How Californians Are Reacting to Reopening During the Coronavirus Pandemic
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Earlier this week, when counties around the state were just beginning to get the green light from the state to reopen businesses like dine-in restaurants (with modifications) and stores that had previously been deemed nonessential, we asked readers living in those counties how they felt about it all.
Now, as more and more counties — including populous ones like San Diego and Sacramento — are added to the list, their emails felt to me as if they were coming from a less and less distant future.
So what can those of us living in counties that are still largely sheltered in place have to look forward to?
Dana Kennedy, 49, wrote in an email that she visited a restaurant in Nevada City.
She said that there were plexiglass dividers between booths and that tables in an open area were spaced far apart.
The servers wore masks and, she said, everything was disinfected.
Ms. Kennedy said she felt safe, given that there hadn’t been many coronavirus cases in her town, but she still washed her hands before leaving the restaurant and used hand sanitizer again when she got in the car, and once more when she got home.
As for how it felt to be out, she wrote:
“I could equate it to the feeling of learning to swim; you so desperately want to learn. There is elation mixed with the fear of drowning. Then your feet and hands start to work their magic to keep you afloat, but you still want the safety of the edge of the pool. I think it’s important to test the waters so we can start swimming again, but do so with caution and common sense.”
The biggest change that Dr. Carlos Alvarez, a 58-year-old in Tuolumne County, noticed was that people seemed to have eased up on precautions.
Dr. Alvarez wrote that although the Walmart in Sonora has been open throughout the state’s lockdown — “bless their supply chain,” he said — it was much more crowded this week than previously.
“This is our version of any other place’s megachurch,” he said. “Folks come from miles to shop here.”
Most other shoppers, he said, weren’t wearing masks or following floor markings guiding traffic through the store, though he said most did make efforts to keep their distance.
Terry Schneider, a 74-year-old in northern Humboldt County, wrote that she planned to “stay hunkered down until I feel things are more stable.”
Even though Humboldt is among those that have been allowed to reopen, and has relatively few cases, Ms. Schneider said that she had been at home on her own since the beginning of March, and that she hoped to see how case rates change after wider testing has been available for a couple more weeks.
“Do I really need new clothes, knickknacks, or household goods at this time? Nope! Anything I might want I can order online, although I have tried to be mindful of the environmental costs of shipping (and the health effects upon people who work in the warehouses and deliver the packages), so I haven’t done much of that either.”
Ms. Schneider added that she’s fortunate to live in a beautiful place, “so I have nature to keep me company.”
Mary Lou Giles, a 73-year-old in El Dorado County, wrote that she and her husband planned to shelter in place for at least another month.
She said she worried that county officials moved under pressure from people who oppose the stay-at-home orders for political reasons, although the county has seen no deaths from the virus yet.
Ms. Giles wrote:
“Would I like to patronize one of my favorite local restaurants or coffee shops? Would I like to browse through the fabrics at the quilt shop or the yarns at the yarn shop? Would I like to get back to my chiropractor and acupuncturist? Would I love to go wine tasting? Absolutely. Am I willing to be a guinea pig, testing just how much social distancing and sanitizing will keep the virus at bay? No.”
Here’s what else to know today
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If you missed it, read more about why Covid-19 is deadlier for black and Latino Californians. [The New York Times]
And the governor’s proposed budget cuts two day programs aimed at keeping poor and medically fragile seniors out of nursing homes. [CalMatters]
The University of California voted to phase out the SAT and ACT as requirements to apply. The decision is likely to accelerate momentum of American colleges away from using the standardized tests. [The New York Times]
Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook would allow many employees to work from home permanently. The company is the first among tech’s giants to make such a decision, and it could profoundly reshape Silicon Valley as workers move to less expensive places. [The New York Times]
After she maintained her innocence for months, Lori Loughlin, along with her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to plead guilty to conspiring to get their daughters into the University of Southern California. She agreed to serve two months in prison. [The New York Times]
Take a look back at her first appearance in court in Los Angeles. [The New York Times]
Darrell Issa, the former Republican congressman who’s running for Congress again, is suing to block California’s move to mail every voter a ballot in November. [Politico]
Oakland Unified School District students could vote in school board elections if a measure on the city’s fall ballot is approved. [Berkeleyside]
Read more about past efforts to let 17-year-olds vote in California. [The New York Times]
Almost a century before President Trump referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” a Methodist radio preacher called the plague sweeping through Los Angeles a “Mexican Disease.” [L.A. Taco]
Celebrities are (almost) just like us: Stuck at home. Which makes things difficult for the paparazzi. [The New York Times]
San Luis Obispo’s “Bubble Gum Alley” is open, for now — if checking out walls covered in chewed gum sounds good to you. [The San Luis Obispo Tribune]
And Finally …
We’ll be back on Tuesday. We wish you and your loved ones peace and health.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at U.C. Berkeley and has reported all over the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles — but she always wants to see more. Follow along here or on Twitter.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.