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State approves more reopenings, but not in L.A. County

LOS ANGELES — More than two dozen more deaths from the coronavirus were confirmed May 26 in Los Angeles County, which also reported its highest single-day total of new COVID-19 cases, although officials said a backlog in test results contributed to the large jump.

The 27 new deaths reported by the county brought the county’s total number of fatalities from the virus to 2,145.

The county reported 1,843 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, raising the countywide total to 47,875.

Of the county’s overall deaths, 47% have occurred at skilled nursing facilities, which have been a focal point of the pandemic in the county. A total of 93% of the people who have died in the county from COVID-19 had underlying health conditions.

For the 1,974 deaths for which ethnic data was available, 39% were Latino, 29% were white, 17% were Asian, 12% were black and 1% were Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

The numbers were announced following a holiday weekend that saw thousands of people flocking to beaches, hiking trails and other recreation facilities, sparking concerns about residents’ willingness to continue adhering to restrictions such as social distancing and wearing face coverings.

Eaton Canyon was closed to hikers on Memorial Day because too many people showed up and failed to follow county health guidelines, officials said.

Some beach parking lots were reopened in Los Angeles County over the weekend and retail businesses inside enclosed shopping malls were allowed to reopen with curbside pickup only.

County officials warned anyone heading to the beach that face coverings are mandatory when not in the water. The active-use restriction also forbids sunbathing on the sand, meaning chairs, umbrellas, canopies and coolers are still barred — although such items were easy to spot at some beach areas.

Massive crowds were also spotted in some areas, most notably Venice Beach, and large numbers of people were spotted without face coverings.

Such images caught the attention of Gov. Gavin Newsom, who again warned residents that the virus has not gone away.

He warned there is a danger “that we go back to some sense of normalcy with amnesia, that we forget the past, we forget the fact that we’re meeting a mark of shame in this country, that 100,000 souls have lost their lives, that this pandemic continues, that we’re seeing positive numbers of cases increase, not decrease.

“Even though we’re seeing stability here in the state of California and positivity rates holding strong, that doesn’t mean this thing’s behind us and we’re out of the woods yet. Quite the contrary.”

Despite the concerns, Newsom has cleared the way for many counties in the state to open barber shops and hair salons, with safety protocols. Los Angeles County, however, has not yet been granted a variance from the state that would allow it to open businesses such as dine-in restaurants. Newsom said he is working with the county on a proposal to allow some individual cities to open more businesses.Los Angeles County is still home to about half of the state’s coronavirus cases and deaths.

Wave Wire Services