California coronavirus surge tied to more testing, official says


California continues to see sharp increases in coronavirus cases as its death toll approaches 5,000, prompting some to raise the alarm that the state continues to reopen its economy.But is the number of cases the best measure of how California controls COVID-19?

Not necessarily, one of California’s top health officials said Friday as he announced a new set of businesses that are eligible for reopening, including nail salons.

The decision came as the state reported two consecutive record one-day increases in coronavirus cases, recording 3,620 new cases on Thursday and 3,644 on Friday. Los Angeles County, which remains the main hot spot for the virus in California, recorded 1,848 new cases Thursday, a one-day record, and 1,575 cases Friday.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of state Health and Human Services, said Friday that the overall number of cases are not necessarily a measure of how the state is getting trashed in its fight against the novel coronavirus. Increased testing may increase the number of cases as more infections are identified in those who are not seriously ill.

“We have stepped up testing in an extraordinary way, almost meeting our target of August — not June, not July, but August — to reach 60,000 to 80,000 tests per day,” Ghaly said. “we are already knocking on this door, on average in the middle to high 50s over the last few days across the state.”

Instead, officials closely monitor two measures: the positivity rate, which is the proportion of people who tested positive for all those tested, and the daily number of hospitalizations. An increase in the first could indicate an increase in community transmission that takes place separately from the increase in testing. An increase in the latter could mean that more people become seriously ill, which could compromise the health system’s ability to cope with the influx of patients.

So far, California’s positivity rate has continued to trend downward, and hospitalizations have remained within the stability range, Ghaly said Friday.

Los Angeles County has experienced similar trends, with slight declines in both positivity and hospitalization rates, Barbara Ferrer, the county’s health director, said Friday.

The rise came as California has allowed many businesses to reopen with preventive measures in place. This has raised concerns that California is reopening too quickly and could face new outbreaks. But Ghaly believes the increases are mainly due to testing.

“I think it’s natural that it’s easy to focus only on the number of new cases. But I think it’s really anchored – if you don’t see a huge increase in the number of hospitalizations in the right schedule or … Intensive care cases are really related at least in the case of California to an increase in testing. So I think it’s always important to have that in context.

He said the intensified testing, combined with increased contact search efforts, allows the state and counties to “contain and suppress disease transmission as we could not before order to stay home and even during home order.”

California has experienced far fewer deaths than hot spots such as New York and New Jersey, and many attribute this to the order to stay at The House of Governor Gavin Newsom, the first in the nation. Officials said the weeks of restrictions now allow for a gradual reopening.

“We have closed our doors to prepare, we have raised awareness among those in our communities, and we are starting to start reopening — bringing back the economy, bringing back this vital social and economic presence to our communities — while remaining vigilant and vigilant about the VOCIDE-19 movement so that we can stay ahead of it as much as we can,” Ghaly said.

State officials continued to allow more businesses, including movie theaters and gymnasiums, to reopen this week with restrictions and county approval pending.

On Friday, authorities announced nail salons, tattoo shops and massage therapists in California will be allowed to reopen in a week as the state continues to relax home stay restrictions.

Each county will have to give the go-ahead for businesses to open within its jurisdiction, and institutions will be required to follow detailed state guidelines. The guidelines, released Friday, dictate details, including the flow of people outside and outside facilities and how pedicure bowls are disinfected.

The one-week delay between the publication of the guidelines and the date when trade shows and shows can begin to reopen is intended to give businesses time to prepare and local officials the opportunity to “review their data and determine whether, as part of the global re-opening move, whether this is the right time for an additional sector to return to their communities.” Ghaly said.

Although many nail salon employees say they will be delighted to return to work, a huge obstacle remains for many of them: masks. In some California counties, officials do not require people to cover their faces when they are in public.

“Owners of nail salons in a county that does not need face coverings for customers are now put in a difficult situation to ask customers to wear these coatings when they come for services. It is a way of protecting both the customer and the worker. This is one of the security measures we need when we reopen,” said Tam Nguyen, president of Advance Beauty College, which has locations in Laguna Hills and Garden Grove. “We are not in a position to enforce the laws. It’s unfair to small business owners.

“The million-dollar question is: Do you lose your business when you walk out of a competitor’s door on the street — or do you welcome the customer and risk your health with your staff?”

Nguyen and his supporters launched Nailing It for America, a fully voluntary initiative that in recent months has delivered more than 1.2 million pieces of personal protective equipment and 52,000 meals at the restaurant to health care workers and others battling COVIDE-19. He said that safety remains the top priority, “no matter where you operate. For counties with mask regulations, more power for them. Their salons should be able to reopen with less burden.

But in Orange County, where its network is based, officials announced Thursday a sudden change in health prescriptions after weeks of arguments about the use of face coverings. Masks, previously required, are now highly recommended in public settings, said Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the County Health Care Agency.

“It doesn’t diminish the importance of face coverings,” Chau said. “I stand with public health experts and believe that wearing fabric face coverings helps slow the spread of VOCIDE-19 in our community and save lives.

“By being consistent with the state, it will give our business community and individuals the ability to make the most appropriate decision for them and their situation.”


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