County health officials today reported another 1,032 newly confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 41 additional deaths as they reminded residents to follow social distancing guidelines, wear face coverings in public during the Memorial Day weekend.
The holiday will challenge residents' resolve to adhere to most stay-at-home restrictions as more businesses and public spaces reopened.
Santa Monica was seeing a noticeable reduction in the usual holiday crowds early today, according to a sergeant with the city's police department.
"It's been so far, so good, right now," Sgt. Chad Goodwin told City News Service shortly after noon today. "And I would say there is significantly less (at the beaches) than your typical Memorial Day holiday."
Beachgoers, Goodwin said, have been following the social distancing rules laid out by county, and the same appeared true for beaches in the Los Angeles Police Department's jurisdiction, said Officer Rosario Cervantes of the LAPD Media Relations Section.
"We're advising people to wear face coverings and practice social distancing," said Cervantes, adding that arrests "will be taken only as a last resort."
Today updated numbers from public health officials raise the county's totals to 44,055 cases and 2,090 deaths.
In a prepared statement, Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, offered numerous figures showing continued improvement after the White House officials said they want to have the Centers for Disease Control look into why Los Angeles has remained one of the nation's top coronavirus hot spots.
"Thanks to everyone's efforts, our data points to steady declines in hospitalizations, deaths, and the percent of people testing positive," Ferrer said."For example, the percent of people tested who are positive in L.A. County is now at an all-time low of 8.5%; in comparison, New York City's positivity rate is currently 28%. The increase we see in our number of cases is because we have increased the number of people we are testing, and this is a good thing."
On Friday, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti defended the city's actions during the pandemic after an assistant attorney general for the U.S. Justice Department's Civil Rights Division sent a cautionary letter addressed to the mayor and Ferrer.
"Reports of your recent public statements indicate that you suggested the possibility of long-term lockdown of the residents in the city and county of Los Angeles, regardless of the legal justification for such restrictions. Any such approach may be both arbitrary and unlawful," the letter said, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"Together, with science, the numbers will always guide us forward," Garcetti said Friday. "There is nothing else. There's no games, there's nothing else going on."
Public Health has issued the following guidance for people with mild illness during this time of increased spread:
• Stay at home whenever possible and practice social distancing -- keep at least six-feet away from others when you leave your home.
• Wash your hands with soap and water as frequently as possible for at least 20 seconds. Use hand sanitizer when water is not available.
• The general public should wear non-medical face coverings when interacting with others while obtaining essential supplies and services. You should not purchase hospital-grade masks, which are in short supply and desperately needed in hospitals. People can use scarves or other fabric, suggesting that people go online for instructions on how to fashion a homemade mask.
• If you are mildly sick, stay home for at least seven days and until 72 hours after being fever and symptom free. Call your doctor if you are concerned and/or your symptoms worsen. Individuals who are elderly, have underlying health conditions or pregnant should consider contacting their providers earlier when they are sick.
Additional things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your community are on the Public Health website.