California Gov. Gavin Newsom scolded two rural counties Tuesday for allowing some businesses to reopen in defiance of his statewide coronavirus restrictions, calling it a “big mistake” and saying they are “putting their public at risk.”
Restaurants, hair salons and many other businesses opened Monday in Yuba and Sutter counties, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) north of Sacramento. A revised public health order in the counties allows businesses to reopen but requires them to enforce physical distancing and other restrictions. The Yuba Sutter Mall plans to reopen Wednesday.
The two counties together have had 44 confirmed coronavirus cases out of a combined population of just over 175,000 people, and no one is now hospitalized there with the virus, according to state data.
“They are putting our progress at risk,” Newsom said. “We believe in ‘ready, aim fire,’ not ‘ready, fire, aim.’”
Sutter County Supervisor Mike Ziegenmeyer said he was “irritated” by Newsom’s comments, saying the two counties were following the directives of their shared public health officer. He said he will urge county officials to keep allowing businesses to open in defiance of Newsom’s order.
“I took my family out to dinner last night and couldn’t have felt safer,” he said.
Newsom plans to modify his statewide stay-at-home order this week, with plans to let some retail stores offer curbside pickup. But the plan does not allow for in-person dining and hair salons to reopen.
The statewide restrictions have been in place since March 19, forcing schools and nonessential businesses to close. Since then, millions of people have filed for unemployment benefits — so many that California has had to borrow money from the federal government to keep making payments.
California has more than 56,700 confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 2,300 deaths. However, the number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested. Studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness and death.