Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday cleared a key barrier for Yolo County to reopen restaurants, stores, offices and limited other venues. Previously, they could not reopen if the county had experienced a death in the past two weeks resulting from COVID—Yolo County last Tuesday suffered two deaths.
On Monday, that requirement disappeared from the state’s list of criteria, with Governor Newsom stating at his noon briefing that they have modified those requirements, focusing more on a county’s ability to maintain control of the spread of the virus.
Yolo County has had just 11 new cases in the last two weeks, but it has had four deaths, two of which were outside of the nursing home.
If Yolo County did reopen there would be strict rules on social distancing and wearing of masks.
Large segments would still remain closed.
Among the activities not permitted:
A variety of personal services like hair, nail and other salons, tattoo parlors, as well as gyms and fitness studios.
Hospitality services like bars, as well as wineries, tasting rooms and lounges.
Entertainment venues such as movie theaters, and also indoor museums, gallery spaces and even zoos and libraries.
Community centers, public pools, playgrounds, and picnic areas would remain closed—although a case could probably be made for playgrounds and picnic areas to reopen with some regulations.
Religious services and other cultural ceremonies would be remains closed. Also still closed would be nightclubs, concert venues, live audience sports, festivals, theme parks—basically anything that has large groups of people gathering would remain closed.
Finally, still closed would be hotels and lodging for the purpose of leisure and tourism.
At noon yesterday, Governor Newsom noted that he is in the process of preparing to announce statewide orders in the coming weeks which would allow in-store retail shopping, and allow barbers and salons to open as well as professional sporting events without spectators. At this point, we are still several weeks away from things like getting haircuts at salons and going to churches with large numbers of people.
Yolo County was already in the process of appealing to the state under the old rules, arguing that the deaths suffered were not an indication of large numbers of new infections.
Yolo County now believes they meet state standards to move into phase 2 of economic reopening. That would move Yolo ahead of large coastal counties like Los Angeles and San Francisco, which are not only taking more cautious routes, but are still facing severe impacts—particular Los Angeles County which has experienced 12,000 new cases over the last two weeks, one of five counties which has added more than 100 cases per 100,000 people.
During the press conference, Governor Newsom said he believes that the new criteria would allow 53 of the state’s 58 counties to move more quickly to reopen without running afoul with the stay-at-home orders. Already, 24 smaller counties have begun to reopen.
These moves in California come as many states are moving to re-open at various speeds, even as the death toll has surpassed 90,000 and experts are warning that reopening too quickly could lead to a second wave of infections, further delaying any ultimate return to normalcy.
Ultimately, the key to really returning to normal is linked to the development of a vaccine.
The good news on that front is that a drug maker, Moderna, announced Monday that they had reached a new milestone in the testing of a vaccine. Their initial results on the first vaccine attempted on human subjects showed the vaccine to be safe and to stimulate an immune response against the virus.
That was enough to send stocks soaring on Monday, but the reality is, even now, the vaccine will not arrive quickly. Reports note that Moderna has run successful tests on just eight people, ages 18 to 55. They have not tested them on older patients, considered most vulnerable to the virus, and the results do not yet prove that the vaccine will prevent people from getting sick.
—David M. Greenwald reporting