Los Angeles County will remain on lockdown until at least next month.

On Friday, health officials announced they had extended the order through May 15—a move that comes just nine days before the original order was set to expire. Under the mandate, all non-essential businesses in the region must remain closed and all residents are urged to avoid leaving their homes unless performing essential tasks.

According to data published by the Los Angeles Times, LA County had more than 8,400 confirmed coronavirus cases and 242 deaths, as of Friday. Health officials noted the social distancing measures have drastically slowed the spread of the deadly disease, as the infection and death rates have decreased within the past week. LA Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed Friday marked the fifth day in a row the area had reported a single-digit increase in COVID-19 cases, which was, of course, great news for one of California's hardest-hit regions. So, why the extension? Official said that in order to continue the trend, it was vital for the lockdown to continue for at least another month.

"If you were to reduce physical distancing to the pre-health officer order levels, virtually all individuals in Los Angeles County, 95.6 percent per the model, would be infected by the pandemic by Aug. 1, 2020," said Christina Ghaly, the county's director of health services. "That number is starkly reduced, down to about 30 percent, if we maintain the current levels of physical distancing."

Officials did not indicate when the order could be eased, but said the restriction might stay in place until the summer.

"Everybody wishes we could answer that and answer it definitively, and we can’t. We do know that we will reopen," said Barbara Ferrer, director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "We do know that we will be lifting some of the restrictions and we do hope that we’re able to take a hard look this summer at what makes sense for us to be relaxing, in terms of some of the closures right now that are making it impossible, for example, for some people to get back to work. But it really does depend on the data."

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