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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Counties Throughout California Struggle with Resurgence in Coronavirus Cases

  • 2020-07-30T15:00:00.000+0000
  • California
  • Author: Melanie Cohn

As California experienced a new surge in coronavirus cases, Governor Gavin Newsom on July 13th ordered all counties in the state to close bars and indoor operations of businesses including restaurants, movie theaters, and museums. In addition to the statewide order, Newsom closed indoor operations for fitness centers, worship services, personal care services, malls, offices, hair salons, and barbershops for 30 counties on California’s monitoring list. 8 additional counties have been added to the state list since then.

In the San Diego region, the latest news as of July 30th is the county is now requiring every business to provide notice to all employees and customers when three or more cases are identified in the workplace within a span of 14 days. We anticipate this change will have wide ranging impacts to our members, as previous iterations of the order only provided recommendations regarding how employers should handle a coronavirus outbreak.

Additionally, as of July 27th workers who test positive for COVID-19 and have recovered no longer need to be tested again before safely returning to their workplace. The county’s Public Health Officer, Wilma Wooten, shared on Monday that San Diego is still on the state’s monitoring list due to a COVID-19 case rate that remains higher than what is necessary to contain the spread of the disease. In order to be removed from the state list, there cannot be more than 234 cases reported daily for 14 consecutive days; the county had 523 new diagnoses as of Monday.

Earlier in July, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a process to distribute $17 million in federal coronavirus aid funds. On July 28th, San Diego City Council voted to extend the repayment period to December 30th for residential and commercial tenants who missed rent payments because of COVID-19. The local eviction moratorium is still set to expire September 30th. The repayment extension passed with 5 council votes, so could be vetoed by Mayor Faulconer assuming it passes a second hearing.

In Los Angeles County, health officials reported 17 additional deaths and 2,039 more cases of the coronavirus on Monday, bringing the county’s total cases count to more than 174,000. Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said that average daily death rate is declining for every age group, and most steeply for those over the age of 65. The county’s seven-day positivity rate, or the average number of positive test results among all those tested in that period, stands at 8.4%, according to the California Department of Public Health. That percentage places it above the state’s safety threshold of 8% but is lower than what the county has seen in weeks prior.

Last week, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a proposal to facilitate worker-led “health councils” to monitor business compliance with public health orders. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Mark Ridley-Thomas co-authored a motion recommending that the county reach out to labor and business leaders and quickly agree on effective ways to monitor compliance with mandates to wear facial coverings, install protective shields, and disinfect workplaces.
Further up the coast, San Mateo County became the final Bay Area county to be added to the state watch list on July 29th, as the county’s 14-day rolling average has topped the state’s benchmark of 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents. On Monday it was reported that San Francisco is up to 6,022 cases, and the nine counties of the Bay Area have a total of 49,000. However, the region’s 700 new cases reported is down significantly from the 1,000 cases reported the previous week.

On Monday, Google became the first major tech company to extend its remote-work arrangement through June 2021 across the company’s headquarters in Mountain View and major offices in the US, UK, India, Brazil, and elsewhere. To address budget shortfalls, localities in the Bay Area including San Francisco (detailed below) and Oakland are considering increases in business taxes.