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Why isn't Sacramento County on the list of counties that can reopen before the state?

If criteria are not adjusted for bigger counties, will the county modify the stay-at-home order for Sacramento County? The short answer is "yes."


Sacramento County was not on the list announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday of counties that would be allowed to reopen faster. And the county wasn’t on the list when it expanded on Wednesday to nearly 20.

But why wasn’t the county that ranks among the lowest in infection rate and deaths for large metropolitan areas across the country allowed to jump deeper in Phase 2 of the state’s reopening plan?

ABC10 spoke to Sacramento County’s Public Health Director Dr. Peter Beilenson about what steps the county needs to do to make sure it’s on the list sooner rather than later. 

Q: Why is Sacramento County not reopening before the state like other surrounding counties are?

For a California county to reopen before the state, the county has to have zero deaths within the last two weeks. Public Health Officer Peter Beilenson says that Sacramento County does not meet the death criteria.

He added that it is unrealistic for a large county to meet that guideline.

"The one criteria we don’t meet is the deaths in the last 14 days," Beilenson said. "But all of the deaths we've had in the last 14 days, as tragic as they are, have been in long term care facilities. So, in some ways, they aren't really community-based transmission as much as other types of transmission."

Q: If criteria are not adjusted for bigger counties, will the county modify the stay-at-home order for Sacramento County?

The short answer is "yes," Dr. Beilenson said. When the stay-at-home order expires, the county will likely adjust the order to allow more curbside pick-up options for restaurants and retail.

"We will come back with an order next week which will incorporate some of the changes the governor did allow large counties, like curbside pick up of florist, retail, and book stores," Beilenson said.

Q: How will small businesses be affected if Sacramento County does not get the green light to reopen?

Dr. Beilenson says that small businesses could suffer if they can not reopen due to shoppers taking their business to the smaller counties surrounding Sacramento County that are allowed to reopen before the state.

"We are actually surrounded by counties — Butte, Sutter, El Dorado, Placer — that are able to reopen, and we will not be able to potentially and will lose business to those counties," Beilenson said.

Follow the conversation on Facebook with Monica Coleman.



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WATCH MORE: California Coronavirus Latest | Gov. Newsom Briefing (May 13, 2020)