MARTINEZ (CBS SF) — Health authorities in Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties are reassessing their timelines to continue reopening sectors of the economy because of data showing an increasing spread of coronavirus cases.
Changes to the Contra Costa reopening timeline would affect businesses and activities scheduled to resume July 1, including indoor dining, bars, gyms, hotels and some personal care services, including nail salons and tattoo parlors.
The two counties are among 15 counties in California that have been put on a state watch list for “targeted engagement” and additional resources from the state to manage its pandemic response. One of the counties on the watch list is Imperial County, which has been advised to roll back its phased reopening plans back to the original stay-at-home order because of the surge in COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
Both Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties are reporting increases in hospitalizations. In Contra Costa, the rise is parallel to a rise in community transmission as residents move away from shelter in place and resume more normal routines, state health authorities said.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
In Santa Clara County, drivers of the increased hospitalization may include increased testing of residents and individuals from neighboring counties who seek care in the county, transfers from long term care facilities and increased transmission among residents or individuals from neighboring counties, according to the state.
Contra Costa Health Services said in a statement Friday it would evaluate whether the county should continue its current reopening timeline, due to recent data. During the last week the number of COVID-19 patients in the county increased 42 percent, while the seven day average of cases has increased from 39 a day to 68 a day, county health services said.
“The positivity rate of test results – the percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive – has also increased,” said a statement from county health services. “This suggests the change is not simply due to more testing, but indicates a true increase in community spread.”
Contra Costa County also reported a shift toward more young people testing positive, with 55 percent of cases in June among those 40 years and under compared to 38 percent for that group in April.
“It’s a sign that younger people are playing a major role in driving the increase in new cases and potentially infecting vulnerable individuals,” said a statement from the county. “This highlights why it’s important for everyone to avoid social gatherings, observe physical distancing and wear masks or face coverings when around others.”
“I think seniors are doing a great job, I don’t see a lot of young people with masks on. That’s really a concern,” observed Jane Emanuel in downtown Walnut Creek.
“It’s really important to be with your friends and be with people, and we’re all feeling starved for that,” said Emanuel. “But, for the greater good, we have to be really super cautious.”
“I was hoping for it,” said Chef Dave of Haute Stuff Cafe in Martinez of the possible pause in reopenings. “But to be honest, I’ve been expecting delays based on what I’ve seen going on in the other states around here.”
After four months in the takeout business, Chef Dave said while he would like to get his tables back on July 1st, he also understands a pause.
“I’m worried about my health, my employees’ health also,” he said. “And if people aren’t healthy coming in here, and sitting in here, contaminating other people. So I do have a big concern about that.”
Santa Clara County Public Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody said in a statement that a new health order was being developed and would be released by the middle of next week.
“I anticipate issuing a new order next week that will mark the end of our sector-specific strategy and the beginning of a new phase, where many activities will be allowed to resume with appropriate risk reduction measures in place,” said Cody. “And of course, many high-risk activities simply cannot safely resume here or elsewhere anytime soon.”
Cody said while the prevalence of COVID-19 in Santa Clara County remains much lower than other places thanks to the efforts and sacrifices of residents, the reopenings still be measured against the evolving data.
“As we finalize our next steps, we must also acknowledge the reality that many of the businesses and activities that remain closed in our county are now open elsewhere, and our residents and businesses owners are anxious for many of these activities to resume here as well,” said Cody. “But we must also ensure that when people engage in these activities, here and in surrounding communities, they are doing so as safely as possible and with proper guardrails in place.”
San Francisco and Marin counties on Friday went ahead and announced pauses in their next scheduled reopenings. In San Francisco, the reopening of certain businesses set for June 29 such as hair salons, barbers, museums, zoos and tattoo parlors would be delayed.
In Marin, a June 29 reopening for hotels, gyms, and personal services such as nail salons, tattoo parlors and skin care businesses would be paused, while other businesses including indoor dining, hair salons, camping and outdoor vehicle-based gatherings would be allowed.