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Masks to become part of life in California, but rules vary | Local coronavirus updates

For Californians venturing outside, donning a mask will be common, but rules about face coverings vary, and it's unclear what enforcement might look like.

SACRAMENTO COUNTY, Calif. — Here are the latest updates on coronavirus and how local governments are responding to the illness, with a focus on California for Thursday, May 7.


The California Department of Public Health reports:

  • Confirmed cases: 60,614 (As of May 6).
  • 2,504 deaths
  • 25 state and county labs processing tests for COVID-19
  • Click here for complete information on coronavirus, unemployment, and more from the state of California.


  • Masks to become part of life in California, but rules vary: For Californians venturing outside, donning a mask will be as common as putting on a cap or sunglasses when the state begins gradually easing stay-at-home orders. But rules about face coverings vary, and it’s unclear what enforcement might look like. Masks have been ubiquitous at essential businesses like grocery stores and medical clinics since the early days of the pandemic. Now they will be required for customers and employees at certain retailers reopening under new guidelines that also include contact-free transactions. Authorities hope people will be amenable to the rules, because they don't want to issue citations during a public health crisis.
  • Is this allowed? Confusing rules, enforcement in California: California has seen an on-again, off-again patchwork of enforcement of Gov. Gavin Newsom's orders designed to limit the spread of the coronavirus. It’s fallen to local officials to both interpret and enforce rapidly evolving rules, with state and local orders often at odds. Newsom outlined more guidelines Thursday on how local governments can gradually allow businesses to reopen. But enforcement has been spotty at best and often confusing as local governments layer rules on top of statewide mandates. Some restaurants have reopened, only to be shuttered the following day. Most law enforcement agencies say they're using a light touch.
  • California lets retailers reopen, dining in may come soon: California retailers and manufacturers can reopen as soon as Friday under a new plan by Gov. Gavin Newsom aimed at easing the state's stay-at-home coronavirus order. His plan released Thursday allows some counties to go further by opening restaurants for dining, but only if the counties can meet strict thresholds. They include recording zero virus deaths over a 14-day period and just one case per 10,000 residents over the same time period. Retailers that do reopen are expected to take precautions such as only allowing curbside pickup, checking employees for virus symptoms and providing them with face masks.  
  • A Sacramento County Main Jail inmate was released Wednesday after testing positive for the coronavirus, said Sgt. Tess Deterding, a spokesperson for the Sacramento County Sheriff's Officer. Deterding said that the female inmate tested positive during a 7-day intake, and she "had no contact with any current inmates." In March, the sheriff's office announced that it would release some non-violent, low-level inmates following a court order to help mitigate the spread of the virus in the facilities. The woman who was released was the first reported case of the virus at both the main jail and the Rio Cosumnes Correctional Center in Elk Grove.
  • Two new deaths and 11 additional cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Sacramento County in the past 24 hours, according to the latest numbers from the public health department. The county’s total COVID-19 case county now stands 1,153. The news of two new deaths attributed to the disease breaks up a 48-hour period where no deaths occurred, according to the health department’s numbers. The majority of the confirmed cases are in the 18 to 49 age group with 508 confirmed cases. All the patients who have died from COVID-19 were 65 or old and/or had an underlying health condition, the health department said. More than half of the cases and deaths are in the city of Sacramento.
  • California to get $247M refund as masks face delivery delay: California will get a $247 million refund because of delayed delivery of protective masks it ordered under a deal with a Chinese manufacturer. A state spokesman said Wednesday that the N95 respirator masks failed to meet an April 30 deadline for U.S. federal certification. The state disclosed the refund when it released the nearly $1 billion contract with BYD, a Chinese-based electric vehicle company now making masks. Tens of millions of masks were set to arrive in California this month. The company now has until May 31 to get certification and must refund the rest of the state's up-front payment if it fails to meet that deadline.
  • Reopening plan has big changes for California restaurants: California restaurants have drafted a plan they hope will guide the mostly idled industry's reopening. The recommendations obtained by The Associated Press envision a changed world within dining rooms, as an industry built on face-to-face contact looks for ways to safely conduct business and avoid spreading the coronavirus. The plan from the California Restaurant Association will be submitted to Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday. It suggests servers wear masks, recommends eliminating buffets and salad bars, and calls for far more cleaning. The association hopes to avoid a requirement that customers have their temperature taken and the number of tables be dramatically limited. 
  • Mall reopens as rural California counties defy virus order: Hundreds of shoppers — many not wearing masks — streamed into the first California mall to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a warning from the local public health director. Doors opened Wednesday at Yuba Sutter Mall. It's in rural Sutter County, which along with adjacent Yuba County have defied the governor by allowing many businesses to reopen. Hours after the mall opened, the county health officer sent a letter to businesses saying it had become clear that some weren't following rules that she issued requiring masks and social distancing. She urged compliance and warned failure to follow the rules could bring a return of the virus and stricter regulations. 
  • California Department of Public Health released a tool to help people find a testing site closest to them. On the interactive website, a person could enter the address or zip code for where they would like to be tested, and the site populates the various locations available. This site also provides information on how to sign up for an appointment to get tested.


Coronavirus Background

According to the CDC, coronavirus (COVID-19) is a family of viruses that is spreadable from person to person. Coronavirus is believed to have been first detected in a seafood market in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. If someone is sick with coronavirus, the symptoms they may show include mild to severe respiratory illness, cough, and difficulty breathing.

Currently, there is no vaccine; however, the CDC suggests the following precautions, along with any other respiratory illness:

  1. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  2. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  3. Stay home when you are sick.
  4. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  5. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  6. Wash your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds.


Some people have compared the low overall death toll to the flu's high annual death toll in the United States as a reason not to be concerned about COVID-19, however, doctors and health officials are concerned for three main reasons:

  1. Some people have built up immunity to the flu, but few have immunity to COVID-19 version of coronavirus
  2. Both the flu and COVID-19 are spread by droplets, but COVID-19 might be spread in the air. Scientists are researching exactly how COVID-19 spreads.
  3. The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public where social distancing measures would be difficult to maintain, like at a grocery store or pharmacy.



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