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California sees no link from school openings to virus spread

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California has not seen a link between the reopening of K-12 schools for in-person learning and increased coronavirus transmission, the state’s top public health official said Tuesday.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state’s Health and Human Services secretary, told reporters that officials have been closely watching the return to classrooms in counties where it has been allowed. He said it can take time for trends to emerge, but so far, the results are encouraging.

“We have not seen a connection between increased transmission and school reopening or in-person learning,” Ghaly said. “We’re looking at the information to see if there is a connection, and so far we have not found one.”


California requires counties to report coronavirus levels and infection rates below certain thresholds before they can allow K-12 schools to broadly reopen for in-person instruction. On Tuesday, 32 of the state’s 58 counties were deemed eligible to do so — up from 28 a week earlier.

Counties must meet the threshold for at least two weeks before schools are allowed to reopen. Yuba County, about 140 miles northeast of San Francisco, met the threshold for the first time on Tuesday.

The county is preparing to reopen schools by limiting the number of students in each classroom to make sure people can stay at least 6 feet (1.8 meters) away from each other, Yuba County Superintendent of Schools Francisco Reveles said.

Reveles said students would likely come to school in groups, with some groups attending in the morning while others attend in the afternoon.

“We’re in a different environment now,” he said. “Even though we can open up, there’s certain precautions we need to continue taking.”

The state has seen a broad decline in the number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in recent weeks. While some areas are seeing an increase in infections, the state’s overall case numbers have fallen since a surge over the summer following the initial reopening of various business sectors.

California reported a seven-day average of 3,005 new virus cases on Tuesday and a seven-day positivity rate of 2.6%, Ghaly said.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Schools have been allowed to reopen in many smaller California counties as well as more populated ones such as Orange and San Diego. In those counties still barred from resuming broad in-person instruction, some schools have obtained special waivers from the state to let elementary students return to classrooms, and many campuses throughout the state have resumed in-person special education classes and day care programs.

Los Angeles County, which has the largest population in the state, still can’t broadly allow for in-person instruction, but this week began taking applications for limited waivers to reopen transitional kindergarten through second grade classrooms.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to

LA Sees Rash Of Reopenings, But New Rule May Stall More Openings

LOS ANGELES, CA — Angelenos can once again get their nails done indoors, and next week they’ll be able to shop at indoor malls again, as the Los Angeles emerges from the summer lockdown. However, a new state requirement may put the brakes on LA’s fledgling reopening.

California issued a new requirement for reopening, forcing large counties to address coronavirus infections in the hardest hit communities, which tend to be poor and minority communities. The measure, which goes into effect later this week, would require counties to invest in testing and contact tracing, while helping infected people to isolate, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the meantime, county health officials Thursday allowed salons to offer indoor services at 25% capacity. Though it’s allowed, health officials strongly encouraged salons to keep working outdoors as a safety measure.

Card rooms can reopen with outdoor operations only beginning Monday, minus food and beverage service. Indoor shopping malls can open their doors Wednesday, also at 25% of capacity, but food courts must remain closed. Nail salons that reopen indoors were encouraged to continue offering outdoor service as much as possible.

Health officials said they are still working with county attorneys to finalize plans for the reopening outdoor beverage service — with food sold by third-party providers — at breweries and wineries. That process is expected to be “completed in a week,” according to the county.

Outdoor playgrounds can open at the discretion of individual cities, but visitors over age 2 must wear face coverings and adult supervision and physical distancing will be required.

Schools that want to provide in-person instruction for students in pre- kindergarten through second-grade can submit applications to the county for waivers beginning Monday. Waivers will be limited to 30 schools per week, with priority given to campuses in the generally lowest-income areas.

Schools that are granted waivers will have to limit groups of students to no more than 12, and no more than two supervising adults in each classroom. Those teacher-student groups must remain together for the entire day “for all activities,” according to the county.

Complete safety protocols for all reopening businesses will be posted on the county’s website. Public health director Barbara Ferrer said Wednesday strict adherence to the protocols is essential to ensuring infection control and the continues operations of the businesses.

“We have determined that with really good adherence — and this is critical — to the directives that are in place, these are activities that we think can be done with a lot of safety,” Ferrer said. “And if they’re done with a lot of safety we’re hopeful that we won’t see a big surge in cases. It’s pretty easy to know when things aren’t going well because our cases tend to increase within a couple of weeks.”

Ferrer noted Wednesday that the county was moving ahead with the openings despite seeing a recent uptick in daily COVID-19 case numbers and the local transmission rate. She warned in a statement Thursday that