk for COVID-19.''
The county released a list of activities that are banned by the Health Officer Orders, “even if they feel safe.'' Those activities include baby showers, gender-reveal parties, backyard barbecues for Labor Day, student study groups, Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur dinners and “gathering at the beach with friends over the hot weekend.''
There has been no indication that the county might opt to close beaches to prevent large gatherings.
Health officials fear that the holiday weekend could reverse a downward trend in coronavirus deaths, new cases and hospitalizations.
“We could easily be knocked off that path to recovery if we see a surge (in new cases),'' Solis said.
Los Angeles County is also gearing up for the coming flu season, with public health director Barbara Ferrer saying residents should get vaccinated, especially given the continuing threat of COVID-19.
“We are positive that we will have both influenza and COVID-19 circulating at the same time,'' she told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday.
“While we don't have a vaccination for COVID-19 at this time, we do have a vaccination for influenza.''
Solis also warned about the danger flu season poses this year, saying the flu could exacerbate coronavirus symptoms, so getting a vaccination for it “is more important now than ever.''
She said the county will host vaccine clinics and open pop-up sites to provide vaccinations in underserved communities.
Immunization is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months. Vaccines are already available at some doctors' offices, clinics and pharmacies, and Ferrer said the county should have its own stocks available next week.
If enough residents get vaccinated, it will help decrease the stress on the county's health care system as it works to support patients fighting either COVID-19 or influenza, which have similar symptoms, Ferrer told the board.
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