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Essential services remain open during statewide shutdown
Turlock fire COVID-19
In response to COVID-19, Turlock Firefighters are taking necessary precautions on medical emergencies. The department asks the public to not be alarmed if they see fire personnel show up to calls wearing masks, gowns and eye protection. This is in an effort to help protect against the spread of COVID-19 to patients, firefighters and to prevent bringing it home to families at the end of their shifts (Photo courtesy of the Turlock Fire Department).

Gov. Gavin Newsom has ordered all California residents stay at home as the state tries to avoid a surge of COVID-19 cases.

The order was issued by the California Department of Public Health and the State Public Health Director. It calls for everyone to remain at home, except for going out for essential services and for individuals working in those services.

“A state as large as ours, a nation state, has many parts, but at the end of the day we are one body," Newsom said during his Thursday night press conference. "There's a mutuality and there's a recognition of our interdependence that requires of this moment that we direct a statewide order for people to stay at home. We are confident that the people of California will abide by it and do the right thing. They'll meet this moment and step up as they have over the course of the last number of weeks to protect themselves, to protect their families, and to protect the broader community."

The order, which started Thursday night and is open-ended, does allow people to go out for essential services like food and medicine. People can also go outside their homes and walk their dogs, but they should not congregate in groups and practice social distancing of six feet.

Essential service businesses include those in food service, from grocery stores to food banks to restaurants with take-out, delivery and drive-through options, and pharmacies. Businesses that should be closed include those related to entertainment and recreation.

Because the order comes from the public health department, it is enforceable by law, but the governor said society will be the real enforcers.

"Social pressure is leading to social distancing," Newsom said. "It's time for all of us to recognize as individuals and a community that we need to do more to meet this moment."

Some of the Essential services that will remain open:

  • Police stations
  • Fire stations
  • Hospitals (patients only, no visitors), clinics and healthcare operations
  • Jails (no visitors)
  • Courts (limited access)
  • Garbage/sanitation
  • Bus transportation
  • Utilities (water, power and gas)
  • Certain city offices 
  • Gas stations
  • Pharmacies 
  • Food: Grocery stores, food banks, convenience stores, take-out and delivery restaurants 
  • Agriculture
  • Hardware stores/plumbers
  • Banks
  • Community benefit organizations on a case-by-case basis
  • Laundromats/laundry services
  • Plumbers providing service for homes and at “essential businesses”
  • Automotive, motorcycle, truck and other vehicle repair businesses
  • Bicycle repair businesses
  • Internet service providers
  • Cellular phone stores
  • Electronics stores
  • Pet food stores
  • Moving companies
  • Financial services, such as payroll processing
  • News media
  • US Post Office/Shipping Services


Stanislaus County's Health Services Agency had previously put a ban on gatherings of 1,000 people or more, which is enforceable by law and had been encouraging people to stay at home. Following Gov. Newsom's declaration, the Stanislaus County Office of Emergency Services posted on Facebook that they were "evaluating all of the information to determine any differences between this new order and our most recent guidance in Stanislaus County."

The Turlock Police Department does not plan on arresting individuals, but hopes people will use common sense and obey the order.

"The governor's comments last night were very clear — it is a stay home order and it is not his wish that law enforcement is involved in this and that people will abide by the order, as it is for their health and safety," said Turlock Police Chief Nino Amirfar. "The government code does allow for enforcement of the governor's orders, however, the Turlock Police Department at this time will be utilizing any contacts outside of the order as an opportunity to educate and gain compliance from our community members. We are all in this together."

Stanislaus County Sheriff Jeff Dirkse posted on his Facebook account that the sheriff's department was evaluating the order and that sheriff's deputies wouldn't be arresting people for being out of their homes.

"Until we have a better understanding of this information use common sense," Dirkse wrote. "Stay at home-if possible. Since there was absolutely no warning given to any of us, I fully understand that you were all caught unawares and may need to go out for supplies. Many of you will have to sort things out with employers. You’re not simply going to stay in your homes, potentially for weeks, without better information. Know this, no one will be arrested for violating this order. Just do the right thing and stay at home."

The governor explained that the action was taken now in an effort to avoid a surge of COVID-19 cases. The modeling on this virus has predicted 30 to 70 percent of the global population could contract the virus. Newsom said the California model was projecting 56 percent of the state's population would be infected with the virus within eight weeks if no action was taken.

"You do the math and in the state of California that's a particularly large number," Newsom said.

In the model, the majority would have mild to no symptoms, but there would be a subset of the population that would need hospitalization and the governor warned that number could swamp the state's healthcare system. The order is to help flatten the curve of patients coming down with the virus and to avoid an overwhelming outbreak, like what is currently happening in Italy. Italy currently has 47,021 cases and 4,032 deaths. The country had 627 deaths in 24 hours.

In addition to the stay at home order, Newsom said the state is working to secure additional beds for the possibility that hospitals cannot handle to number of patients. These efforts include a hospital ship off the coast, purchasing older hospitals in the state that have been closed, purchasing motels and hotels and using college dormitories.

The governor said that about 500 National Guard troops would be deployed in a humanitarian capacity to help with non-profits like food banks to help meet their needs while dealing with a loss of volunteers.

Newsom stressed that this is not a permanent state for the 40 million Californians.

"This is a moment in time," Newsom said. "We will meet it together and we will look back at these kind of decisions as pivotal decisions."

As of Thursday night, there are 1,006 confirmed cases in California and 19 deaths, according to the California Department of Public Health.

John Hopkins University reported there are more than 16,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of Friday afternoon and 215 deaths. Globally, there are more than 265,000 positive cases and more than 11,100 deaths from the virus.

Nationally, the United States borders between Mexico and Canada have been closed except for essential travel. The tax deadline was extended to July 15.

In Stanislaus County the number of confirmed cases remains at five, with zero deaths. There was one death of a patient with coronavirus in the county, but the patient was not a resident and did not contract the virus in Stanislaus County. The patient was transferred to an area hospital for treatment and died at the hospital.

Turlock closes parks, reduces bus hours

The City of Turlock announced on Friday that effective immediately all city parks and park restrooms will be closed to the public and that Turlock Transit is reducing service.

The new bus hours will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Turlock Transit also is reducing the frequency of service by half on all routes during the new operating hours. Odd numbered routes (1,3, and 5) will operate on odd numbered runs, while even numbered routes (2, 4, and 6) will operate on even numbered runs. Complementary ADA paratransit (Dial-a-Ride) will still be available for next-day reservations during the newly revised operating hours.

Notices reflecting these changes will be posted on the Turlock Transit website and social media accounts, Transit Center map cases, buses, and bus stops.


Grocery industry working ‘double-time’ to fill need

As more people are staying at home for an extended period of time, grocery stores have been struggling to meet the demands of certain items.

"As California mounts its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the state’s grocery industry is adapting to heightened consumer demand, stretched supply chains and fluid workforce conditions," the California Grocers Association wrote in a news release. "COVID-19 has caused demand to surge for a number of grocery items. In response, California’s grocery industry is working double-time to meet the needs of consumers, with many grocery stores restocking items multiple times each day. The demand for some products has made it a challenge to distribute goods fast enough to restock shelves as quickly as consumers are purchasing them. But we are open for business, doubling down on safety practices, and well-positioned to meet the needs of all Californians.

"We encourage all customers to remain calm as they prepare. Overbuying could become a concern as a customer who buys more than they need could prevent another customer’s preparation. As the situation progresses, grocers continue to monitor product availability up and down the supply chain. During these uncertain times, it’s important our communities remember we are in this together — customer and employee safety is paramount to ensuring Californians can access the products they need."


COVID-19 testing in county with doctor referral only

Symptoms of COVID-19 include a fever, a dry cough, and body aches. Those experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and may have had contact with a person with COVID-19, or recently traveled to countries with apparent community spread, call your healthcare provider or local public health department first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

There is drive through testing in Stanislaus County, but it is only for people referred by their doctor and is by appointment only. The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency is not doing testing. Testing sites are at:

Kaiser Permanente Modesto Medical Center, Modesto

Sutter Health Memorial Medical Center, Modesto

Sutter Gould Medical Foundation, Modesto

Golden Valley Health Centers, Ceres

Modesto Medical Offices, Modesto


If you believe you have COVID-19, but your symptoms are mild and do not require hospitalization, health officials are advising you self-isolate at home.

* Pick a room in the house that will be your home base. This is where you will eat, sleep and spend the majority of your time.

* Designate a bathroom that is solely for the use of the infected individual. If this is not possible, make sure the bathroom is cleaned after every use. This includes disinfecting the toilet, sink, counters, handles, faucets, and door knobs.

* The infected individual should be the one to put their clothing and bedding in the washing machine. It's okay for the items to be washed with other clothing, but the contact to the clothing and bedding should be limited prior to washing.

* If you need to go into another part of the house, make sure you wear a mask or something to cover your face and nose.

* All shared household items, like remote controls should be disinfected, as should frequently touched surfaces, like door, cabinet and appliance handles and counters.

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). This occurs through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Older adults and people who have severe underlying chronic medical conditions like heart or lung disease or diabetes seem to be at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19 illness.

Health officials recommend people:

-       Washing hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.

-       Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

-       Cover a cough or sneeze with your sleeve, or disposable tissue. Wash your hands afterward.

-       Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.

-       Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.