COVID-19: L.A. County hits milestone in move toward more reopenings


Los Angeles County has reached a significant milestone, as its COVID-19 metrics have met the threshold for the next, less restrictive tier in the state’s blueprint for reopening, according to updated metrics released by the California Department of Public Health Tuesday. 

L.A. County must continue to meet these metrics for two consecutive weeks before moving from the “purple” tier and into “red,” which is the “substantial risk” level that would allow for more reopenings.

The county’s seven-day average test positivity rate has dropped to 2.5%, while its seven-day average case rate is 6.9 per 100,000 residents per day, and its adjusted case rate is 5.2 per 100,000 — both of which meet the qualifications for the less restrictive tier — according to the state data released Tuesday and based on results from the week ending Feb. 27. The case rate is adjusted depending on the county’s testing volume.

Counties with a “substantial” spread of the virus fall under the red tier, and under this tier, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, zoos and aquariums can reopen indoors, at 25% capacity or 100 people — whichever is fewer — while gyms can reopen indoors at 10% capacity.  

Under this tier, junior high and high school students can also return to school campuses for in-person instruction, with William S. Hart Union High School District officials announcing Tuesday they’d be continuing with the target start date of March 29 for these students’ return. 

In addition, counties are permitted to increase capacities for businesses in sectors that are allowed to open for indoor services, such as retail stores and shopping malls, with an increased capacity of 50%.   

If L.A. County’s metrics remain in the red tier’s threshold of four to seven new COVID-19 diagnoses per 100,000 residents per day, the county could be given the green light to enter the red tier and reopen certain sectors on March 23.  

However, the state also announced Tuesday it had updated its metrics to include vaccine equity, which could accelerate L.A. County’s move to the red tier.  

Once 2 million vaccine doses have been administered statewide to the communities with the lowest score in the Healthy Places Index, the threshold to move from the purple to red tier is expected to change from seven new cases per 100,000 to 10 new cases per 100,000 residents. 

This would accelerate L.A. County’s move to the red tier, since the county has two consecutive weeks with case rates below 10 new cases per 100,000 residents, according to county Public Health officials. 

Public Health officials also released the following updated COVID-19 statistics Tuesday:  

New COVID-19 cases reported in L.A. County in the past 24 hours: 1,337 

Total COVID-19 cases in L.A. County: 1,205,276 

New deaths related to COVID-19 reported: 70 

Total COVID-19 deaths in L.A. County: 22,099 

Hospitalizations countywide: 1,119; 30% of whom are in the ICU. 

Hospitalizations at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital as of March 8: 7, with 1,168 discharged since the onset of the pandemic.  

COVID-19 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley in the past 24 hours: 37, 30 of which came from the city of Santa Clarita.  

Total COVID-19 cases in the SCV: 26,545 

Total COVID-19 deaths in the SCV: 272

The numbers of SCV cases, including all area health care providers’ daily figures and those at Pitchess Detention Center, broken down into region, are as follows:  

City of Santa Clarita: 19,469 

Unincorporated – Acton: 455  

Unincorporated – Agua Dulce: 257 

Unincorporated – Bouquet Canyon: 45  

Unincorporated – Canyon Country: 801  

Unincorporated – Castaic: 3,625 (majority of Castaic cases come from Pitchess Detention Center, exact number unavailable)  

Unincorporated – Lake Hughes: 40  

Unincorporated – Newhall: 66  

Unincorporated – Placerita Canyon: 1  

Unincorporated – San Francisquito Canyon/Bouquet Canyon: 15  

Unincorporated – Sand Canyon: 17  

Unincorporated – Saugus: 132  

Unincorporated – Saugus/Canyon Country: 40  

Unincorporated – Stevenson Ranch: 1,081 

Unincorporated – Val Verde: 317 

Unincorporated – Valencia: 184  

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