Tag Archives: Coronavirus COVID 19

Governor’s latest COVID-19 announcement – religious services, cultural ceremonies, protests and retail

Counties Statewide Can Reopen Places of Worship for Religious Services and Retail Stores

Press Release May 25, 2020
Number: NR20-100
Contact: CDPHpress@cdph.ca.gov

  • Modifications Required to Protect Californians against COVID-19
  • Places of Worship Should Limit Attendance to 25% of Total Capacity or a Maximum of 100 Attendees
  • Retail Guidance for In-Store Shopping, Already in Place for Certain Counties, Now Applies Statewide

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Public Health today announced the statewide reopening of places of worship for religious services and in-store retail shopping. Modifications are required to keep Californians safe and limit the spread of COVID-19. Subject to approval by county public health departments, all retail stores can reopen for in-store shopping under previously issued guidelines. Under new guidance, places of worship can hold religious services and funerals that limit attendance to 25% of a building’s capacity – or up to 100 attendees, whichever is lower – upon approval by the county department of public health.

While the vast majority of large gatherings remain prohibited under the state’s stay-at-home order, the Department of Public Health has released guidelines for in-person protests and events designed for political expression. The guidance limits attendance to 25% of an area’s maximum occupancy – or up to 100 attendees.

“Together, our actions have helped bend the curve and reduce infections in our state. As sectors continue to open with changes that aim to lower risk, remember that COVID-19 is still present in our communities,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health. “As more of us may be leaving our homes, keeping physical distance, wearing face coverings in public, and washing your hands frequently are more important than ever to help protect yourself and those around you.”

The new (PDF) guidance for religious services and cultural ceremonies encourages organizations to continue online services and activities, including to protect individuals who are most at risk for more severe COVID-19, including older adults and people with specific medical conditions.

To reopen for religious services and funerals, places of worship must:

  • Establish and implement a COVID-19 prevention plan for every location, train staff on the plan, and regularly evaluate workplaces for compliance.
  • Train employees and volunteers on COVID-19, including how to prevent it from spreading and which underlying health conditions may make individuals more susceptible to contracting the virus.
  • Implement cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
  • Set physical distancing guidelines.
  • Recommend that staff and guests wear cloth face coverings, and screen staff for temperature and symptoms at the beginning of their shifts.
  • Set parameters around or consider eliminating singing and group recitations. These activities dramatically increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission. For this reason, congregants engaging in singing, particularly in the choir, and group recitation should wear face coverings at all times and when possible, these activities should be conducted outside with greater than 6-foot distancing.

The existing (PDF) guidance for retailers, previously allowed for counties approved to advance in the reopening process, now applies statewide. Retail can now open for in-store shopping statewide. The guidelines help reduce the risk for workers and customers. Retail does not include personal services such as hair salons, nail salons and barbershops.

In 21 days, the Department of Public Health, in consultation with local departments of public health, will review and assess the impact of the religious services guidelines and provide further direction as part of a phased-in restoration of activities. This 21-day interval accounts for seven days for religious communities to prepare and reopen in addition to a 14-day incubation period of COVID-19.

More information about the state’s COVID-19 guidance is on the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance web page.

More information about reopening California and what individuals can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) in California.

Additional Resources

Benicia retired pastor to friends and neighbors: DON’T GO TO RELIGIOUS SERVICES!

[Editor: Well, if you didn’t know, I’m the retired pastor.  And I don’t even know if any of Benicia’s anti-mask-don’t-tread-on-me folks are planning to attend religious services.  But if they are… DON’T JOIN THEM, DON’T GO!  The story below is living, coughing, deadly proof from nearby.  Oh, and… most faith communities are streaming worship, and the Governor has just today issued new guidelines for very limited religious gatherings, including funerals.  – R.S.]

More cases connected with worship services in Mendocino, Butte counties

San Francisco Chronicle, by Bob Egelko , Kate Galbraith and Lauren Hernández May 24, 2020
Bishop Marc Andrus bows before the altar while rehearsing virtual Easter Sunday service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, April 12, 2020.
Bishop Marc Andrus bows before the altar while rehearsing virtual Easter Sunday service at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, April 12, 2020. Photo: Scott Strazzante / The Chronicle

As religious leaders await new rules from Gov. Gavin Newsom that could allow houses of worship to reopen with social-distancing adjustments, concern is mounting in Mendocino and Butte counties as more coronavirus cases tied to churches there have emerged.

Mendocino County health officer Dr. Noemi Doohan said Friday that her county’s six most recent confirmed cases were all connected to an outbreak at Redwood Valley Assembly of God. The county had previously reported that three people — including the pastor — who participated in a live-streamed Mother’s Day service at the church had contracted the virus. Most parishioners did not attend the service in person.

“When we have an outbreak of such a large magnitude, it’s very concerning because we know that these individuals have had other contacts since contracting the disease,” Doohan said.

In addition, a second case out of a Butte County Mother’s Day church service has emerged, according to the Chico Enterprise-Record. More than 180 people attended the service, which was held in violation of the state’s shelter-in-place orders. One attendee had tested positive not long after the service. On Thursday, county Public Information Officer Lisa Almaguer said a second person tested positive, the Enterprise-Record reported.

Butte County has 34 coronavirus cases. Dr. Andy Miller, the county health officer, said in a video update Friday that Butte officials have seen a “pretty dramatic increase in cases,” though he did not say whether any additional cases were connected with the church.

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to announce a schedule Monday for the resumption of in-person services, with social-distancing adjustments. But that is not soon enough for some California pastors, who want to be able to hold services at a time of rising spiritual needs.

On Friday, a divided federal appeals court refused to order Newsom to allow in-person services at this stage of the pandemic.

Over a dissent by an appointee of President Trump, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied an injunction sought by a Pentecostal church and its pastor in San Diego County, who argued that Newsom was violating freedom of religion by refusing to allow churches and other places of worship to reopen.

Upholding a federal judge’s refusal to allow immediate reopening of the South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista, the appeals court said Newsom’s decisions have not selectively targeted or burdened religious conduct.

“We’re dealing here with a highly contagious and often fatal disease for which there is presently no known cure,” Judges Barry Silverman and Jacqueline Nguyen said in the 2-1 ruling.

In dissent, Judge Daniel Collins said the state was probably violating the religious freedom of the church, its pastor and members.

Newsom’s defenders are making an “extraordinary claim that the current emergency gives the governor the power to restrict any and all constitutional rights, as long as he has acted in ‘good faith,’” Collins said.

City of Benicia: Solano County recommends use of cloth face coverings when social distancing measures are difficult to maintain

Benicia Announcements, Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 5:15 PM

Solano County posted a press release today recommending the use of cloth face coverings when social distancing measure are difficult to maintain.

“It is important to remember that while we are all working together to reopen retail shops, malls and dine-in restaurants, the coronavirus is still here in Solano County,” says Bela T. Matyas, M.D., M.P.H, Solano County Public Health Officer.

“Wearing a cloth face covering, as recommended by the CDC and CDPH, is an additional way to protect yourself and others and can help slow the spread of the disease. Also, we ask that people wear non-surgical, non-N-95 respirator face masks, as those are critical supplies that must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.”

Solano County encourages wearing a cloth face mask outside your home whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained, maintaining a physical distance of six-feet from others, practicing coughing and sneezing etiquette, using a hand sanitizer or washing your hands for at least 20-seconds and to stay at home if you’re not feeling well. Businesses that are permitted to reopen must abide by the social distancing requirements in the County’s and State’s Orders.

Additional information is available in the press release at http://www.solanocounty.com/news/displaynews.asp?NewsID=2297&TargetID=1

For more information about Solano County’s Roadmap to Recovery, social distancing protocol and frequently asked questions about the phased reopening, visit the Solano County website at www.SolanoCounty.com/COVID19 and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/SolanoCountyPH.

You could get a phone call this week from a COVID-19 tracer…and you could volunteer to be one!

Newsom pushes virus contact tracing with first batch of tracers

Vallejo Times-Herald, by Fiona Kelliher, May 24, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom, news conference at Mustards Grill in Napa, Calif., Monday May 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, Pool) 

A batch of about 500 people will be deployed this week statewide for contact tracing, the public health practice that involves tracking down people who have come in contact with COVID-19 patients.

Starting this week, the tracers will begin calling, texting and emailing those who may have been exposed to coronavirus, encouraging them to quarantine or recommending medical care, according to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office. Meanwhile, Californians may notice new radio, television and billboard campaigns that aim to up awareness of contact tracing and urge people to pick up the phone. Tracers will be identified as part of the “CA COVID Team” — an effort led by the California Public Health Department — when texting or calling, and will not share health information with outside entities.

The tracers are the first batch toward a goal of 10,000 statewide, according to Newsom’s office. It’s not exactly clear how those tracers will work in tandem with local health departments’ own contact tracing programs.

Working with the University of California, San Francisco and Los Angeles, the state began developing an online training program earlier this month to get the tracers up to speed. Another 300 tracers will be trained this week, Newsom’s office said.


Governor Newsom Launches Contact Tracing Program

Gov Press Release,

Governor asks Californians to answer the call to help keep our families and communities healthy and on the path to reopening

SACRAMENTO – In the ongoing efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Governor Gavin Newsom today launched California Connected, the state’s comprehensive contact tracing program and public awareness campaign. As part of California Connected, public health workers from communities across the state will connect with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and work with them, and people they have been in close contact with, to ensure they have access to confidential testing, as well as medical care and other services to help prevent the spread of the virus.

The state’s program is led by the Administration in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health, local public health departments and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and Los Angeles (UCLA), which have launched a robust online training academy to develop a culturally competent and skilled contact tracing workforce.

“We are all eager to get back to work and play, and that’s why we’re asking Californians to answer the call when they see their local public health department reaching out by phone, email or text,” said Governor Newsom. “That simple action of answering the call could save lives and help keep our families and communities healthy.”

To prevent the spread of this virus, public health workers will connect Californians with confidential testing. They may also recommend medical care,

and that individuals who could be infectious separate themselves from others in their home to protect those around them. Information provided to local public health departments is confidential under California law. Public health authorities will not share that information with outside entities. That information will be used for public health purposes only. Contact tracers will not ask for financial information, social security numbers or immigration status.

“A key step in stopping the spread of COVID-19 is quickly identifying and limiting new cases, across the diversity of our populations – and that’s exactly what this statewide program does,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, California Department of Public Health Director and State Health Officer. “We are bringing together the best minds in public health, academia and private industry to design a program that can help lower the risk for COVID-19 in all of our communities and keep us on the path to reopening.”

The California Connected public awareness campaign is getting off the ground this week with support from multiple private partners who have committed a total of $5.1 million in funding and in-kind resources to help educate all Californians, and underserved communities in particular. These partners include Jeff Skoll and his organizations (The Skoll Foundation, Participant, and Ending Pandemics), The California Health Care Foundation, The California Endowment, Twitter and Facebook, in addition to existing media partners engaged in the larger public awareness effort.

Beginning this week, Californians across the state will hear radio ads and see billboards, social media posts and videos in multiple languages encouraging them to answer the call to slow the spread of COVID-19. Public health workers across the state – identified on caller ID as the “CA COVID Team” – will call, text and email individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and people they may have unknowingly exposed to the virus.

The state plans to launch 10,000 contact tracers statewide as part of its plan to reopen California. More than 500 individuals have been trained under the new contact tracing program, and more than 300 are being trained this week.

To streamline and coordinate these efforts, Accenture, a leading global professional services company, is launching a data management platform developed by Salesforce and contact capabilities (phone calls, texts and emails) in collaboration with Amazon Web Service’s Amazon Connect. These organizations have already successfully implemented a large-scale contact tracing effort in Massachusetts.

More information: CaliforniaConnected.ca.gov.

A PSA from Director of the California Department of Public Health Dr. Sonia Angell can be found here. Watch the California Connected PSA in English here and in Spanish here. An infographic and other content can be found here.

Additional Resources:

UCSF Online Training Academy

UCLA Online Training Academy

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