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Salons, Barbershops Have Become ‘Go-To Sacrificial Lambs to the COVID Gods’ Attorney Says



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Fresno County health officials believes the California’s recently announced COVID shut down order is all but certain to happen, it’s only a matter of time.

“I won’t be surprised if it’s in the next couple of days,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra during a Friday morning call with reporters.

Meanwhile, Bay Area news reports say Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Santa Clara, San Francisco counties have announced their jurisdictions will enact California’s regional stay-at-home order beginning Sunday night and will not wait until their region falls below the 15 percent available ICU capacity that would trigger the three-week stay-at-home order.

Vohra says Fresno County will wait for the regional threshold set forth by the Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Newsom’s public health order takes effect at 12:59 p.m. Saturday. Thereafter, if a region falls below the 15 percent ICU threshold, it will have 24 hours to implement the stay at home order. The order requires the closure of hair salons and barber shops, limits retail stores to 20% capacity and only allows restaurants to offer take-out and delivery.

The restrictions will remain in effect for at least 3 weeks.

Dr. Rais Vohra

“I won’t be surprised if it’s in the next couple of days.”– Dr. Rais Vohra on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s new stay at home order. 

The San Joaquin Valley region encompasses a dozen counties from Kern in the south to San Joaquin in the north. Current available ICU capacity in the region was reported to be 19.70% as of Thursday.

Representatives of some business groups are again expressing their displeasure over the renewed restrictions. The Professional Beauty Federation of California says Newsom is unfairly picking on small businesses that are less financed and politically connected.

Salons and Barbershops

“We are beginning to conclude that our small businesses, less financed and politically connected, have become the go-to sacrificial lambs to the COVID gods.”Professional Beauty Federation of California attorney Fred Jones

The latest shutdown order would be the third of its kind to impact salons and barbershops since the state’s April 28 phased reopening plan.

“(It) is based on a new and singular statistic and gauged on a regional basis instead of County-by-County,” says beauty federation attorney Fred Jones in a statement. “The 15% ICU capacity threshold was clearly chosen to be a hair trigger, as all five regions are anticipated to reach that level within days, forcing the closure of our entire industry.”

Jones says a vast majority of the industry is made-up of women-owned and operated businesses, including a large percentage of first generation immigrants and those from the LGBT community.

“We are beginning to conclude that our small businesses, less financed and politically connected, have become the go-to sacrificial lambs to the COVID gods whenever the health officers are told by their elected bosses to aggressively address the latest spike,” said Jones.

Retail Capacity Reduced to 20%

Once the stay at order goes into affect, retail stores must reduce their indoor customer capacity to 20% — down from 50% for grocery stores and 25% for all other retailers in counties assigned to the state’s “purple” tier. Entrance metering is required and no eating or drinking is permitted inside stores. Additionally, the order encourages special shopping hours be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.

GV Wire℠ reached out to media relations representatives for Target, Costco, Trader Joe’s, Savemart and Walmart to see how this would impact their operations.

Only Walmart responded in time for publication.

“Walmart began limiting capacity in our stores to 20% in early April, or lower if mandated by a local government, and that limit has remained in place since then,” said Casey Staheli, Walmart’s national media relations manager. We know from months of metering data in our stores that the vast majority of the time our stores didn’t reach our self-imposed 20% metering capacity. Out of an abundance of caution, we have resumed counting the number of people entering and leaving our stores.”

Walmart resumed counting customers on November 14th, Staheli said. He also said Walmart has seen an increase in customers using the chain’s online grocery ordering and pickup service over the past 8 months.

Fresno County COVID-19 Vaccine Shipment

“Our whole plan is not designed to store a bunch of vaccine. Our plan is to distribute the vaccine and inoculate our community.”– Fresno County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado

Fresno County Community Health Division Manager Joe Prado is engineering the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

The county’s initial allotment is 7,800 doses, with another 40,000 expected by the end of December, officials have said. County officials say they’ve received no word on when and how much of Moderna’s vaccine will be coming. Both vaccines are awaiting emergency approval for use by the federal government.

“Our whole plan is not designed to store a bunch of vaccine,” said Prado. “Our plan is to distribute the vaccine and inoculate our community.”

The Pfizer vaccine needs to be stored at minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit. The county acquired one freezer capable of storing at that temperature about 4 months ago, department staff say, and have since found others that have the capacity necessary to store the anticipated vaccine doses.

Coalinga Hospital Reopened This Week

The Coalinga Regional Medical Center just opened up for operations this week. The hospital is located near the Pleasant Valley State Prison which has recently experienced a COVID-19 outbreak among 153 prisoners.

While it’s a small hospital, it has an emergency department, it has hospital beds and it has skilled nursing facilities,” said Vohra. “I think (it’s) one silver lining that we had this week that we do have another acute care hospital here in Fresno County that patients, whether they’re incarcerated or not, can count on for care.”