California · COVID-19 · Highlight

Newsom lifts shelter-in-place order across Calif.

Jan. 25, 2021, 3 p.m.: Though California has not yet made it through the winter COVID-19 surge, Gov. Gavin Newsom revoked the shelter-in-place order Monday, reverting the state back to the county-by-county color-tier reopening blueprint. 

Newsom’s decision comes at a time in which the state’s hospitals are in worse shape than they were when the shelter-in-place order was enacted in early December. 

There were 15,306 people hospitalized with COVID-19 when Newsom announced the order on Dec. 3. The latest data from the state shows that the total hospitalizations number is now at 30,382. 

Fresno County shows a similar story – 340 hospitalizations on Dec. 3 and 536 as of the latest count. 

That being said, the number of hospitalizations peaked at nearly 22,000 in early January and has steadily declined since, signalling that California is flattening the curve of this latest surge and heading in the right direction. 

Newsom said in a Monday press conference that the decision to lift the order is based on four-week projections that show a continued fall in case rates, positivity rates and hospitalizations throughout the state. 

“Today we can lay claim to stating to see some real light at the end of the tunnel as it relates to case numbers,” Newsom said. “Each region’s a little bit different, but we are in a position projecting four weeks forward with a significant decline in the case rates, positivity rates.” 

The state predicts that the San Joaquin Valley region will have 22.3 percent ICU capacity on Feb. 21.

Currently the state’s metrics show the region’s ICU capacity to be percent. 

With the return to the color-tier system, each county will be reassigned a tier on Tuesday.

Fresno County’s numbers last week – 90.8 new daily COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people (adjusted to 75.2 because of surplus testing) and an 18.3 percent positivity rate place the county solidly in the purple and most restrictive tier. 

To move up into the red tier, Fresno County will need to post a case rate per 100,000 people under 7 and a positivity rate less than 8 percent. 

Although the county will likely be placed in purple, certain business sectors will be allowed to reopen. 

Restaurants will once again be allowed to offer outdoor dining, and all hair salons and barber shops will be able to reopen. 

“Today it’s good news for our business community,” said Fresno Mayor Jerry Dyer at a Monday press conference at City Hall. “It is good news for our restaurant owners. I know I’ve been on the phone with a number of restaurant owners today who are excited about the fact that they’re going to open up outdoor dining.” 

California Restaurant Association Central Valley President Chuck Van Fleet welcomed Monday’s news and was particularly excited that restaurants would be able to bring back a number of employees who were furloughed due to the shelter-in-place order. 

“It means that we get to bring employees back,” said Van Fleet at the city hall press conference. “We get to bring people that have worked with us for years back to work so that they can finally start earning some money.” 

However, Van Fleet said the reopening for outdoor dining simply is not enough. Restaurants will not be able to survive much longer unless indoor dining resumes in the near future. 

“By no means does this make it viable for restaurants to survive,” Van Fleet said. “We have to get to indoor dining at 50 percent at some point in order for us to survive. This just means that we’re managing loss a little bit better. We will be able to have some more revenue coming in, but that’s not profitable revenue. We’re still way beyond the break even point for restaurants. We need to recover. 

“We need to get through this, and the only way to really keep getting through this is by not arguing with somebody when you come in about wearing a mask. The mask is not there for you. The mask is for the protection of the employees and the other people that you’re around, so I whole-heartedly support wearing masks because of other people.”

Jan. 25, 2021, 10 a.m.: California public health officials confirmed Monday morning that Gov. Gavin Newsom would be lifting the regional shelter-in-place order later today.

Newsom is expected to hold a press conference at noon to make the announcement.

Jan. 24, 2021, 7:30 p.m.: Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to lift his regional shelter-in-place order for all regions throughout California on Monday, Sacramento sources tell The Sun.

The move comes two weeks after Newsom accelerated the reopening of the Greater Sacramento region, despite the region not reaching 15 percent ICU capacity in accordance with the shutdown order.

Word of a potential lift of the order in Southern California spread on Sunday afternoon, and made public by San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond.

The end of the regional shelter-in-place order means reopening returns to a county-by-county basis in Newsom’s color-coded tier system.

Purple, the most restrictive level, allows for restaurants to serve patrons outdoors and allows nail and har salons to reopen indoor service.

This story will be updated.

Alex Tavlian
Alex Tavlian is the Executive Editor of The San Joaquin Valley Sun and Executive Director of Valley Future Foundation. You can reach Alex at alex.tavlian@sjvsun.com.