Jessica Cejnar / Wednesday, May 27 @ 6:21 p.m. / Emergencies, Health

Health Officer Discusses Church Gatherings as Del Norte Sees 43 Positive COVID-19 Cases

Del Norte’s positive COVID-19 count increased from 40 to 43 Wednesday, the Public Health Branch reported.

This increase comes as Public Health Officer Dr. Warren Rehwaldt issued a statement regarding California Governor Gavin Newsom’s decision to relax safety measures governing places of worship, religious services and cultural ceremonies.

People can resume participating in those activities as long as they observe social distancing guidelines, wear a face mask and the religious or cultural organization is diligent about hygiene, according to Rehwaldt’s statement. Those services can continue with up to 25 percent a building’s capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is lower, according to Rehwaldt’s statement.

Though he called this good news, Rehwaldt said worship services are still high risk environments since many in their congregation is elderly.

“For those who will be planning the design of a reopened worship service, please pay attention to the guidance document from the State Health Department (CDPH) as it lays out the basics of what should happen,” Rehwaldt wrote. “And, to all of those that are at highest risk, you may want to continue joining services by video if that is available. There just is nofe zone out there with virus activity at its current level.”

Roughly half of Del Norte County’s new cases — which numbered 40 when Rehwaldt released his statement — were identified through aggressive contact tracing, he said. About half of those who were told to get tested did not have symptoms, he said.

Rehwaldt urged those who are high risk to continue to shelter in place. These folks include anyone older than 65 as well as those in their 40s or 50s with chronic health conditions.

“Even younger persons, especially diabetics and people who struggle with obesity can have significantly higher risk,” he said.

“Many young people are healthy enough to shrug this off, but young persons (20-40 age group) make up about 20 percent of hospital admissions nationwide. If you aren’t sure, ask your health care provider. If that is not an option there is a FAQ section of the main page at the CDC website that covers those at higher risk.”

In counties that received a variance from the California Department of Public health to move through the state’s four-stage reopening plan at a faster pace, barbershops and hair salons can reopen, Rehwaldt said. He urged business owners to visit a guidance document on the CDPH website that outlines the criteria they need to meet to reopen.

Most services will be available, though any service requiring a customer to remove a face mask would not be allowed, Rehwaldt said.

Other businesses that have allowed to resume operation while taking COVID-19 safety measures into account include clothing and furniture stores, auto dealers, landscapers, pet groomers and tanning facilities.

Daycares can open for youngsters and elective surgeries can resume services, according to Rehwaldt’s statement. Golf courses and non-congregate portions of public parks and trails can also reopen.

Rehwaldt urged people to visit the Del Norte Office of Emergency Services economic resiliency web page to submit a COVID-19 safety plan.

In Del Norte County, 14 people have recovered from the novel coronavirus. A total of 1,144 tests have been administered with the results for 179 pending and 922 coming back negative, according to the Public Health Branch.


Health Officer Letter to Residents


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