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California is not about to return to normal, said Dr. Mark Ghally, head of the state’s Public Health department, during the governor’s press conference today. The number of cases has yet to cease — 2,603 new cases were reported yesterday — but come Friday, more variations of the stay-at-home order will help businesses and some counties reopen to a certain extent.
Among the changes expected on Friday among nonessential businesses is the pickup of merchandise at retail stores, possible deliveries, and greater distance between people at manufacturing sites — as long as they have appropriate plans for social distancing and protections in place for patrons and employees, said Governor Gavin Newsom. He mentioned gloves and masks among them, as well as outdoor break rooms with spaced-out seating. Businesses were well aware of the need for customer confidence, said Newsom. “Being open doesn’t mean your customers or workers will show up,” he said, unless they could be certain they won’t come down with a disease that has killed 2,500 people in his state. “None of us want to erase the gains of the past many weeks.”
By next Tuesday, more guidelines will be issued for restaurants, outdoor museums, car washes, shopping malls, and other businesses that cannot telecommute, Newsom said. He also stated more information would be released soon about the state’s budget. The onetime surplus of $21 billion has been wiped out by the estimated $54.3 billion deficit caused by the COVID crisis.
In the past few days, about six rural counties in California’s northeast corner either opened or asked the state for permission to do so. Ghally stated that it remained up to each county’s public health officer and board of supervisors to meet the state’s criteria for reopening. That included one case per every 10,000 persons in the past 14 days, no COVID death in two weeks, 1.5 tests per every thousand residents, and 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents. Other criteria, to be posted at the CDPH website, included a 35 percent surge capacity at hospitals, and the ability to get enough personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical staff. Included in the PPE requirement were for the staff and residents of large groups of people living together, such as nursing homes and prisons.
At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor. Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.