Gavin Newsom eased the standards counties must meet for reopening, but then Tuesday the state reported the most coronavirus deaths of any day yet.
Those who obsess over daily COVID-19 data know that Tuesdays tend to have the largest numbers of reported fatalities. Hospitals and government organizations are generally catching up on weekend backlog, some cases that fell through the weekend cracks get processed. But that’s no comfort to the news that yesterday (a Tuesday) California saw the largest number of reported deaths of any day yet since this whole mess started, according to the San Jose Mercury News, and that paper also reports that the Bay Area saw its two-day “perfect streak” of no reported deaths end, with nine fatalities in San Mateo County, three in Alameda County, and two in Santa Clara County.
Which is a troubling backdrop for another report from the Bay Area News Group that Governor Gavin Newsom has eased the standards for counties to reopen. The previous standard was no deaths for two weeks in a row, a standard so strict that several counties applied for waivers, but at least it’s pretty simple to understand. Newsom’s new and far more opaque standard for a county reopen is described in the News Group as “fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 people over the last 14 days, or a rate of positive tests for the virus over the past 7 days of less than 8 percent.”
Newsom himself said Monday that only five California counties do not meet that benchmark, which theoretically means that most of the state could reopen right now. The Bay Area News Group analysis ran the numbers that the entire nine-county Bay Area region is eligible for “green light” status, though possibly not Alameda County, where some data is still outstanding. But here in the Bay Area, we are operating under stricter rules than other counties’ public health officials have implemented.
“While we are making progress in some areas such as flat or declining number of hospitalizations, we still aren’t where we want to be for things like testing and PPE supplies,” Contra Costa County health department spokesperson Will Harper told Bay Area News Group.
The flash point of the “reopen California” debate, from a county perspective at least, is Tulare County, between Fresno and Bakersfield. Newsom specifically mentioned Tulare County as not being eligible to reopen, with 71 deaths and 1,539 cases, in part thanks to a nursing home outbreak. But the Visalia Times Delta reports that county supervisors voted to reopen anyway last night — an item that was not even on their meeting agenda — with the board chair specifically saying “I don't want to be a county or one of the two counties that the governor can actually mention in a press conference as being one that's going to be restricted.”
County health official don’t agree. “Our increases are not attributable to our (nursing home) population but are instead driven by outbreaks at our business facilities," the county’s health and human services director HHSA Tim Lutz told the Times Delta.
Screenshot: @GavinNewsom via Twitter