Fresno City Council postpones decision on masks just before Gov. Newsom issues order

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Governor Gavin Newsom gave a statewide order for wearing masks Thursday for everyone in public or high-risk settings.

The order includes while you're shopping, taking public transportation, or going to the doctor.

RELATED: California issues statewide order to wear face coverings in high-risk settings

The Fresno City Council tabled an emergency order amendment Thursday that would've required masking at businesses and government facilities - indoor or outdoor.

The protective measure had been a flashpoint in the Valley and it came up today at City Hall as well.

Fresno County set a record high for new coronavirus cases last week despite not testing as much as it had in weeks prior.

This week's numbers are even higher and the rate of deaths is not slowing either - 511 new cases and ten new deaths by Thursday with positive test results coming in just under 10% of all tests.

The county's health officer says it's not a surprise as businesses started to reopen, but doctors don't know when to expect the virus to slow down.

"I think my crystal ball is broken in that and this disease is truly novel," said Dr. Michael Peterson, associate dean at UCSF Fresno. "And whereas most respiratory viruses begin to die out in the summer months, this one clearly is not. So I don't think we can look towards anything that it's going to go down significantly without the continued efforts within the community."
Doctors now say social distancing and wearing masks are the best ways to slow the spread.

The city of Fresno required masks inside buildings when they started phasing in reopenings.

But city council members say some people seem to forget the pandemic is still with us.

"I've seen some pictures that were pretty troublesome this past weekend," said Council Member Luis Chavez.

"I would like to point out Bobby Salazar's, The Standard, and other restaurants that clearly are violating any social distancing and any protective steps," said City Council President Miguel Arias.

Code enforcement will check on restaurants and bars mentioned by council members.

Three bar owners admitted to Action News they've had big crowds and social distancing has been hard to enforce.

And they say the rules are tough to follow.
Council member Garry Bredefeld called the requirements "insanity" and objected to new rules proposed by Council Member Nelson Esparza.

He tried to streamline the rules Thursday, amending the city's emergency order to require masks in almost every work situation where physical distancing is difficult.

That includes outdoor work like construction but only when people are in close contact.

"We just don't know," said Esparza. "The asymptomatic component of this is what's really complicated controlling this disease."

Losing control could lead to consequences beyond the increasing numbers of sick and dying people.

The governor mentioned a possible return to "stay at home" orders and the city council president had similar thoughts related to crowded and uncontrolled Fresno businesses.

"If they're irresponsible in their openings, it puts the whole city's reopening plan at risk and the last thing we want is to have to turn the key back," said Arias.

The state masking order took effect shortly after the city council postponed its masking decision.

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