New CA guidelines to allow most counties to relax stay at home orders, open restaurant dining rooms

Newsom said that the changes come as California's hospitalization rates for coronavirus patients has steadily declined. Staff KFSN logo
Tuesday, May 19, 2020
New CA guidelines to allow most counties to relax stay at home orders
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California Gov. Gavin Newsom is relaxing reopening criteria, a move he said will allow most of the state's 58 counties to begin allowing dining in restaurants and other services.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Empty tables at restaurants may not stay that way much longer.

On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom issued more relaxed state guidelines that would allow counties to move further along in the reopening phase.

Fresno County is hoping to be one of them.

Twenty-four counties, including Mariposa County, have already won approval under the old guidance.

"Fresno County is not as impacted as many other counties in California," says Nathan Magsig, Fresno County Supervisor. "We believe the governor is going to allow us to move further into stage 2."

Magsig, along with the rest of the board, sent a letter to the state on Friday, telling them Fresno County is ready to move forward with opening businesses.

"We are still waiting to hear back," he said. "I believe all businesses, restaurants, people who cut hair, they're all essential, and we will do everything we can to get them back to work."

Under the new guidelines, counties must have no more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents or no higher than an 8% positive rate among people testing for the coronavirus. They also must have no higher than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over a 7-day period or fewer than 20 hospitalizations total over 14 days. The latter will ensure small counties don't get penalized for just one or two extra hospitalizations.

"With the seven cases each day within a two-week period, that's going to be challenging because we have 40 to 50 cases every day," says Fresno County health officer Dr. Rais Vohra.

Fresno City officials are hoping to help and are proposing to commit millions of dollars to the county to ramp up testing

"We're going to help the county get to that point and commit $10 million and have enough contact tracing, which is the requirement for variance," says councilmember Luis Chavez.

It wasn't immediately clear which counties are eligible under the new rules, but Newsom did say that some counties were not ready due to the outbreaks at nursing homes or packing plants. He listed Tulare County and Kings County as examples.

Newsom also added that even if a county is allowed some variance in the stay-at-home order, if there is a surge in cases, the counties must be ready to close businesses to protect public health.

Until then, tables remain empty, but Fresno County officials hope to hear from the state on Tuesday.

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