Falling COVID Cases, Reopenings Celebrated as Milestones

Life in Los Angeles County during the pandemic is quickly changing after COVID-19 cases plunged since the winter surge amid ramped up efforts to vaccinate residents.
State and county officials recently eased restrictions for schools to offer in-person instruction for their youngest learners, and more reopenings are expected across Los Angeles County as early as next week. Moving into the red tier would also permit schools to reopen for in-person instruction for students in grades 7-12.

The L.A. Department of Public Health anticipates moving out of the purple tier — indicating widespread infection — and into the less restrictive red tier as soon as Monday, March 15, in accordance with the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The new health order that would allow more businesses to reopen will be implemented when the state reaches the goal of administering two million doses of the vaccine to its most underprivileged communities.
“This milestone is the result of businesses and individuals working together and doing their part to prevent COVID-19 from spreading,” L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “It will be up to everyone, businesses and residents, to continue driving down transmission and follow safety directives closely to keep everyone safe as possible by preventing increases in cases.”
Restaurants can open indoors at 25% max capacity as long as tables are separated at least 8 feet apart from other patrons. Each table is limited to six people from as many as three households and the heating, cooling and ventilation system must be in good working order. Restaurant employees interacting with customers are recommended to wear N95 masks, KN95 masks or double masks and a face shield.
Movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity with reserved seating only where each group is seated at least 6 feet of distance in all directions between any other groups. Museums, zoos and aquariums can also open indoors at 25% capacity.
Gyms and fitness centers can open indoors at 10% capacity with masking requirements for all indoor activities.
Shopping malls, retail stores and personal care services can increase capacity to 50%. Common areas at the mall are to remain closed and food courts can open at 25% capacity adhering to same guidelines as restaurants.
In Glendale, there have been at least 19,226 residents confirmed to have COVID-19 since the pandemic was declared a year ago this week, while 586 of those residents have died from the disease. According to county data, there have been at least 29,628 residents to receive at least the first doses of their vaccinations, representing 17.1% of the city’s population.
In unincorporated La Crescenta-Montrose, at least 1,055 have been confirmed to have had COVID-19 since last March, with 13 of those residents dying. The county reports that 3,353 residents there — 20.2% — have had one or both doses of the vaccines.
The Glendale Unified School District this week affirmed its commitment to restarting in-person instruction at its elementary school sites this month. In spite of the announcement of its intentions this week, negotiations with the Glendale Teachers’ Association to work out a return-to-work agreement continue.
The district said transitional kindergarten through 2nd-grade will return on Monday, March 29, while 3rd- through 6th-graders will return Monday, April 5. Those students will work on a hybrid schedule alternating between classroom and remote instruction, to facilitate appropriate separation of students and the cleaning of schools. Those families who wish to remain entirely in remote learning have the option of doing so, the district has said.
The district began facilitating vaccination appointments for teachers with area hospitals last week and reached an agreement with Walgreens this week to continue opening appointments for more teachers.