Los Angeles County coronavirus figures continue to decline on eve of reopening

Kevin Rector
·2 min read
WOODLAND HILLS, CA -JULY 17, 2020: Jason Ruckart, center, a managing partner at Roy's Restaurant in Woodland Hills, hands chopsticks to customers Nicole Lehning, and her husband Kyle, as they dine outdoors. The Lehning's, visiting from Seattle, Washington, said they are on their honeymoon. Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Roy's Restaurant, located next to each other, converted the valet parking area into outdoor dining. Due to the coronavirus, the restaurants are only allowed to have outdoor dining and takeout as a safety precaution. Valet parking is also not allowed, only self-parking. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Jason Ruckart, a managing partner at Roy's restaurant in Woodland Hills, hands chopsticks to customers Nicole and Kyle Lehning as they dine outdoors in July. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to decline in Los Angeles County as the hard-hit and heavily populated region prepared to reopen businesses — including indoor restaurants, gyms and movie theaters — for the first time in months.

With the caveat that the figures may be artificially low due to lags in weekend reporting, county health officials on Sunday reported 644 new coronavirus cases. There were 28 deaths in the county, compared with 250 deaths a day during the winter peak in January.

There were 951 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county Sunday; a third of those were in intensive care. On Saturday, 979 COVID-19 patients were in county hospitals, marking the first time in more than three months that the figure dropped below 1,000.

Sunday's declines continued a downward trend in recent weeks, bolstered by millions of vaccinations being delivered to county residents, that put Los Angeles on a path to move out of the state's strictest tier for business closures and restrictions. Starting Monday, the county will permit various businesses that have been closed for months to reopen at a portion of their capacity.

Museums, zoos and aquariums may open indoors at 25% capacity; gyms, fitness centers and yoga and dance studios at 10% capacity; movie theaters at 25% capacity, with reserved, separated seating for groups; and retail and personal care services at 50% capacity.

Restaurants can open indoors at 25% capacity but must maintain eight feet of distance between tables. Indoor malls can operate at 50% capacity.

The change in tiers also means that county residents can gather with members of up to two other households indoors but must wear masks and maintain social distancing. Fully vaccinated residents can gather in small numbers indoors without masking.

Also under the new guidelines, schools may reopen for in-person instruction for grades seven through 12. Local school officials have control over when reopening will occur.

The changes go into effect Monday at 12:01 a.m.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.