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LA’s Coronavirus Uptick Could Imperil Reopenings

LOS ANGELES, CA — It’s too soon to tell if the three-day increase in new coronavirus cases is a surge, but it has county leaders watching closely. If the trend continues, it could imperil business reopenings in the near future.

On Friday, the Los Angeles County Public Health Department reported 1,226 new cases of coronavirus. The region saw its highest single day of new cases in nearly two months – 1,645 new cases reported on Wednesday. County health officials are working to pinpoint the cause of the uptick. The uptick is likely too late to be a result of Labor Day gatherings and too early to be tied to newly reopened businesses such as cardrooms, wineries and breweries.

The county also reported another 13 coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the countywide total to 6,741. Health officials also reported another child with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, bringing the overall number of cases of the rare malady to 41 in the county. The condition, which has been linked to COVID-19 exposure, results in inflammation of bodily organs.

Nearly half of the children who contracted the syndrome in Los Angeles County had to be treated in an intensive-care unit, but there have been no reported deaths in the county from the illness.

Los Angeles County is still in the strictest level of the state’s four- tier economic-reopening roadmap. The county’s recent testing positivity rate is low enough to qualify the county to move up to a less-restrictive tier, but the average daily number of new cases needs to drop to about 700 per day before any movement will occur. As of Wednesday, the county’s rate of new cases per 100,000 residents was averaging 7.4, above the limit of 7 needed to move out of the state’s restrictive “purple” tier.

Health officials said this week they would be closely monitoring the case numbers, but said the elevated numbers should be a reminder that COVID-19 is still spreading in the community.

With more businesses reopening in the past week, health officials urged customers and business owners to adhere to all safety protocols when patronizing restaurants or other merchants. According to the county, 118 virus outbreaks in businesses or workplaces were opened in the past two weeks alone. Since Sunday, the county has issued 125 citations to businesses for failing to comply with health protocols, and an undisclosed number were actually closed due to “significant health and safety concerns or violations” of health orders.

No details were released on business closures.

After months of closure, indoor shopping malls were permitted to reopen Wednesday, though limited at 25% of capacity and with food courts and common areas remaining closed. That follows nail salons, which were permitted to reopen indoors last week; card rooms, which were allowed to open outdoors on Monday; and outdoor playgrounds, which were cleared to reopen at the discretion of individual cities.

The county this week also began accepting waiver applications from schools that want to offer in-person instruction for pre-kindergarten