Los Angeles County Reports Zero Daily Covid-19 Deaths For 2nd Day In A Row; 1st Time in Over A Year

On Sunday and Monday, Los Angeles County reported no additional deaths from Covid-19, though officials stressed those low numbers likely reflect reporting delays over the weekend.

Still, given that the number of daily deaths was over 200 in January and that in the past year the region has lost nearly 30,000 souls to Covid, even if the counts are an anomaly it’s welcome news. According to county records, the last time there were no daily pandemic deaths recorded in L.A. was on March 18, 2020. That was also the last time there were two consecutive days with zero Covid-related deaths in the region. There were only 15 such deaths statewide on Monday.

More good news: As of Saturday, the county’s test positivity rate was at the lowest level of the pandemic at 0.6%.

“This does represent a delay from the weekend,” said county public health director Barbara Ferrer on Monday about the numbers, “and we’re hoping that the number of deaths does remain low.”

According to state figures, the number of coronavirus patients in L.A. county hospitals dropped from 410 on Saturday to 390, with 87 people in intensive care, up from 86 the previous day.

California Governor Gavin Newsom said on Monday that the state’s number of Covid-related hospitalizations is at an all-time low since the start of the pandemic. Coronavirus patients in CA were down from a January peak of nearly 23,000 to 1,626 on Monday.

Sunday’s figures brought the county’s totals to 1,233,772 cases and 23,915 fatalities since the pandemic began, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The county has further eased its Covid-19 health restrictions, allowing indoor playgrounds and arcades to reopen at limited capacity, while lifting restrictions on operating hours for bars, breweries and wineries.

Indoor arcades and playgrounds — such as laser tag businesses, ball pits or “bounce” centers — are restricted to 25% of capacity, along with other mandated safety modifications.

Bars, which are currently allowed to operate outdoors only, had been restricted to operating hours of 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., but those restrictions are now lifted.

On Monday, playgrounds at all Los Angeles Unified elementary schools and early education centers will reopen. District personnel will use electrostatic misters and approved disinfectant to regularly sanitize playground equipment, the same procedure used to clean frequently touched surfaces in a school, according to Superintendent Austin Beutner.

The easing of restrictions comes amid continued concern about the slowing pace of vaccinations in the county.

County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer again stressed the urgency for people to get inoculated, while also continuing to adhere to other health guidelines to prevent a resurgence of the virus locally.

“Getting vaccinated in L.A. County is easier and more accessible than ever before and we encourage everyone waiting to get vaccinated to take advantage of the opportunity as soon as possible,” Ferrer said. “There continues to be much higher risk of COVID-19 transmission among unvaccinated people. As more L.A. County residents and workers are vaccinated, the risk of transmission of variants is significantly reduced and we get back to the many activities that we loved to do before the pandemic.”

The county is expected to reach the least-restrictive yellow tier of the state’s four-tier Blueprint for a Safer Economy when updated statistics are released on Tuesday. Ferrer said if the county does qualify for the move, a new health order with more relaxed restrictions will be published Wednesday, taking effect Thursday.

Entering the yellow tier will primarily allow higher capacity limits at most businesses. Fitness centers, cardrooms, wineries and breweries, for\ instance, would be permitted to increase indoor attendance limits to 50%, up from the current 25%; bars would be able to open indoors at 25%; outdoor venues such as Dodger Stadium could increase capacity to 67%, up from the current 33%; and amusement parks could allow 35%, up from 25%.

The county also revised its health order last week to incorporate changes in mask-wearing guidelines recommended last week for fully vaccinated people by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The revisions also state that surveillance COVID testing is no longer recommended for fully vaccinated people, unless they work at skilled nursing facilities or other high-risk settings, are traveling internationally or are required by a particular business or facility.

City News Service contributed to this report.