Solano Supervisors to allow some businesses to open Thurs, deviating from State coronavirus guidelines

[Editor: View video of the Board’s discussion and vote: Solano County Board of Supervisors hears verbal COVID update and votes to open some businesses.  – R.S.]

Solano may open some businesses as early as Thursday, more next week

Fairfield Daily Republic, By Todd R. Hansen, May 5, 2020
The Solano Town Center parking remains almost empty Tuesday, May 5, 2020. The Solano Board of Supervisors approved a draft guide Tuesday for re-opening certain businesses as early as Thursday, May 7, 2020. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — Business offices, some retail outlets and manufacturing sites could open as early as Thursday, and even more businesses – including restaurants, salons and dentists – may be opened next week.

The phasing largely depends on the risk those businesses’ operations create for further spread of the novel coronavirus – whether because of the proximity of customers to each other, or because the nature of the business requires direct contact with clients.

The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a draft guide for reopening the business community, and in some cases, it deviates from the state guidelines.

Dr. Bela Matyas

That deviation is one of the reasons Dr. Bela Matyas, the county public health officer, sought the board’s consensus. He said he did not object to taking those steps, but wanted the board’s backing.

“Our goal should not be to lock people up in their homes, but to stop the transmission (of the virus) person to person,” Matyas said.

The county will still require businesses to adhere to social distancing and other regulations, including the use of barriers in some instances. The businesses will also have to post what they are doing to meet the county directives.

Just how well this transition works will depend greatly on the businesses, but also the common sense of customers and clients.

“I can issue the guidelines, but I cannot make people follow them,” Matyas said.

He advised anyone who feels uncomfortable about going to the businesses when they reopen to just not go.

Supervisor Jim Spering

Supervisor Jim Spering also said the directives should include a warning for those high-risk populations, most notably seniors with underlying health issues – to stay home until a final all-clear is issued.

The county will spend the next day or two rewriting the stay-at-home heath order to reflect the policy decision, just as it did for Friday’s action to open up most outdoor activities. Community pools and beaches, however, remain closed.

Those activities, such as playgrounds and large gatherings, will have to wait.

“The higher risk (activity) is going to have to wait until I believe there is no longer a significant transmission (rate) in our community,” Matyas said.

The Public Health Division will come back to the board Tuesday with a recommendation on what are viewed as medium-risk businesses and activities.

Supervisor Monica Brown. (Robinson
Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Supervisor Monica Brown said she would hope a mandate for face masks will be part of that, but other supervisors indicated they were not willing to support that for a variety of reasons, one of which is not everyone has a mask.

However, everyone agreed that even if masks are not mandated, anyone who wants to wear one, should.

“I’m not going to feel safer when (businesses) reopen,” Brown said. “I see us having a second and third wave (of a disease outbreak) . . . so I’m going to be wearing a mask.”

Another issue that was raised was child supervision.

As more people return to work – because schools are closed and most day care centers have also been shuttered – what is to be done with children who would be left without supervision?

Although some programs have been operating day care in a limited capacity, the board was told that even at its full capacity, Solano County did not have enough day care providers anyway.

The board was told that steps are being taken to help with day care issues, and some funding is being made available to help providers.

Getting people back to work is viewed as a critical part of determining what kind of fallout there will be from the Covid-19 crisis.

“Jobs are going to be the biggest thing,” Robert Eyler, president of Economic Forensics and Analytics out of Petaluma, said in his presentation on the annual Index of Economic and Community Progress. “Job losses can beget business losses.”

What was going to be a glowing report on Solano County’s economy from 2019 and projecting forward, is now a series of unknowns about how the economy is going to respond to what amounts to a virus-caused recession.

Just how deep of a hole that Solano County, the state and the nation will have to climb out of depends on a variety of factors. Eyler said the county could be looking at the loss of five years of economic progress.

However, it was also noted that unlike most recessions when the reaction period is defined in months or even years, in this situation, the policy reaction was really a matter of weeks.

“We (started) this crisis in a very good situation,” Eyler said.

For one thing, it was noted, there has also been a huge influx of government money to offset some of the problems, and even more funding is expected. What impact that funding will have is one of the unknowns, but Eyler said the best scenario is that it will lessen the shock.

“It may not feel like we are back until 2022,” said Eyler, who added that could extend out to 2023.

The deaths of six people have thus far been attributed in Solano County to Covid-19 since the novel coronavirus pandemic made its way to the region.

Most people who have the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, Covid-19, experience only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. Some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health problems, experience more severe illness such as pneumonia and at times, death.

The vast majority of people recover. The World Health Organization reports people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.