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November 28, 2020

Covid-19 economic restrictions expected to remain in place

County health officials expect jump in cases due to evacuations

SANTA CRUZ COUNTY—The economic restrictions imposed on various Santa Cruz County businesses are not expected to be loosened this week, according to Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency spokeswoman Corinne Hyland.

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That’s despite the fact that the county will have spent its 14th day off the state’s so-called Covid-19 monitoring list on Thursday, previously the benchmark counties hoping to reopen swaths of their economy had to meet. 

Santa Cruz County was removed from the list on Aug. 14, County Health Officer Gail Newel said during an impromptu press conference on Aug. 17.

Hyland said the County has received no indication that the state would allow its personal care (barbershops, beauty salons, skincare, cosmetology, nail services and massage therapy, among others) industries 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 numerous people packing the various evacuations shelters set up to aid victims of the CZU August Lightning Complex fire

There were still more than 1,200 active Covid-19 cases throughout the county Wednesday.

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

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. 

The guidance is expected to be released Friday, Newsom said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

Santa Cruz County was placed on the list July 27 after new Covid-19 cases started to pile up. 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 similar decreases in that same time.

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

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
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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