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Two NorCal Counties Rethink Reopening After COVID-19 Case Counts Rise


Lassen and Sonoma Counties are backpedaling on decisions to reopen businesses as new coronavirus cases appear.

Lassen County opened stores, dine-in restaurants and other businesses on May 11 as part of its move into the state's "expandedstage 2” of reopening. At the time, the county had no positive confirmed cases.

But on Tuesday, the county announced it would have to retract those plans after at least five cases were confirmed since Friday. It's the first county to fully back out of California's expanded allowances of the 48 that have been approved by the state.

“We were fully aware of the risk that the virus would come to our community from people visiting,” said Dr. Kenneth Korver, public health officer, in a statement. “Unfortunately this did happen and now we have a serious problem. We need to contain the spread of the virus in Lassen County now.”

Local health officials are still working to determine the source of the virus in the county and how many people were exposed. County administrative officer Richard Egan says the first two cases originated in the same household, and three contacts of those two people tested positive. Another 80 people are being tested after potential exposure to those five individuals.

For the second time counting the initial stay-at-home orders, the county is-canceling dine-in restaurant service, in-store shopping, salon services and in-person worship.

The latest order is in effect until Monday, or until the health officer rescinds it.

“Once he does determine that it’s safe to reopen, we’re anticipating it will reopen not just to stage 2 but also to the newly released guidance from the state that could include barbers, salons and churches,” Egan said.

There’s a similar narrative playing out in Sonoma County. Over the Memorial Day weekend, public health officers moved to allow outdoor dining. Now they’re hitting pause instead of taking the next step to re-open shopping malls, salon services and places of worship.

According to The Press Democrat, the change comes after a doubling of new cases in the past two weeks. The county is averaging 14 new cases a day over the past week.

Unlike Lassen, Sonoma County has not yet rescinded its move into the expanded stage 2, keeping dine-in restaurants open.

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