Are you ready for some baseball? How about a hair cut?

A grounds crew worker pushes equipment at Oracle Park, the San Francisco Giants' baseball ballpark, in San Francisco on March 26, 2020. The opening of baseball season was delayed due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Photo by Jeff Chiu, AP Photo

It’s (almost) time to play ball.

Pro sporting events could resume in California as early as the first week of June, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday in a surprising announcement that likely marked the first ray of light at the end of the tunnel for many Californians, even if fans won’t be allowed back in the stands for a while.

And that wasn’t the only piece of positive news: Hair salons will likely be eligible to reopen statewide in a few weeks, the governor said.

Suddenly, California’s future looks very different from the way it did just last week, when Newsom expressed hesitation about Major League Baseball restarting in July. What’s changed?

Newsom said Monday the state is comfortable moving forward because hospitalizations have declined by 7.5% and ICU patients by 8.7% over the past 14 days, millions of protective masks have been distributed, and the state’s testing and tracing capacity has ramped up (though not enough to pinpoint the virus’s true scope, experts say).

The state is comfortable enough, in fact, that it’s significantly loosening county reopening requirements. Newsom said that under the new criteria, 53 of 58 counties are eligible to reopen dine-in restaurants and shopping centers (24 qualified under previous requirements).

To reopen faster than the state, counties originally had to prove that they had no more than one COVID-19 case and no COVID-19 death in the past 14 days, something many large counties labeled as unrealistic.

The new requirements don’t mention deaths at all. Counties now need to prove they have fewer than 25 new cases per 100,000 residents in the past 14 days, or less than 8% testing positive in the past seven days.

  • Newsom: “The bottom line is people can go at their own pace, and we are empowering our local health directors and county officials who understand their local communities and conditions better than anyone.”

The Bottom Line: As of 9 p.m. Monday night, California had 81,661 confirmed coronavirus cases and 3,285 deaths from the virus, according to a Los Angeles Times tracker. (These numbers are different from those of the state Department of Public Health, which are updated less often.)

Also: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. And we’re tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county.

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