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LA County Officials: 'Safer At Home' Order Could Be Lifted In May, But 'Things Will Be Very Different'

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles County health officials reported 42 new coronavirus deaths Wednesday -- the highest single-day total so far -- while also hinting at what life could look like if the safer-at-home restrictions are eased as soon as next month.

A worker changes the posters on an empty Hollywood Blvd amid the coronavirus pandemic on April 15, 2020 in Los Angeles. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

The 42 deaths were the highest daily total for the second day in row. On Monday, 40 deaths were reported. There were also 472 new cases, bring L.A. County's total to 10,496 cases and 402 deaths . The mortality rate held at 3.8 percent.

L.A. County Public Health Director Dr. Barbara Ferrer told reporters that the safer-at-home order could be lifted in May. The current order is in place through at least May 15.

"Certain strategies must be in place as we begin to lift our health officer orders, safer at home, later on in the month of May in most likelihood," Ferrer said.

She explained that as the county looks to reopen businesses and "get more people back to work," social distancing guidelines will likely remain place for a long time to come.

"I want to note that things will be very different," Ferrer said. "Physical distancing will still be a very important part of recovery."

Ferrer said that some of those guidelines would include retailers limiting how many people can be in their stores at one time.

"So that people who are there can maintain a lot of distance between themselves, other people who are there, and employees," Ferrer said.

Cloth face coverings, handwashing and physical distancing may be commonplace requirements for "all public places and spaces." Furthermore, some locations could take customers' temperatures at the door before letting them in.

"Our to get as many people back to work as possible," Ferrer said. "But we also need to make sure that we do this in a way that protects all of the employees, employers and customers."

She added that arts and cultural sights would also see limits on the number of visitors they allow in. Events that previously had audiences may take place without them for the foreseeable future.

"Events may be spectator-free," Ferrer said. "And events will require physical distancing."

When trails and bike paths reopen, they could require hikers and bikers to go only one-way, she speculated.

Meanwhile, Ferrer reported that 1,501 people were currently hospitalized with coronavirus in L.A. County. Of those, 31 percent were in ICU beds and 19 percent were on ventilators.

There were 1,764 cases in 205 "institutional settings," which include nursing homes, assisted living facilities, jails, prisons, homeless shelters, treatment centers and supporting living facilities.

At least 133 residents of institutional settings have died. Most of them lived in skilled nursing homes or assisted living facilities. They account for about 33 percent of all deaths countywide.

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