These California counties reopened ‘high-risk’ businesses a month ago. Here’s what happened…

SF Gate:

  • As of June 4, the case total has increased to 79, but the death toll remains three. The case increases are mostly due to increased testing,
  • Almost all of the new cases are a result of close at-home contact with infected individuals, as opposed to transmission at restaurants, gyms, salons and other reopened businesses.

After Yuba and Sutter counties moved to reopen dine-in restaurants, hair salons, gyms and other “high-risk” businesses with modifications on May 4, California Governor Gavin Newsom strongly condemned the bi-county health jurisdiction for defying the statewide shelter-in-place order.

“They’re making a big mistake,” he said during a press conference. “They’re putting their public at risk. They’re putting our progress at risk.”

It’s been a full month since the revised order took effect, and the counties would certainly push back on the idea that reopening was a “big mistake.”

The health officer for the two counties, Dr. Ngoc-Phuong Luu, crafted a health order that allowed restaurants, personal care services, gyms, libraries, shopping malls and several other businesses that fall into “Stage 3” of the state’s reopening plan to reopen on May 4 — so long as businesses implement safety measures such as mask mandates and six feet of physical distancing between customers. Bars, nightclubs, places of worship and other sites for large gatherings remained closed.

The two rural Northern California counties have a combined population of close to 175,000 and recorded 50 coronavirus cases and three deaths on May 1. As of June 4, the case total has increased to 79, but the death toll remains three. There are currently two individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the two counties at this time.

Russ Brown, a spokesperson for Yuba County, told SFGATE the health department believes the case increases are mostly due to increased testing, and contact tracers have worked to prevent further spread even as many sectors of the local economy are online.

“As far as cases go, on the exact same day our health order was issued, a new testing site came into the area so we always expected to capture more cases,” he said. “That’s exactly what happened, so nothing unexpected.”

There have been new infections since the county reopened, but Brown stated that contract tracing has found that almost all of the new cases are a result of close at-home contact with infected individuals, as opposed to transmission at restaurants, gyms, salons and other reopened businesses.

Read more at SF Gate

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