LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Chair of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Kathryn Barger, announced Tuesday during the Los Angeles County Economic Resiliency Task Force’s second meeting that in collaboration with other LA County officials, health officials, and key leaders in the business sectors, union representatives and cultural interests, the county was targeting to fully reopen by July 4. Barger acknowledged that county officials, and city officials. would rely on data and science and guidance from health department officials while easing coronavirus restrictions.
“I understand the urgency to reopen and know many of the experts the County has assembled for this Task Force have been working hard to develop safe and efficient plans to revitalize their sectors as early as next month,” Barger said in a statement. “I remain focused on working with industry leaders and health officials to safely make way for Los Angeles County to reopen by the Fourth of July.”
The Director of The Los Angeles County Public Health Department, (LACDPH), Dr. Barbara Ferrer said, “The reality is we are going to really aim together to get there as quickly as possible, but we’re going to pay attention to the data and we’re going to pay attention to the science.”
The announcement came as LACDPH confirmed 76 new deaths and 1,183 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. One death was reported by the City of Long Beach and two deaths were reported by the City of Pasadena. To date, Public Health has identified 39,573 positive cases of COVID-19 across all areas of LA County, and a total of 1,913 deaths.
“I think reopening may have proven a lot harder than we may have envisioned as we are all making major adjustments to our businesses and day to day lives — that we’d thought we’d never need to make — many of us may be experiencing fear, frustration, anxiety, and depression,” Ferrer said. “I know this is all very difficult.”
As LA County’s death toll continues to rise, accounting for roughly half the death rate in the state as a whole, the economic forecast looks bleak principally by the staggering number of job losses and critical revenue shortfalls caused by the March 19 stay-at-home order which hit the tourism, service and hospitality sectors hard followed by the retail sector.
Although last week the county in accordance with the planned phased reopening criteria set by California Governor Gavin Newsom and state officials, had relaxed its health order to allow for additional businesses to reopen with modified conditions, such as curbside pick-up and delivery, in-store shopping at retail businesses and malls remains unavailable.
LA County officials are forecasting a $2 billion shortfall by next year and the city of Los Angeles reported a 77% drop in hotel taxes just in April reported Courthouse News.
According to a report from Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, more than one million Angelenos have filed unemployment claims. On April 21, 2020, the LAEDC Institute for Applied Economics published estimates for the Southern California economic conditions in May 2020, estimating a potential unemployment rate of 31.7% for LA County and 31.4% for the broader Southern California region.
Without a vaccine for the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 there are relatively few options outside of social distancing and cloth face masks to slow the spread of the virus, Dr. Ferrer noted adding that even with precautions being taken LA county health officials have noted obvious displays of people not following social distancing guidelines.
LA County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl noted the critical importance of public cooperation as we move closer to re-opening.
“Our ability to re-open depends on a very high level of cooperation from the public. If it weren’t for the public’s willingness to practice social distancing, wear face covers and take necessary precautions, we would not be in a position to begin to plan a re-opening, and our ability to meet our goal of reopening as fully as possible as quickly as possible is dependent on each and every resident of this county doing their part to protect their own health, the health of their family and their community,” Kuehl said.