CA Health and Human Services sec’y says counties should issue Labor Day COVID-19 guidance ASAP

Venice Beach in pre-covid times

California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said Tuesday that counties should begin issuing guidance for Labor Day weekend as soon as possible to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Ghaly warned that large family and social gatherings during the holiday weekend could dismantle the progress the state has made in recent weeks in curbing the spread of the coronavirus. As the state has vacillated between reopening and closing certain medium- and high-risk industries, Ghaly said the most pertinent thing public health officials have learned since the pandemic began is the role individual people play in following health and safety protocol.

“This sneaky virus that we call COVID-19 doesn’t take a rest,” he said. “It will find every opportunity to transit from person to person because that’s what germs do.”

Ghaly called the upcoming holiday weekend an “incredible moment” for the state and the country at large to prevent further spread of the virus and likened it to guidance the state issued regarding large gatherings for Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. Thousands gathered on beaches throughout the state on Memorial Day weekend and flouted public health guidelines by not wearing masks or maintaining their distance. As a result, the state partnered with local law enforcement agencies for the Fourth of July weekend to enforce public health guidance while local governments restricted public beach access.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has not yet indicated whether he will take similar measures for Labor Day weekend. City managers in Monterey, Pacific Grove, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Sand City, Capitola and Santa Cruz have already indicated they will close local beaches during the holiday weekend from Sept. 5-7 to prevent the virus’ spread.

“We’ve learned and continue to learn that any activities or actions that increase mixing among people who haven’t been together in quite some time creates a transmission risk,” Ghaly said.

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