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Counties have latitude on when to reopen, Newsom says

Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated Friday that county public health departments will have a large amount of latitude in reopening their economies amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Individual counties will have the resources from the state to make the decision to reopen their economies on their respective timelines, Newsom said during his daily briefing Friday.

Testing capacity statewide has increased north of 50,000 tests per day. More than 1.8 million coronavirus tests have been conducted since the pandemic began in mid-March, including more than 700,000 in the last 14 days.

As a result, an average of 4.1% of those tests in the last 14 days and 4.2% in the last seven days have been positive, both of which Newsom characterized as a good sign.

"That's a relatively stable number," Newsom said of the average test positivity rate. "And it's a much lower number than many states."

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As the pandemic continues, Newsom said the state has procured a relative abundance of personal protective equipment, including about 86 million procedure masks, 8 million face shields and 5.6 million gloves for healthcare workers across the state.

The state is also bulking up its ability to investigate and trace new cases through its partnership with UCLA and the University of California at San Francisco to train thousands of contact tracers.

State officials aim to have some 10,000 tracers in the field by July 1 with the capacity to trace 3,600 new coronavirus cases per day. The state's 58 counties and three cities with separate health departments have roughly 3,000 contact tracers already in the field who previously traced illnesses like tuberculosis and measles.

Newsom said that state public health officials will make their determinations on how counties can begin to reopen their economies based on factors like testing and tracing capacity, hospital surge capacity and the stockpile of protective equipment.

However, once counties have that guidance on how to reopen, Newsom said they can decide when to allow businesses like hair salons and dine-in restaurants to resume operations.

"The state is not dictating, is not mandating those dates," Newsom said, using the Bay Area as an example of a region reopening its economy at a different pace from other parts of the state. "The state puts out the sectoral guidance and allows for a deliberative process to be put into place by counties and that's why you see variation up and down the state of California."

Of the state's 58 counties, 48 have filed attestation forms with the California Department of Public Health, asserting that they meet minimum standards to reopen and have containment plans if the virus has a second wave.

Counties with approved attestation forms can move further into the process of reopening their economies than other counties that have yet to stem the spread of the virus. In the Bay Area, only Napa and Solano counties have applied for and received state clearance to reopen businesses like dine-in restaurants, car washes, pet groomers and outdoor museums and shopping malls.

"The distance between Imperial (County) to Lassen (County) is about that from Vermont to Virginia," California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. "And nobody would expect Vermont and Virginia to behave the same. They aren't."

As of Friday, health officials across the state have confirmed 103,886 coronavirus cases, including 4,068 deaths. In addition, 1,078 people are in intensive care due to the virus and 3,016 are currently hospitalized across the state.

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Counties have latitude on when to reopen, Newsom says

Uploaded: Sat, May 30, 2020, 6:06 pm
Updated: Sun, May 31, 2020, 7:32 pm

Gov. Gavin Newsom reiterated Friday that county public health departments will have a large amount of latitude in reopening their economies amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Individual counties will have the resources from the state to make the decision to reopen their economies on their respective timelines, Newsom said during his daily briefing Friday.

Testing capacity statewide has increased north of 50,000 tests per day. More than 1.8 million coronavirus tests have been conducted since the pandemic began in mid-March, including more than 700,000 in the last 14 days.

As a result, an average of 4.1% of those tests in the last 14 days and 4.2% in the last seven days have been positive, both of which Newsom characterized as a good sign.

"That's a relatively stable number," Newsom said of the average test positivity rate. "And it's a much lower number than many states."

As the pandemic continues, Newsom said the state has procured a relative abundance of personal protective equipment, including about 86 million procedure masks, 8 million face shields and 5.6 million gloves for healthcare workers across the state.

The state is also bulking up its ability to investigate and trace new cases through its partnership with UCLA and the University of California at San Francisco to train thousands of contact tracers.

State officials aim to have some 10,000 tracers in the field by July 1 with the capacity to trace 3,600 new coronavirus cases per day. The state's 58 counties and three cities with separate health departments have roughly 3,000 contact tracers already in the field who previously traced illnesses like tuberculosis and measles.

Newsom said that state public health officials will make their determinations on how counties can begin to reopen their economies based on factors like testing and tracing capacity, hospital surge capacity and the stockpile of protective equipment.

However, once counties have that guidance on how to reopen, Newsom said they can decide when to allow businesses like hair salons and dine-in restaurants to resume operations.

"The state is not dictating, is not mandating those dates," Newsom said, using the Bay Area as an example of a region reopening its economy at a different pace from other parts of the state. "The state puts out the sectoral guidance and allows for a deliberative process to be put into place by counties and that's why you see variation up and down the state of California."

Of the state's 58 counties, 48 have filed attestation forms with the California Department of Public Health, asserting that they meet minimum standards to reopen and have containment plans if the virus has a second wave.

Counties with approved attestation forms can move further into the process of reopening their economies than other counties that have yet to stem the spread of the virus. In the Bay Area, only Napa and Solano counties have applied for and received state clearance to reopen businesses like dine-in restaurants, car washes, pet groomers and outdoor museums and shopping malls.

"The distance between Imperial (County) to Lassen (County) is about that from Vermont to Virginia," California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said. "And nobody would expect Vermont and Virginia to behave the same. They aren't."

As of Friday, health officials across the state have confirmed 103,886 coronavirus cases, including 4,068 deaths. In addition, 1,078 people are in intensive care due to the virus and 3,016 are currently hospitalized across the state.

— Bay City News Service

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