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Two More California Counties To Re-Open In Defiance Of Governor’s Order
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 13: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the California State Capitol on March 13, 2019 in Sacramento, California. Newsom announced today a moratorium on California's death penalty. California has 737 people on death row, the largest death row population in the United States.
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Two more California counties have decided to re-open with social distancing measures in defiance of the governor’s stay-at-home order, which Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has said takes precedence over any county directives. 

The neighboring counties of Yuba and Sutter in Northern California appear to have followed in the steps of Modoc County, which announced earlier this week that it would begin to re-open businesses with modifications, such as half-capacity seating for dine-in restaurants. 

“This is a time for personal responsibility in minimizing our movements and physical interactions,” said the Yuba County public health office. “It is up to all of us to show respect for each other’s health and safety by adhering to guidance on facial coverings, social distancing, small group gatherings, and good hand hygiene.”

In a statement on Friday, Yuba-Sutter County health officer Dr. Phuong Luu said that waiting to re-open would exacerbate economic and health problems, unrelated to coronavirus, in the two communities. 

“We cannot wait for a vaccine without seeing extreme economic damage done to our community,” said Dr. Luu. “The consequences of waiting will be additional health concerns brought on by stress and the very real dilemma for those with limited resources whether to buy life-saving food or life-saving medicines.”

The order, which will take effect on Monday, categorizes businesses based on a risk threshold instead of calling them “essential” or “non-essential.” 

The public health office says these new designations will allow businesses that have both “low-medium risk for contact intensity” and “low-medium risk for number of contacts,” including restaurants, gyms, and barbershops, to open as long as they adopt appropriate public health measures. 

“The new local order places a lot of responsibility on the citizens and business owners of Yuba and Sutter counties to make good decisions,” said Dr. Luu. “Please don’t take the change of rules in the new order as a signal we are out of the woods and to act irresponsibly.”

The two counties have a combined population of about 175,000 people, and as of Friday, they reported a total of 50 coronavirus cases, 36 recoveries, and 3 deaths. 

Politico reports that Gov. Newsom has so far declined to comment about whether he would enforce the state’s public health measures on counties that adopt looser guidelines. 

In a press conference on Thursday during which the governor appeared to stand down from an anticipated declaration that would close every beach and state park in California Newsom declined to affirmatively answer a question about Modoc County planning to re-open ahead of the statewide timeline. 

“The stay-at-home order overlays all the orders in the state. You can go further, and be more prescriptive and restrictive, but when you loosen up and you loosen beyond the California [orders], then it’s in conflict, and there it becomes a challenge,” said Newsom.

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