LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles County on Friday extended its safer-at-home and business-closure orders through May 15, 2020, as public health officials said that 8,430 individuals in the county have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The initial order was set to expire on April 19.
County health officials said that based on a detailed analysis of county cases to date, the numbers show that the current social-distancing practices have "flattened the curve" of COVID-19 spread. However, health officials believe that if the safer-at-home order was lifted, the trend would quickly reverse.
"If you were to reduce physical distancing to the pre-health officer order levels, virtually all individuals in Los Angeles County, 95.6% per the model, would be infected by the pandemic by Aug. 1, 2020," said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county's director of health services. "That number is starkly reduced, down to about 30%, if we maintain the current levels of physical distancing."
Prior to Easter Sunday, the county issued the closure of all public parks to ensure the practice of social distancing. With the extended safer-at-home order, families will likely be under the same guidelines for Mother's Day, which falls on May 10.
County officials added that all current closures in place, including beaches, parks and trails, will continue to remain closed.
The closure now requires all essential businesses to provide employees with cloth-face coverings, which they will be required to wear while they work. It will also require that all essential businesses post information about social distancing requirements at each of their establishments. Those additional measures take effect next Wednesday, according to Public Health.
The order also requires anyone who enters an essential business to wear a cloth face-covering in order to keep both themselves, and the essential workers, safe.
Public Health officials said that children two and under should not wear face coverings.
Los Angeles County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer announced an additional 18 COVID-19 deaths since the day prior, bringing the county's total number of deaths to 241.
Of the newly reported deaths, 10 were over the age of 65, seven were between the ages of 41 and 65 and one was between the age of 18 and 40. Ferrer did not specify whether or not these individuals had underlying health conditions.
Echoing guidance from the White House, Ferrer on Monday said people should try to avoid leaving their homes altogether for the next two weeks as the pandemic is expected to worsen across the country.
"If you have enough supplies in your home, this would be the week to skip shopping altogether," she said.
Public Health advised residents against leaving their homes for groceries or medications, encouraging residents to arrange to have them delivered instead, if necessary.
Public Health continues to stress to the public that while a majority of those who have died from COVID-19 in the county had underlying health conditions, not everyone does. Residents are urged to continue to take the necessary precautions in order to protect themselves from the virus.
Health officials say that social distancing remains our best defense against the virus, and all residents are instructed to abide by current measures in place across the state. Social distancing is not only about preventing the illness itself, but rather, slowing the rate at which people get sick.
On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that it would be recommending people wear cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies, especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
The use of face coverings is believed to help slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus, without knowing it, from transmitting it to others.
This comes as more evidence is emerging that coronavirus infections are being spread by people who have no clear symptoms. Last week, the CDC changed how it was defining risk of infection for Americans, saying anyone may be a considered a carrier, whether they have symptoms or not.
In accordance with new guidelines from the CDC, Public Health said that anyone who begins to experience symptoms must contact those they were in contact with up to 48 hours prior to having symptoms in order for them to self-isolate.
Public Health requests that anyone who experiences any symptoms of COVID-19 to self-isolate for the 14-day quarantine period in order to help slow the spread.
According to the CDC, symptoms of the virus include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Anyone who experiences these symptoms should call their healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.
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Public Health has issued the following guidance during this time of increased spread:
"If you are mildly sick, stay home for at least seven days or until 72 hours after being fever free, whichever is longer. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen. Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or pregnant should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick."
Click here for a list of locations of confirmed coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County.