During the last few days, there have been exceedingly optimistic signs that Wuhan Coronavirus death rates and hospitalizations are declining and the country is regaining its robust economic health as well.

California’s Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a strenuous shutdown program in mid-March, much to the chagrin of lower-population areas that had few recorded cases of infections. Two counties in those less populated areas ditched some of the intense restrictions, reopening “high risk” businesses about a month ago.

Yuba and Sutter counties moved to reopen dine-in restaurants, hair salons, gyms, and other social spots in which “distancing” can be difficult to maintain. After doing so, the county officials were accused of putting the population in jeopardy.

Thirty days later, their businesses are going strong, and there is no evidence that the reopening caused a spike in cases or hospitalizations.

…The health officer for the two counties, Dr. Ngoc-Phuong Luu, crafted a health order that allowed restaurants, personal care services, gyms, libraries, shopping malls and several other businesses that fall into “Stage 3” of the state’s reopening plan to reopen on May 4 — so long as businesses implement safety measures such as mask mandates and six feet of physical distancing between customers. Bars, nightclubs, places of worship and other sites for large gatherings remained closed.

The two rural Northern California counties have a combined population of close to 175,000 and recorded 50 coronavirus cases and three deaths on May 1. As of June 4, the case total has increased to 79, but the death toll remains three. There are currently two individuals hospitalized due to COVID-19 in the two counties at this time.

Russ Brown, a spokesperson for Yuba County, told SFGATE the health department believes the case increases are mostly due to increased testing, and contact tracers have worked to prevent further spread even as many sectors of the local economy are online.

“As far as cases go, on the exact same day our health order was issued, a new testing site came into the area so we always expected to capture more cases,” he said. “That’s exactly what happened, so nothing unexpected.”

There have been new infections since the county reopened, but Brown stated that contract tracing has found that almost all of the new cases are a result of close at-home contact with infected individuals, as opposed to transmission at restaurants, gyms, salons and other reopened businesses.

“Nearly all of new cases are coming from known cases, either household members, extended family, or people who made visits to the infected person,” Brown said. “That seems to be the pattern so far.”

Now, the rest of the state is following:

California officials said Friday that counties could begin reopening gyms, day camps, bars and some professional sports by as early as next Friday, but specifics remain unclear.

The state said it would release more detailed guidelines later in the day. Officials stressed that such reopenings would be based on local conditions. Rural counties where COVID-19 has been less of a problem will likely be able to reopen much quicker.

“By far and away the most important thing is for county and local officials to use the state’s guidance and consider it in light of their own data, and their own trends,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services.

In other words, COVID-theater is likely to continue, even though the curve has been flattened for quite some time and our hospitals are not at risk of being overwhelmed by patients requiring ventilators or other treatments.

However, California does have one trouble spot. It is Los Angeles County, which has had its share of infectious disease problems related to homelessness for quite some time.

Los Angeles County reported 59 additional coronavirus deaths Wednesday, but amid those grim numbers was a glimmer of hope: the disease is claiming fewer lives and fewer people are being hospitalized even though more people are testing positive.

The region has languished for weeks with a stubborn infection rate that refuses to drop even as other parts of the country see a steady decline in new COVID-19 cases. While infection rates plateau, the decline in the number of people dying is an encouraging sign as the county eases shutdown orders and reopens shops and businesses.

Los Angeles County still represents roughly half of the coronavirus cases and deaths in the state, but the death rate is declining, County public health director Barbara Ferrer said. “We feel very confident, and we feel very confident because all of the work everybody has already done to get us here. Hospitalizations are down. Deaths are down. The number of cases is up but that’s a good thing … because it means a lot more people are getting tested, but our positivity rate is also down.

Despite this issue, Newsom is reopening Hollywood, too.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday revealed guidelines as film and television productions resume in Hollywood — after months of lockdown due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

“Music, TV and film production may resume in California, recommended no sooner than June 12, 2020 and subject to approval by county public health officers within the jurisdictions of operations following their review of local epidemiological data including cases per 100,000 population, rate of test positivity, and local preparedness to support a health care surge, vulnerable populations, contact tracing and testing.

‘To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, productions, cast, crew and other industry workers should abide by safety protocols agreed by labor and management, which may be further enhanced by county public health officers. Back office staff and management should adhere to Office Workspace guidelines published by the California Department of Public Health and the California Department of Industrial Relations, to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.”

Expect many new films and TV shows to feature deadly viruses, wise bureaucrats, and evil, virus-denying villains.

 

 
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