For those who have anxiously been awaiting the day when they could go get a haircut or have their gray roots touched up, the state health department has some good news to share. The same can also be said for those eager to return to church and religious services, though with limitations put in place.
The California Department of Public Health announced Tuesday that counties that have attested to meeting the criteria for accelerated re-opening, which includes Stanislaus County, may re-open hair salons and barbershops with some modifications put into place.
“Together, Californians have limited infections in our state, and because of that work, many counties may make a decision to restart modified hair and barber services,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. “However, COVID-19 is still present in our communities and we are still at risk. As we venture outside our homes, it is critically important to keep physical distance, wear face coverings in public and wash hands frequently to help protect yourself and those around you.”
Hair salons and barbershops were originally slated to re-open in a later stage of the California Pandemic Resilience Roadmap primarily because of the prolonged face-to-face contact between hairdresser/barber and client and the potential risk that carries of spreading COVID-19. For example, two hair stylists in Missouri tested positive for COVID-19 and health officials believe they exposed at least 140 clients.
In order to re-open, hair salons and barbershops will have to make modifications to adhere to social distancing guidelines of six feet or more. The CDPH also states both hairdressers/barbers and clients wear face masks during their visit.
Among the pages of requirements for hair salons and barbershops are:
• Display a set of guidelines for customers that are to be a condition of entry. The guidelines must include instructions to wear face coverings, use hand sanitizer and maintain physical distance from other customers;
• Contact customers before visits to confirm appointments and ask if they are exhibiting any symptoms, have been sick or whether they have been exposed to someone who has been sick. If the customer answers in the affirmative for any of those questions, reschedule the appointment at least 10 to 14 days in the future;
• Stagger appointments to reduce reception congestion and ensure adequate time for proper cleaning and sanitation between each customer visit. Consider servicing fewer customers each day or expanding operating hours to allow for more time between customers. Suspend walk-in appointment availability;
• Ensure that workers do not see multiple customers at once (e.g. while one customer’s hair is drying, another receives a haircut). Services for one customer should be completely rendered before a new customer is seen by the same worker;
• If possible, implement virtual check-in technology to ensure that workers are notified when a customer arrives. Ask customers to wait outside or in their cars rather than congregating in the salon or barbershop. In larger locations, reception areas should only have one customer at a time or modify the area for adequate physical distancing, including removing chairs and sofas;
• Wherever possible, doors should be left open if they do not open and close automatically; and
• Require workers to avoid handshakes, hugs or similar greetings that break physical distance.
While hair salons and barbershops can open, some services still haven't made the cut to start up again. Those services include manicures and pedicures, facials, threading, shaves, facial waxing and eyelash services.
The announcement follows one from the CDPH on Monday that religious and worship services can resume with limitations. Under new guidance, places of worship can hold religious services and funerals that limit attendance to 25% of a building’s capacity – or up to 100 attendees, whichever is lower – upon approval by the county department of public health.
The new guidance for religious services and cultural ceremonies encourages organizations to continue online services and activities to protect individuals who are most at risk for more severe COVID-19, including older adults and people with specific medical conditions.
“Places of worship provide comfort to many in our community and we appreciate the collaborative work with our faith leaders on important re-opening practices,” said Dr. Julie Vaishampayan, Stanislaus County Public Health Officer. “There have been many outbreaks linked to religious services and choir practices. We have faith that our community will continue to look out for each other by observing six feet of social distancing and by limiting activities that promote spread such as singing, especially during this time when members of our community need a safe space to help them cope.”
In 21 days, the state department of public health, in consultation with local departments of public health, will review and assess the impact of the religious services guidelines and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of activities. This 21-day interval accounts for seven days for religious communities to prepare and reopen in addition to a 14-day incubation period of COVID-19.
To reopen for religious services and funerals, places of worship must:
· Establish and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, train staff on the plan and regularly evaluate workplaces for compliance;
· Train employees and volunteers on COVID-19, including how to prevent it from spreading and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus;
· Implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols;
· Set physical distancing guidelines;
· Recommend that staff and guests wear cloth face coverings, and screen staff for temperature and symptoms at the beginning of their shifts;
· Set parameters around or consider eliminating singing and group recitations. These activities dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing;
• Offering plates (and similar items) should not be passed around between worshipers; and
• Discouraging sharing of items like prayer books, cushions, and prayer rugs.
The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency also recommends houses of worship maintain a list of congregants in attendance each week. If transmission of COVID-19 is detected, this is critical to help quickly identify those who may have been exposed and stop additional spread they also should assign a person to educate all on the best social distancing measures and monitor implementation of recommendations.
Since Friday the number of COVID-19 cases in Stanislaus County has grown from 621 to 670, but the number of deaths has remained the same at 28. In the last 24 hours there have been 11 new cases, according to the SCHSA.
Of the 670 cases, 107 are presumed active and 29 of those are currently hospitalized with 10 in the ICU. Hospital bed availability in Stanislaus County is at 51 percent. ICU bed availability is at 46 percent and 84 percent of the ventilators are available for use.
Direct person-to-person contact remains the primary transmission of COVID-19 in Stanislaus County at 70.61 percent. Community transmission accounted for 26.54 percent of the cases and travel was responsible for 2.85 percent.
The Hispanic population in Stanislaus County is 47 percent but account for 61 percent of the infections. Whites make up 41 percent of the county's population and 27 percent of infections. Asian Americans make up 5 percent of the county's total population and account for 6 percent of the cases. African Americans represent 3 percent of the total population in the county and 3 percent of the cases. Pacific Islanders represent 1 percent of the county and 1 percent of the infections. American Indian represents 1 percent of the county population, and 0 percent of the cases. The classification of other accounts for 3 percent of the population in the county and 2 percent of the cases.
People 20 years and younger make up 9 percent of the cases. Those between 21 to 30 years account for 16 percent of the cases. Individuals 31 to 40 years represent 15 percent of the cases, while those 41 to 50 years account for 17 percent. Those between 51 to 60 years make up 16 percent of the cases, followed by those 61 to 70 years, which make up 10 percent of the cases. People in the ages of 71 to 80 years account for 7 percent of the cases and those from 81 to 90 years are at 7 percent. Those 91 and over account for 3 percent of the cases in the county.
While those 60 years and younger make up the majority of the COVID-19 cases in Stanislaus County, it is the people 65 years and older that are paying a heavy price in serious outcomes. of the 28 deaths in Stanislaus County, 89.3 percent were in people 65 years and older.
The cases are split 54 percent among females and 46 percent among males.
Turlock has the most cases in the county at 197. Modesto has 171 reported cases, followed by 84 in Ceres and 51 in Patterson. Stanislaus County District 5 has 37 cases, District 3 has 32 cases and District 2 has 23 cases. Riverbank has 18 cases and Newman has 14 cases. Waterford has 13 cases and Oakdale has nine. Hughson has eight cases and District 1 has seven. Any area with less than five cases is not reported by the Stanislaus County Health Services Agency.
Stanislaus County has tested 12,120 people.
In Merced County's neighboring communities to Turlock, Delhi has 22 cases and Hilmar has six. All total, Merced County has had 273 cases, with 100 presumed active and seven deaths.
California has recorded 96,733 confirmed cases and 3,814 deaths from COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
More information about the state’s COVID-19 guidance is on the California Department of Public Health's Guidance web page.