May 31st no longer end date for shelter-in-place in Contra Costa, will reopen on gradual basis

“It’s encouraging. We’re wanting it to continue going down. It certainly isn’t going up.” – County Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano regarding COVID-19 statistics curve in Contra Costa.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Christ Farnitano speaks during a press conference on Friday, March 20, 2020 as Dr. Rohan Radhakrishna, Deputy Health Officer, Contra Costa Health Officer waits to speak. Screenshot of YouTube video.

By Allen Payton

Due to the positive results over the past few weeks with the COVID-19 statistics in Contra Costa County, Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano issued a new order, yesterday, Monday, May 18, 2020 that went into effect, today allowing certain retail and other businesses to reopen, within certain guidelines.

But, concerns from the representative of a major retail property management company in the county, asking how it’s supposed to work raised questions.

Asked if he or his staff spoke with retail store owners or shopping center property managers about the order before issuing it and how it’s supposed to work, Dr. Farnitano replied, “We’ve been getting feedback from different stores and businesses. We haven’t specifically asked them to review this particular language. This comes from state guidelines. So, our guidelines are in line with the state’s Phase 2. They allowed it on the 8th of May, 11 days ago.”

“It may be more helpful for small retail stores that don’t have an online presence, not a larger store that does,” he added. “Like craft breweries that weren’t allowed prior, or other products that folks that people were used to going to the retail store for.”

“The other big changes are the associated manufacturing and logistics, which pretty much covers any manufacturing that wasn’t already allowed, like refineries, or agricultural product manufacturing,” Farnitano continued. “The Tesla plant in Alameda County is one example.”

“We might be going in a slightly slower pace than the state,” he shared. “But there’s less variability from one county to the next for the particular rules for a business to reopen.”

When asked if the shelter-in-place order still ends on May 31st, Dr. Farnitano answered, “the new order that was issued yesterday and went into effect, today doesn’t have an end date. That’s really not practical or the intent, which was to reevaluate the situation before that date.” (See related article)

“What we’re really doing is to make a change, give it some time to see the affects of that change, and see the impact on our matrix,” he continued. “We did that the last time two weeks ago on May 4 and because of the positive results from that we’re able to open up more.”

So, the reopening will be through a gradual, step by step process “driven by the data,” Dr. Farnitano added.

“It’s been pretty flat,” he said about the curve. “We’ve been looking at seven-day averages. We’ve been running at 10 to 15 new cases a day for the past two weeks, and 15 to 20 in the hospital, each day”

“It’s encouraging. We’re wanting it to continue going down. It certainly isn’t going up,” Dr. Farnitano stated.

Asked when will the next order for more reopening be issued,” We don’t really have a time or particular day,” he said. “We give it a couple weeks which is the incubation period for someone to be exposed and then experience symptoms.” Then they reevaluate the situation at that time.

So, we can expect another update and hopefully more reopening of businesses and activities the first week of June.

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