LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — L.A. County health officials continued to relax safer-at-home orders on Friday, allowing more businesses to reopen — including museums, gyms, galleries, RV parks, and zoos.
The businesses are required to adhere to strict guidelines, ensuring social distancing and face coverings for employees and visitors.READ MORE: Dodgers Lose Game 2 To Braves In National League Championship
On Friday, the county reported another 1,633 cases of coronavirus, surpassing 70,000 total cases. So far, 70,476 residents have tested positive. However, public health chief Dr. Barbara Ferrer said about 500 of the day’s new cases were due to a backlog of test results reported by a single lab.
The county also announced 20 new coronavirus-related deaths, increasing the total fatalities to 2,832.
The new numbers come one day after L.A. County reported its highest single-day total of new cases on Thursday, prompting Ferrer to address growing concerns about the continued spread of the virus.
This week, county health officials have noted that the spread of COVID-19 is slightly increasing, which could threaten the availability of ICU hospital beds in about two to four weeks.
Ferrer said on Wednesday that the reopening of additional businesses should not be seen as an indicator that the county is out of the woods.
“We’re still in the middle of the woods and we have a lot of risk,” she said, adding that residents should continue to follow health restrictions when visiting any open businesses.
At the pandemic’s peak, those infected with COVID-19 transmitted the virus to an average of three other people. After businesses were forced to close and safer-at-home restrictions went into place, that number fell to below one.READ MORE: Child, 18 Months, Killed in North Hills Crash; Driver Still At Large
Since the economy has started to reopen and more people have been venturing out of their homes, the infection rate has again risen above one.
The county’s medical services director, Dr. Christina Ghaly, said the county has enough hospital beds to handle an increase in cases, but the higher infection rate could lead to a shortage of intensive-care beds within two to four weeks.
Ghaly said the county’s modeling predicts “the spread of COVID-19 in the Los Angeles County area is likely to increase gradually over time.”
Despite these concerns, the county moved forward with its new health order, which as of Friday morning allowed the opening of:
— gyms and fitness centers
— professional sports venues without live audiences
— day camps
— museums and galleries
— zoos and aquariums
— campgrounds and RV parks
— outdoor recreation such as swimming pools
— music, film and television production
— hotels for leisure travel.
Movie theaters are not included in the new order, though the state has said that they are permitted to reopen upon approval from individual counties.
Some businesses that are allowed to reopen are choosing not to.
The Los Angeles Zoo said in a statement Thursday that it does not anticipate reopening until July, and officials are still “making preparations” to resume operating.MORE NEWS: Bill Clinton Released From UCI Medical Center After 5 Nights
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