Following the release of additional guidance from the California Department of Public Health last Friday, additional businesses and activities from Stages 2 and 3 may reopen in Placer County as soon as June 12, after implementing guidance and developing safety plans to address COVID-19.
Businesses and activities eligible for reopening include:
- Schools and school-based programs
- Day camps
- Hotels, lodging and short-term rentals (for tourism and individual travel)
- Campgrounds, RV parks and outdoor recreation
- Professional sports without live audiences
- Music, film and television production
- Gyms and fitness centers, including pools
- Family entertainment centers
- Zoos, museums, galleries and aquariums
- Bars and wineries; and
- Cardrooms and racetracks
Businesses in these sectors should carefully read the guidance issued by the state available on the Reopen Placer website and develop corresponding safety plans. Once those safety plans are completed, eligible businesses may reopen on or after June 12 without further approval of the Placer County Health Officer. Guidance was also issued for casinos, which are under the jurisdiction of sovereign nations, and childcare guidance was updated.
“While more businesses will come back online at the end of this week, I implore county residents to continue following practices that can slow the rate of infection, such as regular handwashing, staying six feet apart from others and wearing face coverings in public settings where physical distancing is not possible,” said Placer County Health Officer Dr. Aimee Sisson. “Personal responsibility is a hallmark of Placer County, and our individual actions will go a long way to determining how well we are able to reduce the spread of coronavirus in our community.”
The state has not released guidance for a handful of other businesses still closed, such as nail salons, tattoo parlors and body waxing; indoor playgrounds such as bounce centers, ball pits and laser tag; live theater; saunas and steam rooms; nightclubs; concert venues; festivals; theme parks; and higher education. Nor has guidance been provided for youth sports. If the state has not yet released guidance for a sector, then that sector cannot yet be reopened at the local level. Officials in counties with attestations determine when specific sectors of their economy can reopen if state guidance has been posted. It is up to the local jurisdiction to make decisions regarding reopening specific sectors based upon the epidemiology and readiness of the county.
Placer County’s COVID-19 cases have increased recently, including a 35% rise in the past week. The 7-day average testing positivity rate has increased from 1% to 3% as of the latest reporting period, indicating that increased cases are not merely the result of increased testing, but this rate remains below a threshold of 8% that has been identified by the California Department of Public Health. Placer County hospitals continue to have adequate capacity, including available critical care beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment. Placer County’s other data have not met any of the triggers outlined in the local attestation, nor the state’s new monitoring indicators, as shown in today’s health officer presentation.
The vast majority of new cases have been in people younger than 65. There have been a few clusters of cases – several in one family related to international travel, several in fast-food workers as well as cases in the Auburn Jail. In an environment of community transmission, it is difficult to pinpoint where and how someone became infected with a virus that has an incubation period of up to two weeks and that can be transmitted by people without symptoms. For most cases, a precise infection source cannot be determined.
“We knew before reopening began that cases of COVID-19 would increase as the county reopened. We made clear in our attestation in May that our goals were to avoid overwhelming the health care system and to protect vulnerable populations,” said Sisson. “My team will watch the case rate metric closely in the coming days and weeks, as it is cause for concern. Should Placer County’s data not meet the state-defined cutoff, I will engage our Board of Supervisors and the California Department of Public Health to identify what is driving increases and identify action steps for addressing issues that impact areas of concern.”
While county health officials continue to monitor data, the Board of Supervisors today directed County Executive Officer Todd Leopold to prepare a letter to the governor and state health officials requesting guidance be released for the remaining businesses in stage 3 that don’t have permission to open at the end of this week.
“We are hopeful the governor will provide us with the guidance we are requesting,” said District 5 Supervisor Cindy Gustafson. “Our county leadership has demonstrated prudence and wisdom throughout this crisis, and has complied with the state’s guidance throughout the stay-at-home order and reopening.”
Youth sports stirred many members of the community to provide public comment during today’s discussion. Most advocated on behalf of allowing the outdoor activity that is currently not permitted by the governor.
“It’s very frustrating to tell our parents their kids cannot go outdoors and play soccer and baseball or participate in organized sports. We are taking precautions to protect our vulnerable populations, but we also need to protect the health of our young people and being cooped up inside all day long is not healthy for anyone,” said Board Chair Bonnie Gore. “Our residents need to contact the governor to let him know our kids need to be playing outside. He needs to hear from all of us.”