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Governor OKs ‘Phase 2.5’ Re-openings for 16 Counties

MOUNTAIN AREA — More than a dozen counties in California can move further into stage two of the state’s four-phased reopening plan, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced this week — but Mariposa and Madera counties are not on the list.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 16 of California’s 58 counties had been approved by the state to reopen schools, dine-in restaurants and shopping malls: Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Glenn, Lassen, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, San Benito, Shasta, Sierra, Sutter, Tehama, Tuolumne and Yuba.

The rural, mostly northern California counties on the list have not had any COVID-19 deaths — and after “certifying” to the State that they have coronavirus under control locally, will be allowed to take additional steps to reopen.

Two COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Madera County since the pandemic began but as of 4 p.m. Wednesday, the county had reported just 69 confirmed COVID-19 cases as county officials continue to operate a very aggressive contact tracing program from the Emergency Operations Center in Madera.

Last week, Madera County officials lobbied the governor for permission to reopen Madera County more quickly.

On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom also announced several statewide modifications to the shelter-in-place order such as the reopening of retail with curbside pickup.

The governor is following through on his commitment to allow counties meeting certain specific COVID-19 benchmarks to move further into what officials are calling “stage 2.5.”

In order to be approved for further reopening, counties also must prove to the state they meet the following criteria:

  • No more than one new COVID-19 case per 10,000 residents in the past 14 days
  • No COVID-19 deaths in the past 14 days
  • Essential workers must have access to PPE (personal protective equipment)
  • A minimum of 1.5 tests per 100,000 residents being conducted daily
  • At least 15 contact tracers per 100,000 residents
  • Ability to temporarily house 15 percent of the county’s homeless population
  • Hospitals are equipped to handle a 35 percent surge at minimum
  • Nursing facilities have a two-week supply of PPE

*Editor’s note: Late Wednesday, Mariposa County became the 17th California county approved to move to stage 2.5.

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