news 3 days ago

Barger pushes for LA County cities with fewer coronavirus cases to move faster to reopen

Daily News, Los Angeles — Ryan Carter Daily News, Los Angeles

May 23-- May 23--Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger is seeking a variance from the state to allow cities in the county with lower numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths to advance more quickly toward lifting stay-at-home restrictions on businesses.

Barger, the chairwoman of the board, has introduced a motion -- co-authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn -- asking the board to sign off on the request, which would then go the state for a greenlight.

Barger also wrote a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, asking for his support to enable L.A. County to push deeper into Stage 2 and and on into Stage 3 of California's COVID-19 pandemic roadmap. She cited the county's declines in its hospitalization and positive case rate, as well as new projections on decreased rates of transmission.

On Monday, Newsom announced revamped criteria that allows counties across the state to advance more quickly in "Stage 2" of the state's 4-stage "Roadmap to Recovery."

As a whole, the county -- the most populous in the state, which has shouldered most of the deaths and infections in the state from the pandemic -- has been moving slowly on meeting that criteria, relative to many other counties.

But local cities within the county -- particularly in parts of Barger's northern district -- have fewer deaths and fewer infections and say they are in a better position to advance under the governor's new criteria.

Under the new criteria, counties must show evidence of meeting key benchmarks on testing capacity, contract tracing, infection rates and death rates to move more quickly through Stage 2 and beyon to allow the county to reopen the majority of businesses.

That would include allowing for opening of dine-in restaurants, in-store retail, indoor malls and shopping centers, movie theaters and and personal care facilities. The variance would would also help reopen schools and child-care facilities, and in-person worship services, said Barger.

Ultimately, the motion also asks the Los Angeles County Chief Executive Office, County Counsel and Public Health Officer, to pursue a variance with the state once the county has achieved readiness under the state's identified criteria.

"I am fully committed to the phased reopening of Los Angeles County in light of the substantive measures that we have taken to successfully slow the spread of COVID-19," Barger said in a statement released late Friday.

"This includes ensuring for adequate hospital capacity; increasing the access and availability of testing and contact tracing; and implementing protections for vulnerable populations," she said. "These efforts, coupled with our public health data that indicates a lower level of risk in reopening than previously thought, supports expediency in moving our region through Stage 2 and into Stage 3."

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