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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on Covid-19 testing that have puzzled health officials across the nation and in the Bay Area. 

Some Bay Area counties this week will allow business sectors such as hair and nail salons to resume operations outdoors as long as state health guidelines are being followed. No new Bay Area counties have got off the state’s County Monitoring List. 

Napa County remains to be the only county in the Bay area to have made it off the list, but the state has yet to make guideline revisions for counties who do get off the list. 

Here’s what’s going on in the rest of the Bay Area and across the state.

U.S.

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,821,195
  • Deaths: 179,695

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Wednesday at 6:28 p.m.

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New guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headlines Wednesday as the CDC changed its guidance on who should get tested.

The CDC had recommended that close contacts to a person infected with Covid-19 get tested, but has now changed its guidance by saying that a person only needs to get tested if they were within six feet of the infected person for more than 15 minutes:

“You do not necessarily need a test unless you are a vulnerable individual or your health care provider or State or local public health officials recommend you take one.”

Additionally, the guidance says that a person presenting with mild symptoms should seek a health care provider’s advice on whether to get tested. Whether a person tests positive or does not get a test, the CDC recommends the person to self-isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms and until a fever has subsided.

California

  • Confirmed Cases: 687,004
  • Deaths: 12,532

Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday announced an agreement with diagnostics company Perkin Elmer, which allows the state to eventually process up to an additional 150,000 Covid-19 tests per day with a turnaround time of 24 to 48 hours.

The goal is for the facility to begin processing tens and thousands of tests by November and run at full capacity by next March.

Newsom said in a statement:

“California is using its market power to combat global supply chain challenges and protect Californians in the fight against Covid-19. Supply chains across the country have slowed as demand for Covid-19 tests has increased, and flu season will only exacerbate the problem.”

The contract with the company calls for polymerase chain reaction testing, known as PCR testing, which officials say is the gold standard diagnostic testing.

Additionally, the per test per cost is $30.78 at 150,000 tests per day. For context, the average cost of a Covid-19 test ranges $150 to $200 with reimbursement of approximately $100 from Medicare or Medicaid.

Newsom said:

“So we are building our own laboratory capabilities right here on California soil with a stable supply chain to fight the disease, lower the prices of testing for everyone and protect Californians most at risk from Covid-19.” 

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Wednesday at 6:28 p.m.

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Alameda County

  • Confirmed Cases: 17,385
  • Deaths: 243

Source: Alameda County Public Health Department as of Wednesday.

Alameda County health officials released new public health orders last week that will allow for outdoor swimming pools to open as well as allowing hair salons, barbershops, nail salons, waxing services and massages to open outdoors starting on Friday.

The businesses can offer these services outdoors as long as customers do not need to take off their face coverings while receiving services.

Additionally, the amended health orders will allow for wineries in Alameda County to offer outdoor wine tasting by appointment only. Wineries will not need to provide food. Bars, pubs and breweries are still now allowed to open in the county under the state health orders. 

Dr. Nicholas Moss, the county’s interim public health officer said in a statement that while these activities are considered low risk, Moss said any opportunity of the public to gather can lead to an increase in cases:

“Simple actions — wearing a face covering, washing your hands often, and staying six feet away from people outside your home—protect everyone. As we continue to experience poor air quality, there is no better time to stay home as much as possible.”

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Contra Costa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 13,259
  • Deaths: 172

Source: Contra Costa Health Services as of Wednesday at 11:30 a.m.

Contra Costa health officials are making changes to its public health orders that will allow businesses to operate outdoors.

Officials said the daily number of hospitalizations and the number of daily tests coming back have either remained steady or decreased. 

Starting Friday, the county will allow for personal care services that do not involve close contact with a person’s face to open outdoors. Those businesses include nail salons and massage services. Gyms and fitness can operate outdoors.

Additionally hotels and short-term rentals can reopen for personal or recreational travel, the county said.

Contra Costa County Health Officer Chris Farnitano said in statement Wednesday:

“Based on what we are able to see, we can be cautiously optimistic that there is a gradual downward trend in county cases, testing positivity rates and hospitalizations. We need everyone to understand this is a reason to keep up what we are doing and not let down our guards.”

The county said its rolling seven-day average on the number of patients hospitalized with the virus slightly dropped from 103 on Aug. 6 to 96 on Monday. 

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Marin County 

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,965
  • Deaths: 95

Source: Marin Health and Human Services and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation as of Wednesday.

*Marin County began reporting San Quentin State Prison cases separately, but for the purposes of tracking actual infections and potential impact on hospitalization rates, we’ve included inmate cases with the county’s cumulative total. However, staff member infections are being included in the individual’s county of residence reporting.

Marin County added 23 new Covid-19 cases since Tuesday bringing its total confirmed cases to 3,729. The county added one new death bringing the death total now to 69.

The Marin County Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved renewing the state’s Great Plates Delivered Program, that provides meals for older adults who are sheltering in place due to the pandemic and unable and unable to qualify for other nutrition programs.

From May 18 to June 10, the county conducted a pilot program with 28 local restaurants and catering companies in providing three meals per day to 717 older adults who are at high-risk and met the program’s eligibility. 

The board approved a request from the county’s Department of Health and Human Services of $976,016 to provide meals for the same individuals between Sept. 10 and Oct. 9.

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Napa County

  • Confirmed Cases: 1,337
  • Deaths: 13

Source: Department of Health and Human Services as of Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.

The county reported 12 new Covid-19 cases over the last 24-hour period and has a total of 677 active cases of the virus. A total of 677 persons have recovered. The county’s average positivity rate between Aug. 16 and Aug. 22 is at 3.6 percent. The previous week the average positivity rate was at 2.5 percent.

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San Francisco

  • Confirmed Cases: 9,060
  • Deaths: 80

Source: Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health with data reported through Wednesday – information is updated daily but lags by three days. 

The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department last week said they are looking into a pilot program that would allow fitness providers to hold inexpensive outdoor classes in city parks.

Department officials said the program is inspired by The City’s already existing Shared Spaces program, which allows businesses to apply for permits to use available street space or parking space to sell goods or provide outdoor seating for dining. 

General Manager of Rec and Park Phil Ginsgburg said in statement:

“Like parks themselves, fitness classes promote physical health and mental wellbeing — something we could all use right now. This program would allow fitness providers with closed storefronts an inexpensive way to hold classes again while allocating space in a fair and transparent way”

The pilot would offer two options depending on class sizes. Small fitness operations, such as personal trainers who only require the use of a small space and train up to three persons at a time would pay an annual permit fee of $25 — a $225 reduction of the normal permit fee cost.

For fitness instructors leading a group of four to 11 people or for instructors needing to designate a park space, the fee will drop from $15 an hour to $1.25 an hour. Under the proposal, it would guarantee a spot to hold classes for 10 weeks at the same day and time.

The reduced fees will remain in place as long as gyms are not allowed to open.

If the program gets approved, the pilot program would launch on Sept. 13, officials said.

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San Mateo County

  • Confirmed Cases: 7,849
  • Deaths: 130

Source: San Mateo County Health with data reported through Tuesday.

Residents are being reminded to wear masks and face coverings not just to protect themselves from Covid-19, but also from the unhealthy air caused by the CZU Complez lightning fires. The county wrote on its website:

“The smoke and particles in the air from the wildfires can irritate your lungs and cause inflammation which impacts your immune system and makes you more prone to lung infections including SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.”

Officials said residents should limit their outdoor activities. 

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Santa Clara County

  • Confirmed Cases: 16,393
  • Deaths: 237

Source: Santa Clara County Public Health as of Wednesday.

Santa Clara County’s Health Officer Dr. Sara Cody held a press conference Wednesday to discuss the recent changes by the CDC on Covid-19 testing guidelines.

When she had first learned about the changes in the guidelines, Cody said she found the news to be bizarre and at first did not believe it:

“Testing and having individuals know their status is foundational to our ability to control an infectious disease and certainly our ability to control Covid.”

Cody reviewed the county’s local guidance that says anyone with any symptoms should be tested right away. As the flu season approaches, Cody said it was important for individuals to get tested to know if they have Covid-19 or something else.

The new CDC guidelines say that anyone with mild symptoms of the virus may wish to get a test and test maybe offered.

Cody said out of all the changes in the guidance by CDC she found most bizzare, was the change that says that if a person comes into contact with infected person, they do not necessarily have to get tested:

“The truth is that if you have been in contact with someone who is infectious with Covid, you absolutely need to get a test.”

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Solano County

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,280
  • Deaths: 46

Source: Solano Public Health as of Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

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Sonoma County

  • Confirmed Cases: 5,351 
  • Deaths: 75

Source: County of Sonoma with data as of Tuesday.

The county reported two new deaths from Tuesday’s Covid-19 update bringing the total number deaths to 75. Additionally, the county added 139 new cases Tuesday bring the total of confirmed cases to 5,351.

Global

  • Confirmed Cases: 24,085,646
  • Deaths: 824,230

Source: John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center Covid-19 global tracking tool as of Wednesday at 6:28 p.m.

Open SFBay Worldwide coronavirus tracker.

Jerold Chinn
Jerold Chinn covers transportation and City Hall in San Francisco for SF Bay. Email: jerold@sfbay.ca. Twitter: @Jerold_Chinn. Instagram: jeroldwashere.

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