Los Angeles County officials said stay at home orders could be eased by late May, once coronavirus testing becomes more accessible and the number of new cases confirmed each day plateaus.
Although Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer reported 42 deaths Wednesday — the highest number in a single day — the number of cases reported daily is not surging because the public is largely complying with stay at home orders. Ferrer said some aspects of L.A. County’s order, which was recently extended to May 15, could be relaxed by late May if Gov. Gavin Newsom also eases restrictions across California.
“Taking steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 has asked everyone to do their part,” Ferrer said in a statement. “The sacrifices made cannot be counted: some have lost loved ones, some have been ill, some have lost jobs, some have had to temporarily close businesses, some are guiding children through remote learning and everyone has had to live our day-to-day life very differently than we are used to. Thank you for continuing to do what you’re doing.”
Officials said Wednesday that any county resident with symptoms of coronavirus will be able to book same-day or next-day testing through coronavirus.lacity.org/testing at drive-through testing sites. More than 67,00 people have been tested, and 11% have tested positive.
In Santa Monica, two cases were reported Wednesday out of a total of 472 new cases in L.A. County. There are 98 cases confirmed in the city and nearly 10,500 across the county. About 1,500 county residents are currently hospitalized, 31% of whom are in the ICU.
Twenty-eight people experiencing homelessness have tested positive, including six shelter residents, Ferrer said. Three lived in the same shelter.
Although Santa Monica hospitals have the capacity to treat an uptick in coronavirus patients, global shortages of personal protective equipment and have left nurses and other medical workers at Providence St. John’s Health Center and UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica without N95 masks and other PPE.
Nurses have protested the response of management at both hospitals to the PPE shortage in recent weeks, claiming management is arbitrarily withholding equipment from nurses working with coronavirus patients.
On Wednesday, Providence St. John’s announced it would begin disinfecting N95 masks for reuse using a system recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday that the state’s PPE needs will be met in early May after the state spends $1.4 billion to secure 200 million masks.
Stay at home restrictions may be relaxed — but not lifted — in late May, if California has enough hospital beds and ventilators to treat a potential increase in cases, testing is widely available and at-risk populations are protected from infection, Newsom said.
Californians will have to continue to wear face coverings and practice physical distancing for at least another two months, he said.