.Covid-19 Economic Restrictions Expected to Remain in Place

The economic restrictions imposed on various Santa Cruz County businesses by the state are not expected to be loosened this week, according to Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland.

That’s despite the fact that the county will have spent 14 days off the state’s Covid-19 data monitoring list as of Thursday, Aug. 27, which was previously the state benchmark counties hoping to reopen swaths of their economy had to meet. Santa Cruz County was removed from the state monitoring list on Aug. 14.

Hyland said the county has received no indication that the state would allow its personal care industries, such as barbershops, beauty salons, skincare, cosmetology, nail services and massage therapy, among others, to reopen their indoor services this week. Gyms, places of worship and shopping malls are also expected to remain closed.

That reopening pause might be good news, as Hyland said county health officials believe the number of Covid-19 cases could rise in two to three weeks because of the people packing the various evacuations shelters set up to aid victims of the CZU Lightning Complex fire

A new set of reopening guidelines is expected to be released Friday, Aug. 28, from Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health for counties that have come off the state monitoring list. Those updated procedures have been created with the industries that have closed their doors to slow the spread of Covid-19, Newsom said at a Monday press conference.

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He gave few details about the new guidance, saying that he wanted to “respect the process” the state was engaged in with various industry leaders. 

Santa Cruz County was initially placed on the state monitoring list July 27 after new Covid-19 cases started rising.

Newsom on Monday said the state’s positivity rate, hospitalizations and ICU visits have declined over the past seven days. Santa Cruz County has seen a declining positivity rate in that same time, according to county data.

Hyland said shelters are following strict physical distancing and disinfection protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department. They are also tracking every person—volunteer, visitor or evacuee—that steps foot through their doors.

The county is weighing the possibility of conducting Covid-19 testing at evacuation centers that stay open past this week, Hyland added.

On Wednesday, Newsom announced the state signed a contract with a diagnostics company that will allow for processing an additional 150,000 Covid-19 tests per day. The goal is to “begin processing tens of thousands of additional tests” by Nov. 1 and run at full capacity ­no later than March 1, 2021, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

Newsom visited multiple Santa Cruz County shelters over the weekend and said he was impressed with the preventative measures they were taking. Those measures included a temperature check, a thorough health assessment and a mandatory mask policy.

Newsom said the state over the next few days would implement more precautions such as ordering and distributing additional air purifiers to shelters, and expanding deals with various hotels to increase the number of non-congregate shelter options. On Monday, he said nearly 1,500 evacuees were staying in 31 hotels across the state.

“We’re taking this very, very seriously,” he said.


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Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. He is a Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus.
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