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County begins reopening discussions
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County begins reopening discussions

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HANFORD — Kings County has begun preparing for the eventual reopening of some businesses in the county.

At its meeting Tuesday morning, the Kings County Board of Supervisors received a presentation from Ed Hill, director of the Kings County Department of Public Health, on the county’s path towards reopening.

Hill reiterated Gov. Gavin Newsom’s six indicators for modifying California’s stay-at-home orders, which are:

  • The ability to monitor and protect communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
  • The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
  • The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

Hill said Kings County currently meets the first indicator. He said along with all health care providers providing testing, the county will get a new community testing site soon testing. The department has also been conducting contact tracing with help from the Sheriff’s Office.

Hill said the second indicator is mostly met. He said his department is working with skilled nursing facilities and long-term care facilities to make sure they have mitigating factors in place. He said Project Roomkey, which is to help homeless who are at risk, is also moving forward

An identified gap in this indicator is identifying those who are unknown at risk, like the elderly, Hill said. He said a team is now working on a plan for this factor.

As for the ability of health systems to handle surges, Hill said there is currently no medical strain on these facilities and the department is working with hospitals locally and regionally to make sure they have surge capabilities.

He said KCDPH also has external surge capabilities and enough personal protective equipment and ventilators.

Another identified gap concerns child care services, which Hill said will struggle to implement physical distancing.

Moving forward, Hill said the county wants to make sure workplaces remain as safe as possible by continuing to implement mitigating measures like social distancing and wearing masks, as well as switching to alternative methods of conducting business, like extending business hours and performing temperature checks.

Newsom is expected to hold a press conference on Thursday regarding expanded business openings to occur over the weekend— these include curbside pickup for clothing stores, sporting goods stores and florists, among others.

There will be a special Kings County Board of Supervisors meeting at 2 p.m. on Friday to follow up on the information that comes out of the press conference.

Hill reminded the board and the community that Kings County is 30-45 days behind the rest of the state — the county didn’t have its first confirmed case until late March — so he expects cases numbers to continue to increase.

“Even though the county is opening and some of these businesses will be able to expand, you really need to take care of protecting yourself,” he said.

The reporter can be reached at julissazavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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