What Newsom’s New Reopening Guidelines Mean for San Joaquin County

August 28, 2020 at 7:59 pm

California Governor Gavin Newsom

Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled a new tiered system for county reopenings on Friday.

Image courtesy of CNBC

On Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a new reopening plan for California businesses and schools, one much more gradual than the first effort in the spring. The new plan uses a four-tier system in which counties must demonstrate lower numbers over a multi-week period.

There will only be a few immediate changes. Hair salons and barbershops can reopen Monday, including indoor operations if social distancing, mask mandates, and other health guidelines are followed. Retail stores can also open the same day if they operate at 25% capacity.

The four tier, color-coded system is as follows:

Tier 1 - purple/widespread transmission: most non-essential businesses are closed. This is for counties with a positivity rate at or over 8% and/or more than 7 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

Map of California counties according to their position on the new reopening tiers. San Joaquin is in Tier 1, the most strict.

San Joaquin (outlined in black) is part of Tier 1, which has the most restrictions.

Image courtesy of covid19.ca.gov

Tier 2 - red/substantial transmission: some non-essential indoor businesses are still closed. This is for counties with a positivity rate between 5% and 8% and/or 4-7 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

Tier 3 - orange/moderate transmission: some businesses can reopen with modifications. This is for counties with a 2-4.9% positivity rate and 1-3.9 new daily cases per 100,000 people.

Tier 4 - yellow/minimal transmission: most businesses can reopen with modifications. This is for counties with a positivity rate of less than 2% and less than one new daily case per 100,000 people.

Counties must be on their current tier for more than three weeks and meet the qualifications of the above tier to move up. Failing to meet the standard for their current tier will result in them being moved down.

The new guidelines also outline the criteria for school reopenings. Counties must be on Tiers 2, 3, or 4 for at least 14 days before they can offer limited in-person instruction. Schools will also remain subject to rules rolled out in July. Districts with outbreaks in a quarter or more of their schools will be asked to shut down all classes, for example. However, schools on Tier 1 will still be eligible for in-person instruction waivers for grades K-6.

Like most counties in the state, San Joaquin County is considered a purple county and will probably be so for a while. On Friday, 140 new coronavirus cases were reported for a rate of roughly 20 cases per 100,000 residents, almost triple the requirement to move on to Tier 2. The week-long average for daily new cases is 173. Currently, the countywide positivity rate is 11.3%.

San Joaquin has 16,989 active coronavirus cases, the ninth-most in the state. However, some aspects of the crisis have been improving. The County Board of Supervisors recently laid out a spending plan for $133 million in CARES Act funding, which included expansion of testing to agricultural workers. On Friday, the intensive care unit of the San Joaquin General Hospital operated at 99% capacity. It has not operated below full capacity since July 3.