Updated 6:40 p.m.
California is easing restrictions for counties to re-open restaurants and shopping centers as hospitalizations decline and the state ramps-up testing for the virus.
Gov. Gavin Newsom estimated 53 of the state’s 58 counties would be allowed to modify the stay-at-home order under the new standard, which he detailed on Monday — though he cautioned that “not everyone will move into this phase.”
“The Bay Area is in a different position than some parts of the state,” he said. “L.A. County is in a different position than other parts of the state. They can move at their own pace based upon their own local conditions.”
This new criteria focus more pointedly on downtrending hospitalization rates and the spread of the virus within communities. Counties with more than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents over 14 days, or more than an 8% test-positive rate, will not be allowed to move deeper into what has been deemed “Stage 2.”
Counties must also present plans for containing outbreaks within their communities and within nursing facilities. A quarter of coronavirus-related deaths in California have been nursing facility residents.
The previous requirement that a county have zero deaths related to COVID-19, a hurdle for many larger counties, appears to have been dropped.
“Stronger criteria, combined with those decreasing trendlines — a lot has changed since May 7,” when the state first allowed for counties to move ahead of the state’s re-opening plan, Newsom said from a Napa restaurant.
As of Monday, 24 mostly rural counties had received permission from the state to re-open restaurants and shopping centers, with modifications. The counties make up roughly 5% of the state’s total population.
Retail with curbside pick-up and manufacturing in limited sectors are currently permitted to operate across the state.
On Monday, Newsom said coronavirus-related hospitalizations had declined 7.5% and ICU patients had dropped 8.7% over a two week period.
If those trends hold, the governor signaled professional sports could resume without live audiences in June. He said religious services may also begin again with distancing measures. He said religious services, hair salons and in-person retail may also soon be allowed to resume with modifications.
Newsom also said California is nearing his goal of conducting 60,000-80,000 daily tests for COVID-19. On Sunday, he said the state ran around 57,000 tests for the virus.
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