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Public Policy Newsletter Article

COVID-19 Cases See a Recent Fall, Counties Proceed Cautiously

  • 2020-08-27T15:00:00.000+0000
  • California
  • Author: Melanie Cohn

Some local jurisdictions in California have experienced a drop in COVID-19 cases over the past few weeks. Thirty-eight counties were on the state watch list a month ago, and thirty-five counties now remain on the list, with several being slated for removal soon.

San Diego County was removed from the list on August 18th, and Napa, Orange, Calaveras, Mono and Sierra counties were removed from the watch list over the weekend.

Being removed from the state watch list does not immediately allow counties to open more widely. Indoor operations at nail salons, barbershops and fitness centers, among other businesses, must remain closed until the state’s top health officer revises the order that spells out the rules for the watchlist.

To be removed from the list, a county must show that fewer than 100 people per 100,000 have tested positive for the virus, the rate at which people test positive for the virus is below 8%, and the number of people hospitalized has not climbed more than 10% over a three-day period. In addition, more than 20% of intensive care beds in hospitals and 25% of ventilators must be available.

The California Department of Public Health has a watch list of counties that are being monitored for worsening coronavirus trends. In each case, the state is working with local health departments to identify the source of the problem and assist as needed.

Biocom staff continues to monitor local orders, as counties attempt to strike a balance between following state guidelines and identifying their own procedures. For example, on July 29th San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher announced a change in the county’s Public Health Order effective at midnight that same day. Whereas the county previously had only recommendations regarding how companies should handle employee notification of a coronavirus outbreak, companies were then required to notify all site employees and the county of an outbreak (3+ cases) at any facility.