The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced on Monday that the regional stay-at-home order has been lifted for all regions of the state, including the San Joaquin Valley Region, which includes Calaveras County.
“Officials with the CDPH today ended the regional stay-at-home order, lifting the order for all regions statewide, including the three regions that had still been under the order—San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and Southern California,” a press release from CDPH reads. “Four-week ICU capacity projections for these three regions are above 15%, the threshold that allows regions to exit the order. The Sacramento Region exited the order on Jan. 12 and the Northern California region never entered the order.”
Counties which were under the regional stay-at-home order will now revert to the rules and framework of California’s Blueprint for a Safer Economy, which bases restrictions on individual county case rates and test positivity. The majority of counties, including Calaveras, are currently in the most restrictive, “widespread” tier.
“Californians heard the urgent message to stay home as much as possible and accepted that challenge to slow the surge and save lives,” CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón, MD, said in the release. “Together, we changed our activities knowing our short-term sacrifices would lead to longer-term gains. COVID-19 is still here and still deadly, so our work is not over, but it’s important to recognize our collective actions saved lives and we are turning a critical corner.”
The CDPH cautions that the lifting of the order does not mean that the pandemic is over.
“While there are positive signs that the virus is spreading at a slower rate across the state, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over,” the release reads. “It is still critical that Californians continue to wear masks when they leave their homes, maintain physical distance of at least 6 feet, wash their hands frequently, avoid gatherings and mixing with other households, follow all state and local health department guidance and get the vaccine when it’s their turn.”
While much of the state is still in the widespread tier, the lifting of the order lifts restrictions on certain businesses and activities.
“Nearly all the counties exiting the regional stay-at-home order today are in the purple or widespread (most restrictive) tier,” the release reads. “Services and activities, such as outdoor dining and personal services, may resume immediately with required modifications, subject to any additional restrictions required by local jurisdictions.”
Numerous other restrictions have now been lifted in the regions that were under the stay-at-home order, which had ordered that, “All gatherings with members of other households are prohibited in the region except as expressly permitted herein,” and, “All individuals living in the region shall stay home or at their place of residence except as necessary to conduct activities associated with the operation, maintenance or usage of critical infrastructure, as required by law, or as specifically permitted in this order.”
The limited stay-at-home order, which limited non-essential activities between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m., has also been lifted along with the regional stay-at-home order.
“California is slowly starting to emerge from the most dangerous surge of this pandemic yet, which is the light at the end of the tunnel we’ve been hoping for,” California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, MD, said in the release. “Seven weeks ago, our hospitals and front-line medical workers were stretched to their limits, but Californians heard the urgent message to stay home when possible and our surge after the December holidays did not overwhelm the healthcare system to the degree we had feared.”
Last week, the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors and other local leaders sent a letter to the CDPH requesting that the county be transferred from the San Joaquin Valley Region to the Greater Sacramento Region for the purposes of the regional stay-at-home order, which would have lifted the stay-at-home order locally if approved.
The letter was spearheaded by District 3 Supervisor Merita Callaway, who was prompted by concerns from constituents and a desire to help local businesses hard hit by the pandemic.
Callaway said on Monday that she was pleased that the stay-at-home order was lifted for the region.
“I never thought I’d be so happy to see the purple tier return,” she said. “It gives our businesses some breathing room.”
But there are still challenges ahead, Callaway said.
“It now puts the responsibility on the county and our residents to see if we can go back down to the red or orange, or preferably, yellow tier,” she said. “The challenge is up to us to make that happen as a county.”
To view current COVID-19 restrictions in Calaveras County, visit covid19.ca.gov/safer-economy/#county-status.