County gets official OK to Stage 2 of recovery

Tulare County HHSA announces official movement into latter phase of Stage 2, opening dine in services, hair salons and barbershops

TULARE COUNTY – Two weeks ago, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors plunged the county into Stage 3 of the state’s Roadmap to Recovery from COVID-19. Clearly going against the Governor’s order that Tulare County stay in the initial portions of Stage 2.

The Board voted 3-2 to not civilly enforce the Governor’s order through Stage 3 at their May 19 meeting, essentially reopening the county. But just eight days later, the California Public Health Department gave Tulare County the thumbs up to move into the latter phase of Stage 2.

Tulare County can now move fully into Stage 2 of California’s Resilience Roadmap. On May 18, the Governor revised the process where counties who met specified criteria could move more quickly than other parts of the state through Stage 2 by modifying the order.

“We are happy to announce that we have met the metrics set forth by State Public Health officials, allowing us to move forward in the reopening of all businesses within Stage Two,” stated Karen Elliott, Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency’s (HHSA) Public Health Division Director.

A key metric to meet was to reduce new cases to 8% or less. HHSA director Tim Lutz said they met all the necessary metrics as well.

“We were at about 7.89 percent when we got to Tuesday morning and moved through the attestation form,” Lutz said.

He cautioned that moving into a state sanctions Stage 2 does not necessarily mean the county is out of the woods.

“It’s certainly exciting but doesn’t mean by any stretch in the imagination that we’re through this. We still have troubling trends in terms of our caseload numbers relative to a lot of our neighbors and we’ll continue to watch those closely,” Lutz said.

The main difference between a Stage 2 and latter phase of Stage 2 is alcohol in restaurants. According to Lutz, restaurants can open for dine-in services at 50% capacity and serve alcohol table side.

Aside from restaurants, provisions allow for hair salons and barbers to resume business with some precautions. Latter phases of Stage 2 do not include manicures or pedicures.

HHSA said in a statement last Wednesday evening that as Tulare County begins to slowly reopen, public health officials continue urging residents to follow safety precautions in protecting vulnerable populations and those at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19. This includes: people over the age of 65, individuals with serious underlying medical conditions such as high blood pressure, chronic lung disease, diabetes, obesity, or asthma, and individuals whose immune system is compromised.

The agency added that in order to stay healthy and keep safe, those most vulnerable to COVID-19 should continue:

Social distancing: Continue to maintain space of at least six feet or greater between persons; avoid gatherings of any kind; practice physical distancing.

Cloth face coverings: When outside the home, the wearing of cloth face coverings (masks) is strongly encouraged to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19 if someone is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. Avoid touching your face and eyes.

Hand washing: Frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer often.

Disinfecting surfaces: Regularly disinfect high-traffic surfaces to prevent transmission from droplets that may have settled on surfaces or have transferred to commonly used surfaces through touch.

Stay home if sick or you are instructed to isolate/quarantine by a medical or public health professional: If you are sick or have been instructed to stay home by a medical professional, stay home. If possible, ask others to deliver needed supplies instead of going to the store. If you live with others, follow CDC guidance for caring for someone who is sick at home.

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