Restrictions begin to lift, but Manhattan Beach’s death toll increases
by Mark McDermott
Los Angeles County has lifted its Stay at Home public health order, allowing outdoor dining, private gatherings with people from households outside their own, and personal care businesses to resume. The health order was issued on November 30, after ICUs throughout the County reached zero capacity due to an influx of COVID-19 patients.
Manhattan Beach this week registered two more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the city’s total to 11 deaths since the pandemic began, seven of which occurred in the last month.
Mayor Suzanne Hadley expressed guarded optimism that both the city’s and the county’s declining numbers of COVID-19 cases and the increased capacity at local ICUs represented light at the end of the tunnel.
“Finally, several COVID metrics such as case counts and hospitalizations have improved significantly,” Hadley said. “This is wonderful news. Of course we need to stay vigilant: Our ICUs are still crowded. Sadly Manhattan Beach has now lost 11 residents to COVID…Our hearts go out to the families who have lost a loved one. The latest surge has taken a toll.”
Countywide, a key metric was hit for reopening when the 3-day average number of available adult ICU beds did not decrease at any time in the previous 14 days, and the overall capacity reached 10 percent. Locally, Torrance Memorial Medical Center’s ICU reached 10 percent capacity on Sunday, while Harbor UCLA was at 4 percent and Providence Little Company of Mary remained at zero capacity (but with surge capacity intact).
Barbara Ferrer, the director of the LA County Department of Public Health, warned that the reopening could be quickly reversed should numbers worsen, as they did when restrictions were lifted earlier in the pandemic.
“COVID-19 transmission remains very high in Los Angeles County,” Ferrer said. “And while we issued a new health order that allows some businesses to reopen, this does not mean we have stopped the spread of the virus. The simple fact of the matter is if we are not more careful than we have been in the past when sectors have reopened, case counts will rise again, creating the possibility of another surge. I know we’ve been battling this virus for a year now and all of us are tired of the restrictions, but we need to continue to be vigilant for a while longer.”
Hadley praised the fact that the vaccine rollout has commenced but also warned residents not to become lax.
“During this welcome period of rising vaccinations and falling case counts, we still ask residents to stay vigilant against the virus,” Hadley said. “I hope all those who qualify for a vaccine will ask their doctor for assistance, or access the county website for an appointment [VaccinateLACounty.com]. Please continue to wear masks when shopping or working indoors and keep up our virus hygiene.”
“Brighter days now seem to lie ahead,” Hadley said. “More vaccines are going into more arms each week, which is great news. Vaccines will help protect our elderly and vulnerable residents. We are hoping the county continues to receive larger shipments of the vaccine. It seems many people wish to get vaccinated, which is also welcome news.” ER