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California county first to roll back reopening orders | TheHill

A California county, which was one of the first places to reopen in the state, is now the first county to backtrack on its reopening after an outbreak of COVID-19. 

Lassen County, a rural Northern California county north of San Francisco and Sacramento, had followed the statewide stay-at-home orders. With a low case count, county officials submitted its own reopening plan on May 5. Phase 2 of this plan was approved for the county on May 11, which included opening more lower-risk businesses. 

At that point, retail stores, malls and dine-in restaurants were among the previously shuttered businesses that reopened. A report issued by the Lassen County Public Health Officer said that preventative measures, such as social distancing, enhanced sanitization, staff health training and prohibiting sick patrons from entering businesses were enacted during this time. 


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SFGate reports that during this time, four individuals were confirmed to have contracted coronavirus infection, forcing the county to rescind its reopening orders in a document dated May 26. 

“While Lassen County had no COVID-19 confirmed cases for the past three months, we were fully aware of the risk that the virus could come to our community from people visiting people living in infected areas outside of our county or people visiting our county,” Kenneth G Krover, Lassen County’s Public Health Officer, wrote in an official order. “Unfortunately, this did happen and we now have a serious problem. We need to contain the spread of the virus in Lassen County now.”

Krover confirmed that the new cases began on May 22.

Due to the uptick, Lassen County will “temporarily retract” its reopening of lower-risk businesses. Restricted services have shut down dine-in restaurants, salons, retail stores and places of worship. 

Curbside pickup will still be available for some retail outlets. 


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Lassen County is currently conducting contact tracing investigations to identify how many people potentially came into contact with the virus, and working to test people suspected of coming into contact with a patient. 

Kate Folmar, a spokesperson for the California Health and Human Services Agency, said the county’s response is an illustration of how the system should work. 

“Lassen County saw a change in their data, and their public health officer decided to slow its reopenings. In this new normal, local public health officers are the best first line of defense and best able to assess the facts on the ground,” Folmar said to SFGate in a statement.

As a state, California has been slow to reopen. San Francisco recently unveiled a new plan for reopening, with Phase 2A to begin on June 1. City officials will continue to monitor new confirmed cases before they set dates for Phase 3.

“We’re seeing spikes in confirmed cases up here,” said San Francisco’s Public Information Officer Laine Hendricks to Mercury News. “So we’re trying to move forward with an abundance of caution.”


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