Calaveras County’s health officer has announced that his previous orders clarifying and enforcing Gov. Gavin Newsom’s March 19 stay-at-home order have been lifted. However, the statewide directive remains in effect.
Though Dr. Dean Kelaita, MD, has rescinded the majority of his COVID-19 public health orders and emergency regulations, his restrictions against lodging facilities serving the general public remain in-place. Additionally, local residents and businesses are still required to adhere to state-mandated rules under Kelaita’s latest order.
“The people of Calaveras County have been doing their part which has slowed the spread of COVID-19,” the health officer said in Friday’s press release. “We are taking the first steps towards reopening Calaveras County.”
A major step both locally and statewide has been Friday’s reopening of “low-risk” retail stores and supporting services for curbside and delivery shopping only—part two of Newsom’s four-part roadmap to reopening the state.
Newsom announced on Monday that some California counties may move through the reopening phases more quickly than others based on the state’s readiness criteria. Some counties may also choose to remain more restrictive than others.
In Calaveras County, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has remained at 13 since April 23.
Kelaita says that the state’s readiness criteria may allow Calaveras County to move relatively quickly into later Stage 2, which permits the reopening of offices and dine-in restaurants.
According to Kelaita, readiness parameters include low prevalence of COVID-19 cases within the county and adequate testing, tracing and protective equipment availability.
As of April 29, Calaveras County Public Health reports less than 1% of the countywide population has been tested. However, a new state-commissioned testing site in Lodi has increased testing availability for Calaveras County residents.
Kelaita warned that additional COVID-19 cases within the county may warrant a tightening of restrictions from the local health department.
“If we see COVID- 19 cases start to spread through our community this means that strict efforts will be needed again to contain the virus. A resurgence of disease activity in the county will undo everything we have built to protect the health of our community,” Kelaita said.
On Friday, Kelaita, county supervisors and other county personnel were named as possible defendants in a letter threatening a lawsuit against Calaveras County for upholding the governor’s stay-at-home order.
In the letter, Valley Springs attorney Brian Chavez-Ochoa, claiming to represent roughly 30 local businesses, reiterated his intention to file the lawsuit next week, seeking damages and injunctive relief for the “shutdown of the county.” In an earlier letter, he alleged that the health department has threatened non-compliant businesses with the revocation of their business licenses as a means to enforce statewide restrictions.
Yet the health department remains the only county entity actively enforcing those restrictions, according to the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office.
“The Calaveras Sheriff’s Office has taken an educational approach for those observed not following the personal distancing guidelines,” Sgt. Greg Stark, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office, told the Enterprise on Friday. “We have not issued any citations or made any arrests due to the stay-at-home order.”