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Strict Northern California county to allow retail sales

May 18, 2020 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area county that reported the first known death from coronavirus in the U.S. will allow some retail businesses to re-open Friday, even as the region’s 7 million residents remain under orders to stay at home as much as possible and wear a face covering when going out.

Santa Clara County’s public health officer, Dr. Sara Cody, said Monday that trends were looking good, with new cases of COVID-19 stable or decreasing and hospitals have enough room to take care of all patients. And while there is no vaccine available, she said she felt it safe to proceed slowly with curbside pickup and storefront sales.

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“We now have a little bit of head room to cautiously take another step forward,” she said.

The announcement comes as Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed reopening criteria for counties, which he said will allow most of the state’s 58 counties to begin allowing dining in restaurants and other services.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

Santa Clara County was the lone regional holdout last week as neighboring counties announced plans to allow small retail stores — including art supply, book, game and cosmetics shops — to re-open with curbside pickup and sales.

San Francisco, Alameda and Marin counties started allowing sales Monday, with a new joint public order and statement Monday. A spokesperson for Contra Costa County said sales can start Tuesday.

The order Monday by public health officers allows retail establishments to offer storefront pick-up, and manufacturing, warehousing, and logistical operations that support retail to resume. Dine-in restaurants and indoor malls will not be allowed.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sued Alameda County, where a plant is located, last week because it would not allow him to re-open. The plant is now allowed to operate under the new order.

People should still stay home as much as possible and wear face coverings when near others or inside essential businesses, such as at supermarkets, the officers said.

Santa Clara Supervisor Dave Cortese said the order will provide businesses with the clarity they need to rebuild businesses ravaged by the pandemic.

“I think it’s a huge psychological relief for business people,” he said.