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Will Fresno County Reopen Under Newsom's New Guidelines?
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By Bill McEwen, News Director
Published 4 years ago on
May 18, 2020

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Two Fresno County supervisors said Monday afternoon they’re hopeful the county can meet new guidelines to reopen announced by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“I think we’ll be able to meet them,” said board chairman Buddy Mendes. “I think we will be opening up — allowing restaurants, barbers and beauticians to get back to work. Many barbers and beauticians have been working at home. They might as well work where we can see them.”

Official portrait of Buddy Mendes

“I think we’ll be able to meet them. I think we will be opening up — allowing restaurants, barbers and beauticians to get back to work.” — Buddy Mendes, chairman, Fresno County Board of Supervisors 

Supervisor Steve Brandau said that county leaders “are very hopeful” of meeting the state’s new criteria.

“We are resubmitting documents addressing (the governor’s) new parameters,” Brandau said.

During his daily briefing Monday, Newsom said that he expected 53 of the state’s 58 counties to move forward on reopening economies shackled by his COVID-19 stay-at-home order.

Initially, county leaders hoped to learn the fate of their reopening effort as early as this afternoon, Brandau said, but the state canceled a planned call with the county’s public health team.

LA, Tulare, Kings Counties Might Have to Wait

Newsom didn’t say which five counties he expected to fall short on the latest guidelines. But he pointed to Los Angeles, Kings, and Tulare counties as being among those facing challenges. He cited Tulare due to cases at skilled nursing facilities and Kings because of infections at meatpacking plants.

Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous and with the most coronavirus cases, faces broader challenges, Newsom said.

“Just because we’re creating the capacity and the availability to move into Phase 2 doesn’t mean that every county is ready,” Newsom said. “Los Angeles County, as an example, I imagine will be cautious if that respect.”

The New Criteria

The new criteria eliminate requirements that a county have zero deaths and no more than than one case per 10,000 residents over a two-week period. Instead, counties must have no more than 25 cases per 100,000 residents or no higher than an 8% positive rate among people testing for the coronavirus.

The new criteria eliminate requirements that a county have zero deaths and no more than than one case per 10,000 residents over a two-week period.

They also must have no higher than a 5% increase in hospitalizations over a seven-day period or fewer than 20 hospitalizations total over 14 days. The latter ensures that small counties don’t get penalized for one or two extra hospitalizations.

Other criteria on hospital capacity, testing and tracing remain in place.

Mendes said that he thinks Newsom is relaxing some of his previously hard-and-fast guidelines because California has ample ICU capacity to absorb a surge in COVID-19 infected individuals with serious illnesses.

In addition, the governor has faced increasing pressure from officials up and down the state to allow more businesses to reopen and get the economy moving again.

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Bill McEwen,
News Director
Bill McEwen is news director and columnist for GV Wire. He joined GV Wire in August 2017 after 37 years at The Fresno Bee. With The Bee, he served as Opinion Editor, City Hall reporter, Metro columnist, sports columnist and sports editor through the years. His work has been frequently honored by the California Newspapers Publishers Association, including authoring first-place editorials in 2015 and 2016. Bill and his wife, Karen, are proud parents of two adult sons, and they have two grandsons. You can contact Bill at 559-492-4031 or at Send an Email

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