Los Angeles County Remains in the State’s Most Restrictive Tier
Despite progress, case rates in Los Angeles County remain within Tier 1 of the state’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, the most restrictive tier. On Wednesday, October 7, the director of the L.A. County Department of Public Health (DPH), Dr. Barbara Ferrer, provided an update noting that because the County’s rate of new cases of 100,000 per day remains above 7.0, the County will not move into Tier 2.
While most of the County’s COVID-19 metrics have plateaued in recent weeks, the County experienced a slight uptick in new cases last week, with several days of over 1,000 new cases. On Wednesday, October 7, the County reported 1,645 new cases, its highest single-day new case number since August 22. Dr. Ferrer said that “while one day does not indicate a trend, it is something we need to watch closely.” The County subsequently reported 1,280 new cases on Thursday, October 8, and 1,256 new cases on Friday, October 9.
Reopening Several Sectors in L.A. County
The County continues to press on with reopening. As of Monday, October 5, the County had reopened or was moving to reopen several sectors that had been permitted to reopen based on the County’s Tier 1 status on the state’s Blueprint but which had previously been closed:
- As of October 1, nail salons were permitted to resume indoor services at 25% capacity. Outdoor services should continue as much as possible.
- As of October 5, cardrooms were permitted to reopen for outdoor operations only. Food and beverages may not be served at the tables. Face coverings are required.
- On October 7, indoor shopping malls were allowed to reopen with occupancy limited to 25% capacity; all food courts and all common areas remain closed, although takeout service is permitted.
- Outside playgrounds can reopen at the discretion of cities and the L.A. County Department of Parks and Recreation. Face coverings and physical distancing are required.
Notably, on Wednesday, October 7, DPH released guidelines for breweries and wineries that can now open for outdoor service. Alcohol may be sold only with food, and reservations are required in advance.
The County also moved to begin reopening schools. As previously noted, the Board of Supervisors approved a motion to reopen schools from Transitional Kindergarten to Second Grade. The waiver process for this reopening began on Monday, October 5. As of Wednesday, October 7, the County had received approximately 26 applications.
Local Small-Business Relief
Last week, the Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) began implementation of a Small Business Revitalization Grant program. This program, funded by federal CARES Act money provided to assist with COVID-19 relief, will provide grants of up to $30,000 for small businesses impacted by the County Health Order’s mandatory closures. Grants are available to businesses with 100 or fewer employees and average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less over the past three years. Applications became available on Friday, October 9, and are open until Friday, October 16, 2020, at noon, and winners will be selected by lottery on Tuesday, October 20, 2020. The program is not open to businesses operating within the city of Los Angeles, which has its own program, the LA Regional COVID Fund. You can find more information on the County program here.
Budget Impacts Reduced at County and City Levels
At the County level, on Tuesday, October 13, 2020, the County Board of Supervisors will consider the allocation of over $73 million from additional federal CARES Act funding to various County departments, including the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs; the Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services; and the County’s Economic Development budget unit.
At the City level, on Monday, October 5, the Los Angeles Times reported that Mayor Eric Garcetti and ten of the city’s public employee unions agreed to a deal to delay the city’s planned furlough of employees. The new proposal would:
- Have civilian employees take an unpaid day off on Election Day, November 3, 2020;
- Defer remaining furlough days to after January 17, 2021;
- Reduce the total number of furlough days for the fiscal year 2020-21 to 11;
- Create a new floating holiday for City civilian employees for the 2020–21 fiscal year; and
- Delay a planned payment of unused sick time until 2022.
The Los Angeles City Council will consider the proposal, including letters of agreement with the City’s labor unions, on Tuesday, October 13, 2020.