On Monday, May 18, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced greater flexibility for the state’s counties in enacting their own self-attested and approved coronavirus containment plans and greater regional relaxation of stay-at-home orders.
During a press conference Newsom stated that the increased ability for counties to reopen at their own pace under prescribed guidelines was enacted immediately and in recognition that “in a state as large as California ⎯ with a population greater than 21 states combined ⎯ one size does not fit all.”
The state has listed 24 counties that have successfully filed for COVID-19 County Variance Attestation, and 53 of the state’s 58 counties could be eligible. As of Wednesday, May 20, San Bernardino County was not listed.
The governor also added that greater reopening on a statewide level, outside of the regional variances, could be ready by the first week of June. This could include in-store retail, salons and no-audience sporting events under prescribed precautions.
According to County of San Bernardino Public Information Officer David Wert, as of Wednesday, May 20, the county was reading through the county variance form materials and the county’s coronavirus data to determine if the county is eligible to submit for the variance. A decision was expected to be made by the end of the week. A special meeting of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors was scheduled for Thursday, May 21, after print deadline of this edition. (See highlandnews.net for updated information.)
Among the criteria that make a county eligible for county variance is to have a contact tracing capacity of 15 tracers per 100,000 residents, a COVID-19 positivity rate of less than 8 percent and a hospitalization rate that sees an increase no greater than 5 percent during a 7-day period.
Newsom announced these criteria after reporting that statewide testing has increased dramatically as has personal protective equipment availability. More than 1.3 million COVID-19 tests have been performed reaching a rate of approximately 54,000 per 24 hours.
In the 14 days prior to the announcement, California has also seen a 7.5 percent decline in hospitalization and an 8.7 percent decline in ICU patients.
“We are seeing a significant rate of decline over a long period of time in the number of people hospitalized and in our ICUs,” Newsom said.
In San Bernardino County, as of Tuesday, May 19, there have been 3,707 confirmed COVID-19 cases and an average of 56.2 new cases per day, from 41,144 tests conducted. Countywide there have been 157 COVID-19 deaths, a fatality rate of 4.1 percent of confirmed cases. Since Saturday, May 16, there has been just one death.
Highland has had three deaths total.