California Moves to Open Barbershops and Hair Salons in Most of State

In this Friday, May 22, 2020, file photo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, Pool, File)

(CN) — California Governor Gavin Newsom deadpanned a joke Tuesday during his daily coronavirus press conference about his three children giving him a haircut after his wife complained he was looking a bit bedraggled. 

“They had at me,” Newsom said of children’s endeavor to cut his hair over the weekend. “It was a family effort to remove what was described by my wife as a mullet.”

He also said the children failed to practice the physical distancing and deep sanitation practices required by the state of California. 

Newsom’s personal travail in haircutting aside, the governor told the story because the state will allow hair salons and barbershops to open in most of its 58 counties effective immediately. 

The provision to allow hair stylists to bust out the shears comes as California has slowly peeled back several elements of its stay-at-home order. Over the weekend the state announced in-person religious services could resume as long as certain conditions were met. 

“We are moving into the unknown, into the untested,” Newsom said as he pleaded with Californians to continue to be vigilant as the disease continues to spread. 

“I see a lot of people talking about the second wave, but we are not even out of the first wave of this disease,” Newsom said. 

That said, Newsom said he recognized the imperative to get the economy going again as the toll of keeping the state closed could start to have devastating ramifications that are as bad if not worse than the disease itself. 

However, he has continued to assert that California would take a regional approach, and areas with ongoing or worsening outbreaks would not be permitted to open services as fast as other areas. 

For instance, 47 out of the 58 counties will be allowed to open barbershops on Monday. 

Los Angeles County, the state’s most populous county, accounts for half the state’s deaths and nearly half of the state’s confirmed cases. It must demonstrate that the disease’s spread is contained before reopening different business sectors. 

“We still have a long way to get to where we need to be,” Newsom said. 

Vernon, a city in Los Angeles County, suffered an outbreak at meatpacking plants, with nine such plants reporting cases, including 153 confirmed cases at the Farmer John plant run by Smithfield Foods. 

Meatpacking plants and other facilities where individuals are required to be in close proximity have fueled several outbreaks in California and around the country. 

In Kings County, officials there saw the confirmed case count jump over the weekend after an outbreak occurred at the Avenal State Prison in the western part of the county. So far, 115 prisoners at the facility have tested positive for the Covid-19 virus. 

In Santa Cruz County, where cases had been slowly accumulating since the outbreak began, residents witnessed a 20% increase in confirmed cases over the course of four days after four separate outbreaks, all tied to family gatherings, materialized. 

“We can’t let our guard down now, there are still more lives to save,” said Santa Cruz Public Health Officer Gail Newell. 

California is fast approaching 100,000 confirmed cases just as America appears poised to surpass 100,000 deaths nationwide. California added about 2,600 cases over the past 24 hours, a 2.3% jump from the previous period. 

In the Golden State, about 3,800 people have lost their lives in the pandemic thus far. 

It bears a stark reminder that while many were able to enjoy the nice weather over Memorial Day weekend, this disease presents an extremely dangerous foe, particularly for the elderly.

To that end, the LA County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to appoint an inspector general to oversee skilled nursing facilities, which have been ravaged by the virus across the county. 

The inspector general will evaluate facilities’ compliance with county health standards and report bimonthly on the county’s enforcement of its guidelines.

The facilities have become the epicenter of LA County’s coronavirus outbreak with more than 7,700 confirmed cases of Covid-19 among residents and staff, according to the county’s motion.

Over 1,000 residents of skilled nursing facilities in LA County have died from coronavirus, accounting for 47% of the county’s total deaths according the LA County Public Health Department. 

While individuals over 65 only account for 19.5% of the confirmed cases in California, they account for 79.1% of the total deaths in the state. 

“Let us not forget the most vulnerable among us,” Newsom said. 

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