Fresno Co. officials: Newsom’s path to re-open up could be ‘problematic’

“The governor’s going to be challenged in a few days or in the next week or two to speed this up,” Fresno County administrative officer Jean Rousseau said.

After announcing plans on Monday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom finally released guidelines on Thursday as the state begins its phased reopening from the coronavirus pandemic.

California is moving into Stage 2 of the reopening plan on Friday, which involves reopening lower-risk workplaces, such as retail, manufacturing and logistics.


Later on in Stage 2, schools, child care facilities, offices and hospitality services will begin to gradually reopen.

Fresno County Administrative Officer Jean Rousseau sees some of the guidelines for moving through Stage 2 as being potentially problematic.

The businesses opening on Friday need to have a detailed risk assessment plan, a site specific protection plan and need to train employees on how to limit the spread of COVID-19, including how to screen for symptoms.

Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra previously issued an order requiring businesses to screen for symptoms, so the county already has a headstart on that.

In order to move through Stage 2, counties will have to meet certain requirements and have a self-certification plan. Rousseau said the county started working on the plan on Thursday and hopes to have it completed in the next couple of weeks.

The county will have to have at least 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents. Rousseau said Fresno County hopes to hit that number in June.

Fresno County will also have to conduct 1,000 to 1,500 tests per day. Currently, the county is 600-700 tests per day.

“We’re trying to push this as fast as we can,” Rousseau said. “We know that businesses are chomping at the bit to open up, and we really want to help them get there. So this guidance from the governor is problematic in my mind, but we’ll work through that.”

The main requirement that Rousseau sees as troubling is reaching a point where there have been no coronavirus deaths in the county in the last 14 days, saying it is a high bar to meet.

“Some of these requirements to get there – the governor’s going to be challenged in a few days or in the next week or two to speed this up,” Rousseau. “Because to have no COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days – I’m not going to say it’s a deal killer, but it will be a deal killer for a lot of counties for an extended period of time. I would think some of these have to be modified by the state in order for us to be in full compliance.”

Rousseau added, “The thought of not being able to go to the second part of Stage 2 is troubling. We’ll know more in the next couple of days.”

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