At Los Angeles County’s Wednesday coronavirus news conference, County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis said a small swath of the county’s students would be allowed to resume in-person instruction. Hair salons and barbershops are also being allowed to reopen indoors at 25 percent capacity.
Beginning Monday, September 14, K-12 schools may offer in-school services for small cohorts of students with Individualized Education Plans, students requiring instruction for English as a Second Language or students needing assessments or specialized in-school services, as long as the school is able to fully implement the Health Officer’s re-opening protocols.
Davis said the Public Health Department would not be opening the waiver program for at-large instruction of students in grades K-6 as the department monitors the implementation of this effort to safely get students needing specialized in-school services back to school.
L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn told KNX Newsradio that the county is still not authorizing the reopening of indoor shopping malls. The state’s revised guidelines released Friday allow indoor malls to reopen at 25 percent capacity. But it is up to individual counties to approve the reopenings. L.A. officials have said repeatedly they are going slow with indoor retail which, one assumes, includes movie theaters.
Los Angeles County is also gearing up for the coming flu season, with public health director Barbara Ferrer urging residents to get vaccinated, especially given the continuing threat of COVID-19.
“We are positive that we will have both influenza and COVID-19 circulating at the same time,” she told the Board of Supervisors Tuesday. “While we don’t have a vaccination for COVID-19 at this time, we do have a vaccination for influenza.”
The seasonal flu and COVID-19 are different viruses, observed L.A County Board of Supervisors Chair Pro Tem Hilda Solis. “We don’t know how they interact with each other,” said Solis, and “there are concerns that people could be infected with both, possibly exacerbating their symptoms.”
And a flood of patients with “severe influenza” could overwhelm hospitals, warned the supervisor. She urged Angelenos to get a flu shot to help avoid twin infections.
Hahn said on Tuesday that she was hearing the term “twindemic” used to describe the possibility of dual health crises this fall.
As the county considers reopening certain sectors of the economy, taking precautions against both COVID-19 and the flu will be even more important, said Hahn.
So how bad might the flu season be? According to the latest CDC flu reporting, maybe not so bad.
In the countries of North America, influenza activity indicators, including the percent of tests positive for influenza, were at very low levels. In the United States of America, at the national level, ILI activity remained below the national baseline except in the 0-4 years old where activity was reported just above baseline.
Immunization is recommended for everyone over the age of 6 months, said Ferrer. Vaccines are already available at some doctors’ offices, clinics and pharmacies. Ferrer said the county should have its own stocks available next week.
If enough residents get vaccinated, it will help decrease the stress on the county’s health care system as it works to support patients fighting either COVID-19 or influenza, which have similar symptoms, Ferrer told the board on Tuesday.
As for Wedensday’s coronavirus data, there were 51 new deaths reported for a total of 5,878.
Dr. Davis announced 1,457 new COVID cases for a total of 243,935.
The county’s cases per 100,000 measure is now at 10 per 100,000. The state now requires counties be under 7 per 100,000 for three weeks before they are allowed to open further sectors.
The R, or transmission rate is, is 0.94. That’s slightly higher than it has been recently, but still under 1, which is the tipping point at which each person transmits the virus to more than 1 other person.
Hospitalizations still decreasing, but that decrease seems to be “flattening off,” according to officials.