10 California counties see restrictions eased, risks remain

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Ten California counties were cleared to ease coronavirus restrictions Tuesday, including some in the Central Valley that saw major case spikes over the summer, but the state’s top health official warned that upcoming Halloween celebrations pose a risk for renewed spread.

Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state health secretary, said no counties moved backwards in California’s color-coded, four-tiered system for reopening, but Riverside was on the verge of reverting to the most restrictive purple tier. The county of about 2.5 million residents has asked for a review of its data and will stay in the red tier until the state makes a decision on its status later this week.

“Moving back a tier is important,” Ghaly said. “We don’t want to do it without a significant degree of conversation and understanding.”

Riverside County Public Health Officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser said the county hopes to persuade the state that it can maintain its current status while still slowing the spread of the virus. A slip back to the purple tier would adversely affect small businesses like restaurants and gyms, which could be forced to shut down indoor operations again, the county said in a statement.

Two San Francisco Bay Area counties, Alameda and Santa Clara, will advance to the less-restrictive orange tier, which allows for increased capacity at restaurants, movie theaters and houses of worship — all with modifications to require face coverings.


The lifting of some restrictions in counties that have shown improvement comes as California sees a continued drop in COVID-19 cases. The seven-day positivity rate was down to 2.7%, Ghaly said. The number of hospitalizations is about 2,225 — a significant drop from a peak of around 7,000 over the summer, he said.

Ghaly said overall trends are moving in the right direction, thanks in part to Californians’ increased willingness to wear masks and avoid large gatherings.

“The more that that becomes widespread around the community, we’re going to see these numbers stabilize and come down,” Ghaly said.

But he added “we’re not out of the woods, and we’re seeing a number of increases across the country, and across the world in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

Officials are urging families to skip trick-or-treating this Halloween and instead have costume contests and pumpkin carvings online.

“The whole act of going door-to-door in groups ringing doorbells, digging into buckets of delicious candy, create a risk of spreading spreading COVID-19,” Ghaly said. But he stressed that it was a recommendation, not a rule, and trick-or-treaters will not see any enforcement.

California on Friday night also eased restrictions to allow up to three households to socialize outdoors, an expansion of rules aimed at people tempted to have even larger gatherings around Halloween, Thanksgiving and end-of-year holidays.

Meanwhile Tuesday, Fresno County stayed in the red tier and four other counties in the central part of the state — Kern, Colusa, Sutter and Stanislaus — advanced from purple to red. Those improvements were particularly gratifying after those counties experienced

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Some local dentist offices remain open, hoping to avoid strain on hospitals | FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The American Dental Association has instructed dentist’s offices to remain closed through the end of April in most cases as part of the effort to slow the transmission of COVID-19.

But some dentist’s offices are opening their doors under certain circumstances for the very same reason.

Statistics show Americans go to hospitals once every 14 seconds for dental problems, or more than 2 million times annually.

“My main goal in being open at this time is to make sure we play a role in the health industry and kind of help prevent the clogging up of our emergency rooms,” Parkville Modern Dentistry’s Dr. Matthew Yip said.

Parkville Modern Dentistry looks a little different than it did a month ago. You won’t find people in for routine cleanings and regular checkups right now.

But that doesn’t mean Yip isn’t staying busy.

“We actually have been getting a few more calls lately because there have been people that have emergencies, and they are having a little harder time finding someone that is open and available to them,” Yip said.

Yip is still extracting teeth and responding to true dental emergencies. First he’s using video conferencing, or tele-dentistry, to see if the patient really needs urgent care.

“Sometimes a patient may have a seasonal allergy that might cause their teeth to ache because of the sinuses located above their teeth. Sometimes we are able to recognize that just from talking to them when they are experiencing this symptoms,” Yip said.

His office is taking every precaution it can, including wearing N95 masks, face shields, disposable gowns and sterilizing everywhere.

But he said he has a responsibility to stay open for these procedures because if he and at least some others don’t, he knows where the patients will end up.

Parkville Modern Dentistry is one of 800 Pacific Dental Services offices nationwide remaining open during the coronavirus pandemic for certain procedures. The offices have helped launch #DentalER, urging patients to stay out of hospital ERs and go to their dentists for dental emergencies.

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