LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County's COVID-19 case rate continued to fall Tuesday, putting the county on track to move into the less-restrictive orange tier of the state's reopening plan by early April.
According to the state's weekly update of county-by-county COVID figures, Los Angeles County's average daily rate of new virus infections fell to 3.7 per 100,000 residents, down from 4.1 last week. To qualify for the orange tier, a county's case rate must be 3.9 or less.
To enter the orange tier, which would allow for more reopenings, the county needs to meet the orange tier criteria for two consecutive weeks.
The county also needs to remain in the red tier for at least three weeks before it can advance to another tier.
On March 12, Los Angeles County moved into the red tier. Because of that, so the earliest it could move to orange is the first weekend in April, assuming current trends continue.
Under the orange tier, the county would be able to lift all capacity restrictions at retail and personal care businesses. The capacity limit at movie theaters, churches, museums, zoos, aquariums and restaurants could also increase from 25% to 50% and fitness center capacity could increase from 10% to 25%.
Meanwhile, bars would be able to reopen outdoors, while card rooms and family entertainment centers could be cleared to resume indoor operations.
On Tuesday, county Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer confirmed the timeline for a possible move to the orange tier but warned of COVID-19 cases increasing in many states and other countries.
"We continue to remain concerned about the potential risks that can thwart our progress," she said. "The risks include increased circulation of variants of concern, increased case numbers across much of Europe and many states, re-openings and actions taken by individuals related to spring break and spring holidays."
Ferrer also noted recent testing showing an increased presence of various COVID-19 variants, which are believed to be far more easily spread.
"The results do indicate that variants are widely circulating, and it may make it easier for virus transmission to occur if we're not vigilant in practicing safety precautions," Ferrer said.
Ferrer said she remains confident that current vaccines are still effective against the variants, but said only a limited portion of the population has been vaccinated.
The county reported 66 additional COVID-19 fatalities Tuesday and 490 more cases.
The numbers brought the county's death toll to caseload to 22,879 and the cumulative caseload to 1,215,175.
The number of people hospitalized with COVID was 719 as of Tuesday, a slight rise from 713 on Monday while the number of people in intensive care was listed at 180.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)
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