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L.A. County allows bars, nail salons, tattoo parlors to reopen Friday

A socially distanced and mask-wearing crowd gathers on a lawn in Pasadena.
A socially distanced and mask-wearing crowd gathers on the lawn of Catherine and Jonathan Karoly’s home in Pasadena to hear them play music.
(Christina House / Los Angeles Times)

Los Angeles County has given the green light for several more businesses to reopen Friday.

The list includes bars, wineries, breweries and tasting rooms, personal care services — including esthetician, skin care and cosmetology, electrology, nail salons, body art, tattoo parlors, microblading, piercing shops and massage therapy businesses — card rooms, satellite wagering facilities and racetracks without spectators.

All will be allowed to reopen if they implement the county’s requirements.

The news came as L.A. County officials announced 1,051 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the total number of infections to more than 78,200. Additionally, 36 more coronavirus-linked deaths were reported, sending the county’s death toll past 3,000.

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As with other businesses that have recently been allowed to reopen under California’s Stage 3, including gyms, museums and zoos as of last week, face coverings will be required by staff and visitors when around other people, and social distancing practices will be mandated. In some instances, employees may be required to wear face shields.

Amid all of the reopening plans, the number of confirmed infections continues to hit new highs in the state.

California reported 4,291 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, a new single-day record and the first time the state has broken the 4,000 barrier since the pandemic began, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker.

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Most of those — 2,129 — were in Los Angeles County, which continues to be the epicenter of the Golden State’s outbreak. Health officials said the total, a single-day high for the county, was fueled by a backlog of test results that accounted for roughly 600 of the new cases.

In the face of the growing case counts, Gov. Gavin Newsom took the dramatic step Thursday of ordering all Californians to wear face coverings while in public or high-risk settings.

“Simply put, we are seeing too many people with faces uncovered — putting at risk the real progress we have made in fighting the disease,” he said in a statement.

“California’s strategy to restart the economy and get people back to work will only be successful if people act safely and follow health recommendations.”

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State and county health officials have consistently said they expect coronavirus case counts to rise as they lift provisions of the stay-at-home order. Since the disease spreads from person to person, any contact inherently presents some risk of transmission.

Officials have instead pointed to other metrics — such as the number of COVID-19 patients who get so sick that they need to be hospitalized.

Though some parts of California are holding up well in that respect, and coronavirus hospitalizations have been relatively flat for the last six weeks statewide, other areas have seen concerning upticks.

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A recent Times analysis found an average of 91 people hospitalized in Ventura County with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections last week — the highest such number since early April and a 75% increase from each of the previous two weeks.

Orange County has experienced a 76% jump in coronavirus intensive care unit hospitalizations in the last six weeks, and the eight-county San Joaquin Valley has seen a 45% rise over that same period, data show.

State officials are monitoring particular areas of concern in 10 counties: Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Joaquin, Santa Barbara, Stanislaus and Tulare.

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In Riverside County, the state says one of the factors fueling elevated disease transmission is “potential transmission at public protests with large numbers of people in close proximity without face coverings.”

Such demonstrations sprang up throughout Southern California and the nation in recent weeks to protest the killing of George Floyd, a Black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pinned his neck down with his knee.

Though a number of health officials have come out in support of the protests — saying racism is the root cause of public health disparities that date to the nation’s founding — they also urged participants to get tested for coronavirus infection.

Health officials want you to get tested for the coronavirus if you’ve been to a protest or any large gathering where people haven’t worn masks.

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The state also cited masks, or the lack thereof, as one of the drivers behind increasing coronavirus hospitalizations in Stanislaus County.

Specifically, state officials pointed to “decreased attention to personal protection measures such as face coverings and social distancing.”

The use of masks to stem the spread of the coronavirus has emerged as an increasingly charged topic as the state reopens. Rules regarding face coverings differ from county to county, with some requiring residents to wear them in public and others only recommending the practice.

While the state’s new requirement would seem to provide some consistency, the Newsom administration did not address how it will be enforced or whether Californians who violate the order will be subject to citations or other penalties.

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The ideological battle has been particularly heated in Orange County, where the health officer resigned after weeks of attacks over her mandatory mask rules. Her replacement walked that back to a strong recommendation last week.

That hasn’t put an end to the dispute, though.

About 25 Orange County union leaders gathered on the steps of the county administration building Tuesday to urge health officials to reinstate the mask order. Their calls were largely drowned out by protesters, who crowded around them holding signs and shouting, “Hey hey, ho ho, these masks have got to go.”

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Areas that have mask requirements have also seen issues with compliance. A public health warning was issued Monday after unmasked revelers packed into bars and clubs in San Diego County’s Gaslamp Quarter over the weekend.

Times staff writers Phil Willon, Hannah Fry, Rong-Gong Lin II, Stephanie Lai, Colleen Shalby and Iris Lee contributed to this report.


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