Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Oh my heaven, on 7-11: New county health order bans indoor church services again, outdoor diners must wear masks except when eating and more

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

More than 8% of Contra Costa COVID-19 tests now positive

From Contra Costa County Health Services

Due to a sharp rise in the percentage of COVID-19 tests returning positive in the community, Contra Costa County Health Officer, Dr. Chris Farnitano today, Saturday, July 11, 2020 amended its social distancing health order to temporarily tighten face-covering requirements and prohibit indoor gatherings where there is elevated risk of spreading the virus. (See details, here and CCC Full Health Order 07-11-20)

Local data show that 8.04 percent of COVID-19 tests administered over the past seven days were positive, a sign that the virus is spreading rapidly in the county and that the community must take immediate steps to prevent our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

Contra Costa is especially concerned about the risk of COVID-19 transmission in indoor gatherings, and in gatherings that involve removing face coverings for eating and drinking.

When Contra Costa received authorization (variance) from the California Department of Public Health in June to allow the reopening of some businesses and activities, the plan we submitted indicated that an 8% testing positivity rate would trigger the review and reconsideration of reopening activities in the county.

Other indicators show COVID-19 is on the rise in Contra Costa communities. The seven-day average number of new cases identified in the county rose from 38 on June 8 to 146 on July 8, while the seven-day average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients rose from 17 to 54 during the same period. As of Saturday morning at 11:30 a.m. there are no 77 COVID-19 patients in Contra Costa County hospitals. (See more statistics on the CCHealth Coronavirus Dashboard)

The 209 adult intensive care unit beds in Contra Costa County hospitals are on average a little more than half-full on a given day, including COVID-19 patients and patients with other health concerns.

Given the rapid spread of local cases, Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) is concerned that the number of patients needing intensive care could quickly exceed capacity.

According to the new health order, indoor worship services are temporarily prohibited, effective on Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Services held earlier on Sunday, July 12, are not subject to this change.

Certain categories of outdoor gatherings, including worship services and social protests, are permitted at any size in Contra Costa so long as state health guidelines are followed, including physical distancing and appropriate use of face coverings. (State guidelines for outdoor worship services and protests)

In outdoor dining settings, staff and customers must now observe face covering requirements at all times, except when putting food or drink in the mouth. The new order also increases guidance for businesses that serve alcohol with meals to better align with state guidelines.

Members of extended family “social bubbles” must now always use face coverings when together, except when putting food or drink in the mouth.

Contra Costa County hopes to ease these enhanced, extraordinary safety measures as soon as possible, and will review available health system data daily to determine when it is safe to do so.

CCHS urges everyone to continue taking simple steps to protect themselves from COVID-19: Follow the social distancing order, and wear a face covering when you go out or are near other people. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and always stay home from work or school if you are not feeling well.

In response, the following questions were sent to Contra Costa County Health Officer Dr. Chris Farnitano, Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen and the county health communications staff:

Why are indoor church services being shut down, again?

What statistics can you show that they were the direct cause of the spike in the recent COVID-19 cases in our county? Especially since those who attend worship services have been required to social distance and wear masks while attending an indoor service.

Might it be from other activities such as swimming or a variety of other activities?

Is everyone who gets tested given a questionnaire in which they report what their activities have been for the previous 14 days? If so, can you please provide a copy of the questionnaire?

If not, how do you know and are you merely making assumptions and an arbitrary decision to once again unfairly target people of faith who have the most First Amendment protections while exercising their freedom of religion than any other activity in our nation, since they also have the freedom of peaceful assembly?

Finally, how many of the positive cases in our county are from people outside of the county being brought into our county from elsewhere?

Please check back later for answers to these questions and more.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to read the new health order, and for local information about Contra Costa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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Gov. Newsom launches “Wear A Mask” public awareness Campaign in response to surge in COVID-19 cases

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

It’s simple. Wear a mask.

Even without symptoms, you could expose others to #COVID19.Wear a mask and practice physical distancing to #SlowtheSpread and protect your loved ones. #YourActionsSaveLivesLearn more at covid19.ca.gov.

Posted by California Governor on Thursday, July 2, 2020

Multi-media campaign funded in part by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, others

SACRAMENTO — As COVID-19 cases rise throughout the state, Governor Gavin Newsom announced last week the “Wear A Mask” public awareness campaign encouraging Californians to use face coverings – one of the best ways people can protect themselves and others from the virus. The campaign is taking an aggressive approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19, which will save lives and allow the state to reopen the economy. The campaign, which will continue until at least the end of the year, will kick off in English and Spanish and then expand into other languages later this month.

“We all have a responsibility to slow the spread. It is imperative – and required – that Californians protect each other by wearing masks and practicing physical distancing when in public so we can fully reopen our economy,” said Governor Newsom. “We all need to stand up, be leaders, show we care and get this done.”

The campaign began with a statewide push ahead of the July 4th holiday weekend. Broadcast and radio PSAs are being distributed in English and Spanish with local ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, Univision, Telemundo, Ethnic Media Services, and iHeart Media affiliates. Billboards and outdoor advertisements are visible statewide in both English and Spanish thanks to ClearChannel, Lamar, VisCom Outdoor, iKahan Media, and LED Truck Media. The campaign includes a variety of shareable social media content with key messages on why and how to wear a mask.

See Behind the Mask video, here.

In the coming weeks, the campaign increasingly will focus on those who have been disproportionately harmed by this pandemic, particularly California’s Black and Latinx communities. Messages will be translated into seven languages and delivered by trusted messengers. In addition, the Listos California emergency preparedness campaign will be supporting paid media efforts and bolstering community engagement efforts.

See I Care video, here.

The “Wear a Mask” campaign received seed funding in partnership with the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, The Skoll Foundation, Rick Caruso, Tom Steyer, the CDC Foundation, and Sierra Health Foundation. It’s a continuation of the “Your Actions Save Lives” campaign that has promoted critical public health messaging throughout the pandemic, raising more than $10.75 million in cash and $27 million in in-kind partnerships with multimedia organizations and members of the Governor’s Task Force on Business and Jobs recovery. Additional cash contributions and partnerships will be announced in the coming weeks.

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UPDATE: Contra Costa updates public guidance for face coverings to match state’s

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Graphic by State of California from Gov. Newsom’s Wear a Mask campaign.

COVID-19 spreading rapidly in county; 209 new cases confirmed today

Contra Costa County today updated its health order about when and where members of the public should wear face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic to align it with current state guidance.

Local data indicate that COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in Contra Costa County. The county is currently on the California Department of Public Health’s monitoring list because of increasing numbers of COVID-19 patients in local hospitals. Today Contra Costa reports 209 new confirmed cases.

The updated order specifies that face coverings should be worn in businesses and in areas where people wait in line to enter businesses, and that everyone should wear a mask or face covering whenever they are within six feet of another person who is not a member of their household, except in very limited, industry-specific situations.

7/9/20 CORRECTION & UPDATE: People who have certain health conditions are exempt from wearing masks that fit snugly over the mouth and nose.

The order also requires businesses that are open during the pandemic to ensure their workers and volunteers wear face coverings, and to not serve or allow entry to anyone not wearing face coverings.

Persons exempted from wearing a face covering due to a medical condition who are employed in a job involving regular contact with others should wear a non-restrictive alternative, such as a face shield with a cloth drape on the bottom edge to contain coughs and sneezes., as long as their condition permits it.

“We encourage people who need an alternative to consider face shields when and how described by the state guidance, but it is not mandated by the county order,” added Contra Costa Health Services spokesman, Karl Fischer.

“We recognize there is a lot of detailed health guidance coming from state and local sources, and that can be confusing,” said Candace Andersen, chair of the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors. “With COVID-19 spreading more in our community, it is more important than ever to follow the state health guidance and wear a face covering whenever you go out.”

Face coverings, even if just cloth bandanas, help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by blocking virus-containing droplets that come out of our mouths and noses when we breath, speak, cough or sneeze. Face coverings are one of the simplest and most effective ways to slow the virus spread and allow for further re-opening of the economy. The World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and the California Department of Public Health all recommend face coverings due to emerging evidence of benefit in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

  • CDC recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
  • Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
  • Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.

——————–

CCHS encourages everyone to take simple steps to protect themselves from COVID-19: Follow the shelter-in-place order, and wear a face covering when you go out or are near other people. Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, and always stay home from work or school if you are not feeling well.

Visit cchealth.org/coronavirus to read the new health order, and for local information about Contra Costa’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In spite of Gov. Newsom’s order, churchgoers will be singing while wearing masks

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

“Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Psalm 94:8

“Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’” Acts 5:29

By Allen Payton

As part of his new statewide health orders issued on Wednesday, July 1, California Governor Gavin Newsom included a new requirement that “*Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities” during worship services. (Note: The asterisk does not refer to anything else in the document) See https://files.covid19.ca.gov/pdf/guidance-places-of-worship.pdf

Under the section entitled Considerations for Places of Worship it reads, “Discontinue singing (in rehearsals, services, etc.), chanting, and other practices and performances where there is increased likelihood for transmission from contaminated exhaled droplets.

The state’s document, entitled COVID-19 INDUSTRY GUIDANCE: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies refers to the practice of one’s faith as “personal” as if it’s not supposed to be done in public, like other activities such as protesting.

“Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations. In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing,” the document reads.

However, in response after contacting county officials, leaders of Golden Hills Community Church, one of the larger churches in Eastern Contra Costa County with campuses in Brentwood and Antioch which will hold their first in-person service in 17 weeks on Sunday, July 5, shared with their members that singing while wearing masks will be allowed.

In an email on Friday, June 3 Senior Pastor Phil Ward wrote, “This week both the state and the county announced a ban on ‘singing and chanting’ in houses of worship. Since we now have the ability to gather for in-person worship, and since singing is an essential aspect of Christian worship (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16), we found this prohibition unreasonable because it dictates what is permissible in worship. As a result, we reached out to the governing authorities to express our concern. In response, we were told that singing is permitted so long as masks are being worn—something we already planned to do.”

Although the sanctuary at their Brentwood campus has a capacity of 1,700 people and could easily accommodate 350 people while social distancing, the church will be following the limits of only 100 people per service. They will also utilize their former sanctuary, now used as a multipurpose room, which can also meet the state and county’s limitations of 100 people maximum or 25% of room capacity whichever is less. Finally, the church will be offering four services this Sunday and adding a fifth service, beginning next Saturday night, July 11.

Debate Over Following All Government Laws & Orders

International evangelist and San Francisco native Mario Murillo wrote this week in response to the governor’s order that Christians should not follow such laws or orders because they are evil and go against what God teaches His followers.

I can’t think of a worse idea than to stop praise and worship because Gavin Newsom told you to,” he wrote. “It’s time to wake up to the sad truth that California has declared war on the church. Doesn’t the Bible tell us to obey them no matter what? Absolutely not. And it is shocking how many believers do not know their Bible or have been given false teaching. There is no verse in the Bible that tells you to obey evil government or laws.”

Many believers often quote a section in the book of Romans, chapter 13, verses 1-7 to support following the government’s orders: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore, whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore, you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

However, Murillo quotes other Bible verses that offer the opposite perspective, that believers are only to follow rulers who aren’t evil and laws that aren’t evil.

“It seems to say that we are to honor government in every form, right? Wrong,” he wrote. “Lost in all the quoting of this verse on submission to government is the most important part: The description of the ruling authority.”

Murillo shares that description writing, “they are not a terror to good works” and “they praise good works.”

He also shared what Jesus said of the Pharisees in Matthew 23:3, “Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, but do not do.”

“Do what they say, but don’t partake of their hypocrisy,” Murillo explains. “Watch them for that moment when they cross the line and come between you and your God.  Just as our conscience should drive us to obey the law, we should also know when our conscience tells us not to obey an evil law.”

“Here’s when Peter reached that tipping point, speaking to those very same Pharisees,” he continues, quoting Acts 4:18-20, “So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’”

Murillo then quoted Acts 5:29 writing, “Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

Newsom’s Order is an Evil Law That Must Not Be Followed

“God not only does not endorse evil government: He will have no part in it,” Murillo continues. He then quotes Psalm 94:20 writing, “Can a corrupt throne be allied with you—a throne that brings on misery by its decrees? The wicked band together against the righteous and condemn the innocent to death.”

“There is your answer. A corrupt throne (government) cannot be allied with God,” he wrote. “In fact, evil laws are the worst form of sin. They provide legitimacy to evil.”

Murillo concludes by quoting German pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident and Christian martyr, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Wearing a Mask While Singing or Chanting Works

So, ordering followers, of at least Christianity and Judaism, to discontinue singing violates what God wants practiced during worship. As it is written in Psalms 98:4, “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise.” Therefore Governor Newsom’s order is an evil law that must not be followed. But, for safety’s sake the spirit of the order can be met by wearing masks while singing or chanting in church.

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Contra Costa County off state’s Watch List as of Friday evening

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Check marks indicate a county has fallen below the monitoring level for that criteria.

County health officials evaluating local data to determine any further business reopening

By Allen Payton

As of Friday night, according to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 website, Contra Costa County is no longer on the state’s Watch List for monitoring cases.

The state monitors three criteria, which includes elevated disease transmission with a case rate of more than 100 or a case rate of greater than 25 and positivity of more than 8%; increasing hospitalization of more than 10%, and limited hospital capacity with less than 20% of ICU beds available or less than 25% of ventilators available.

Contra Costa has fallen below the criteria which flags counties for inclusion on the watch list.

Asked if there had been an announcement about this new information since our county was included in the list as of Governor Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday, July 1, Contra Costa Health Services spokesman Karl Fischer responded, “No. Counties go on and off the watch list with some regularity, including ours.”

Asked if those businesses that were supposed to reopen on Wednesday would now be allowed to reopen on Monday, Fischer responded, “No determination has been made about changing the reopening timeline. We are evaluating the local data.”

A description of the data being monitored can be found in the Understanding the Data Being Monitored section. The data chart is updated and posted daily.

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Contra Costa residents urged to celebrate Independence Day by staying at home, to stay safe from COVID-19 on July 4th and remaining dependent on the government

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020

Contra Costa Health Services Coronavirus Dashboard statistics as of Thursday morning, July 2, 2020 at 11:30 a.m.

“the more we come together in groups, the more COVID-19 spreads in the community.” – Dr. Chris Farnitano

By Allen Payton

In a rather ironic announcement Thursday, with reports of COVID-19 spreading rapidly in many Bay Area neighborhoods, members of the Association of Bay Area Health Officers (ABAHO) representing thirteen jurisdictions, urge residents to protect themselves and the community by celebrating Independence Day while remaining at home, under what amounts to house arrest, during the July 4th holiday weekend.

The Fourth of July, the day on which we as a nation celebrate the declaration of our independence from the tyrannical rule of England’s King George III, with his oppressive regulations and taxation, is traditionally a time to celebrate with firework shows, parades and cookouts. But this year the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many community leaders cancelling public events. Gatherings with others from outside your household, such as members of the extended family, are also considered potentially risky, according to the Association of Bay Area Health Officials (ABAHO).

Health officers from across the greater Bay Area say staying home this year is a healthy choice.

“Nobody wants to be cooped up, or to miss out on the holiday,” said Dr. Chris Farnitano, Contra Costa County Health Officer, a member of ABAHO. “But the more we come together in groups, the more COVID-19 spreads in the community. And the more it spreads, the more it endangers older adults and others at high risk of serious illness.”

So, instead of merely requiring those older adults and others at high risk to stay home, he wants all of us to.

“You can spread COVID-19 even if you don’t feel that sick,” the ABAHO explained in a their press release announcement. “You can pass the disease to someone else before you have symptoms, and even if you never develop any symptoms at all. When infected people come in contact with others who are high-risk, there can be deadly consequences.”

Those deadly consequences have so far amounted to 78 deaths out of 1,115,000 residents in Contra Costa County, or one death in every 14,300 people. Currently there are a total of 41 patients with the virus in our hospitals and not all of them are from our county. At the same time, some county residents who have tested positive are in hospitals in Alameda County. In addition, according to the Contra Costa Health Services Coronavirus Dashboard, as of today at 11:30 a.m. a total of 76,139 people have been tested in our county and 3,326 have contracted the virus. The good news is, to date, 2,311 who have tested positive in Contra Costa have recovered, which means there are currently 896 residents in our county who have the virus and should be staying home under self-quarantine.

Yet because of the risks they have outlined, Bay Area health officers recommend people who are not members of the same household remain physically distant. Unless you choose to follow the county’s guidelines for sexual activity, which can be found, here and recommend that “If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible.”

According to the ABAHO, the best ways to protect yourself and slow the spread of COVID-19 include:

  • Continuing to stay home as much as possible
  • Practicing physical distancing outside the home
  • Wearing face coverings or masks when outside your home
  • Avoiding gatherings with people outside your immediate household – (even though Contra Costa allows gathering in groups of 12 people, and as many as 100 if you’re attending an outdoor or indoor worship service or protest. So, be sure if you’re number 101 or more, to please leave and either worship or protest on your own.
  • Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently
  • Staying home from work, school or daycare if you feel sick

Bay Area residents who have symptoms are also encouraged to get tested for COVID-19, and to do so immediately. Check with your local health department for more information about testing and about efforts in your community to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. For more information, please visit cchealth.org/coronavirus.

ABOUT THE ABAHO

The Association of Bay Area Health Officials (ABAHO) represents health officers and other public health professionals from thirteen jurisdictions. ABAHO coordinates and communicates regional messages to save lives, promote and protect health, prevent injury and illness, and improve wellness in the region’s diverse communities. According to an article on CaliforniaHealthLine.org “The alliance, formally called the Association of Bay Area Health Officials, was born in 1985 in the early days of the AIDS epidemic.” That article, entitled “The Inside Story Of How The Bay Area Got Ahead Of The COVID-19 Crisis”, is dated April 21, 2020 a week after Contra Costa experienced it’s peak, so far, of 44 Coronavirus patients in county hospitals on April 14.

The members of the ABAHO and other government leaders have returned us to the days before 1776 with even more oppressive regulations than those of King George, III – who still allowed the colonists to freely worship, go to work, operate their businesses (unless they were seditious newspaper publishers), earn a living, and go about their daily lives – while instilling fear into the populace about the virus, as well as by releasing inmates from federal and state prisons, and county jails, and increasing the national debt in order to keep providing unemployment payments, grants and loans (with interest, further burdening business owners) to most, but not all those who qualify and have been approved, yet who are still waiting to receive even a penny from either the state or federal government, while at the same time allowing the homeless, protesters, looters, vandals, Antifa members, and CHOP and CHAZ residents to enjoy maximum freedom, in effect guaranteeing only to them the full exercise of the freedoms enumerated in the Bill of Rights, while restricting most of the rest of us from enjoying them.

Enjoy celebrating your freedom on Saturday!

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Governor allows local governments to extend renter protections through Sept. 30, marriage licenses via videoconferencing, more

Wednesday, July 1st, 2020

SACRAMENTO — On Tuesday, June 30, 2020 California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order extending authorization for local governments to halt evictions for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through September 30. Currently Contra Costa County’s urgency ordinance preventing evictions and rent increases expires on July 15.

The order also addresses a variety of issues in response to the pandemic, by extending provisions in earlier orders which allow adults to obtain marriage licenses via videoconferencing rather than in-person during the pandemic; waive eligibility re-determinations for Californians who participate in Medi-Cal, to ensure they maintain their health coverage; suspend face-to-face visits for eligibility for foster care; and permit In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program caseworkers to continue caring for older adults and individuals with disabilities through video-conferencing assessments.

The order also extends waivers temporarily broadening the capability of counties to enroll persons into the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, allowing for self-attestation of pregnancy and conditions of eligibility, and waiving in-person identification requirements.

In addition, the order extends provisions allowing for mail-in renewals of driver’s licenses and identification cards, to limit in-person transactions at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and extends timeframes related to the payment of real estate license application and renewal fees and continuing education requirements for licensees.

The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.

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Hold that beer: Contra Costa to postpone COVID-19 reopening timeline due to spike in cases, although expected

Monday, June 29th, 2020

Decision on bars made Sunday; gyms, nail salons, bowling alleys, arcades, hotels, museums, plus massage, body waxing and tattoo businesses will also remain closed

As Contra Costa Health Services (CCHS) warned the public of the possibility on Friday, they have decided to delay the opening of businesses and activities previously planned for July 1 until the COVID-19 outbreak in Contra Costa is better contained.

The county is closely monitoring recent data showing COVID-19 activity increasing in the community, as it is statewide and throughout the country.

On Sunday, Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended that Contra Costa County, along with several other counties in the state, not reopen bars. Contra Costa is one of 15 counties on the state’s County Monitoring List. The county’s timeline had previously cleared bars (with or without food), gyms, fitness centers, personal training, massage, nail salons, tattoo, body waxing and other personal services not involving the face, indoor dining, limited indoor leisure (arcades, billiards, bowling alleys, etc.), indoor museums and hotels for tourism & individual travel to reopen July 1.

When asked Sunday about the impact of Newsom’s recommendations, Kim McCarl, Communications Assistant for Contra Costa Health Services responded, “As you know, we released a statement on Friday indicating that we would make an announcement about our timeline going forward on Monday. That is still our plan.  Bars are not currently open in Contra Costa County. We appreciate the governor’s recommendation and will certainly take it into consideration as we determine next steps. We’ll have more tomorrow.”

However, Board of Supervisors Chair Candace Andersen told KPIX5 CBS News, on Sunday that “We were slated to open them on July 1, but given the governor’s announcement, we will definitely not be opening bars on July 1st,” citing contact tracing as one of the biggest challenges. “It is very difficult in a bar where you have lots of people interacting,” she continued. “Whereas in other settings, a workplace, even a hair salon where you know who’s coming, who’s going, where you can then alert them when they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.”

Asked if she and the board had the authority to make that decision or if it was still in the hands of County Health Director Dr. Chris Farnitano and why it wasn’t shared with all the media, yesterday, Andersen responded, “I spoke with Dr. Farnitano yesterday and he told me that while we were not making a determination about the other July 1 activities until today, he was going to recommend that we follow the Governor’s guidelines regarding not opening bars. Based upon that information, I responded to the media inquiries received.”

With the sharp rise in community spread and hospitalizations, it does not make sense at this time to open additional business sectors that could further accelerate community transmission. These businesses and activities will remain closed in Contra Costa until county data indicate that the spread of the virus has slowed, as measured by at least a week of stable case numbers, hospitalizations and percent of tests that are positive. Trends will be monitored and evaluated daily.

Decision Based on Statistics

The seven-day average number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals in the county has increased by 75% from June 15 to June 29.

The seven-day average number of newly identified COVID-19 cases has increased from 38 a day to 87 a day. The percentage of COVID-19 tests that came back positive has also increased from 4% to 6%. This suggests the change is not simply due to more testing, but a true increase in community spread.

More Young People Testing Positive

We are also seeing a shift with more young people testing positive. In June, 55 percent of people testing positive in Contra Costa were 40 years and younger, 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.

Many people who carry and spread the virus have no symptoms themselves. That is why it’s important for everyone to avoid social gatherings, observe physical distancing and wear masks or face coverings when around others.

Widespread testing is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can safely reopen the economy. Testing is the only way to find out if you are carrying the virus and interrupt its spread. People can spread the virus without knowing they are sick.

While Contra Costa have seen an increase in the numbers of people being tested over the past several weeks, we highly encourage everyone who lives and works in the county to get tested, even if they have no symptoms.

This morning, CCHS opened its eighth community COVID-19 testing site at Kennedy High School in Richmond. To make an appointment for a fast, convenient, no-cost test at any site in Contra Costa, call 1-844-421-0804 or visit cchealth.org/coronavirus – online scheduling is available at most sites.

The following questions were sent to Board Chair Andersen and county health services communications staff immediately prior to publication time:

Can someone please ask Dr. Farnitano, with all the recent reopening and protests, in which many more than 100 people were in attendance and clearly not social distancing was not practiced, during the previous three weeks, wasn’t the increase in cases and percentages expected?

If so, then why punish everyone for the actions of a few?

Also, since the new cases aren’t overwhelming our hospitals and health care industry with only 38 hospitalized, today – which was the issue we were told from the beginning was the major concern in the need to flatten the curve – and we all know that cases will increase once more businesses are reopened and activities are allowed to resume, why the delay?

UPDATE: In response, McCarl wrote, “New cases are a precursor to increased hospitalizations. We’ve seen the number of people in hospital go up as the percent of tests coming back positive have gone up. The goal is to lower the percent of positive cases before they overwhelm the healthcare system. We do that by staying home, wearing face coverings, maintaining social distance and washing hands.

You are correct that we expect to see numbers go up. It’s the rate in which they are raising that concerns us. A month ago, the percent of positive tests was in the 2-3% range. As of this morning, it’s about 6%. Our goal was under 5%, the criteria for the state monitoring is 8%. The trend is concerning.

In the past three weeks, our contact tracers have identified only a very small number of people who attended any sort of large gathers. Small being low single digits. We are seeing it spread throughout the community so pointing to one group or activity gives others a false sense of security. We all have a part to play in stopping this trend.”

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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