Stanislaus County has seen an uptick in the number of coronavirus cases since the re-opening process began in May, and while concerning, the health department does not think it warrants any return to closures or halting the re-opening.
Stanislaus County Public Health Director Dr. Julie Vaishampayan said the increase in positive cases has largely come from family gatherings and workplaces, especially from employee to employee.
“Recently we have had some increases in the community,” Dr. Vaishampayan said. “There have been gatherings at home for Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. We haven’t seen anything from the protests yet, but clearly we have people gathering in homes that are not taking precautions.”
Dr. Vaishampayan also said the lack of precautions is also behind the rise in workplace cases. She said the transmissions are mainly happening from employee to employee.
“They forget that they are not necessarily from the same household,” Dr. Vaishampayan said. “So, when they go into the break room to have lunch they might sit close together, no one is wearing face coverings and so we’re seeing more transmission in work sites.
“We have to be better at our distancing,” Dr. Vaishampayan said. “We need to wear face coverings. We need to protect each other. Employers need to take these guidelines seriously.”
One of the county’s largest outbreaks outside of skilled nursing facilities was at a funeral that led to 29 cases and 58 contacts.
A produce packing company outside the county had an outbreak that led to 17 Stanislaus County residents testing positive for COVID-19 and 63 residents having to self-quarantine.
Even with the increases, Stanislaus County is on track to open more sectors including personal services. On Friday, the county got new guidelines from the state on re-opening businesses like nail salons, tattoo parlor and spas.
Stanislaus County does not intend to re-open these additional businesses immediately, but does encourage business owners to carefully review the guidelines and prepare themselves for a safe reopening to the public.
Stanislaus County officials are hopeful that these new business categories could reopen as early as July 1, however that determination will be based on ongoing review of the spread of COVID-19 in Stanislaus County and the impact of previously approved openings for other business sectors, including bars, restaurants and gyms.
The County will provide an update on the potential reopening of personal services on June 29.
“We are pleased that the State has authorized us to re-open more and more of our local economy over the last several weeks, with many additional businesses opening up today,” said Kristin Olsen, Chairperson of the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors. “As we have said from the beginning, we need to re-open slowly and methodically so that we can stay on top of our local data and ensure that our hospitalization rates remain manageable. Personal care services, such as nail salons and massage establishments, require literal skin to skin contact. While we look forward to these businesses re-opening, we must act responsibly and wait a couple of weeks while we monitor the impacts of what has already re-opened.”
In re-opening the economy, the California Department of Public Health is tracking data that includes positive case rate per 100,000 population, the test positive rate, and the preparedness level of the area's healthcare system.
Dr. Vaishampayan said that while the testing rate has seen an increase, it remains below the state threshold of 8 percent. Stanislaus County currently has a testing positive rate of 6 percent.
Stanislaus County has a total of 1,090 cases, of which 275 are presumed active. The county has recorded a total of 34 deaths. In the last 24 hours there have been 18 new cases and one death in the county.