San Luis Obispo County announced the framework for a phased reopening of the city will be made public on May 1. 

In the week leading up to its release, speakers will discuss different factors of the framework, the criteria to begin each phase and the stakeholder process involved in the framework’s creation. 

Throughout the last two weeks, a panel of public health, laboratory testing, epidemiology, law, infectious disease and medical research professionals met to determine what it will look like to reopen the economy and the greater SLO community, District 4 County Board of Supervisors representative Lynn Compton said at a April 27 press briefing.

Before entering phase one, two things are required. First, Gov. Gavin Newsom must lift the stay-at-home order on California, or modify it in a way that gives the county control over the situation. Second, public health guidelines defined in the framework have to be met in order to loosen current restrictions. These same guidelines must be maintained for defined periods of time in order to move on to phases two and three. 

If these guidelines are not met or local data shows a significant uptick in cases, at any point in the process, the county would have to go back to the previous phase and “retighten” restrictions as necessary to decrease health risks. 

“In other words, we may have to take two steps forward, and one step back,” epidemiologist and Cal Poly nutrition professor Aydin Nazmi said.. 

The stakeholder engagement process regarding the framework included around 20 chairs from specific communities and sectors. These chairs discussed the guidelines proposed and how each area of the economy would meet and apply them. There were more than 500 comments in the stakeholder review process, according to Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jim Dantona.

“What has become clear to me through this process, having worked in local government before, is the county and our cities should be giving a lot of credit for working proactively to think about this, and not like most government agencies waiting to react,” Dantona said. 

On Friday, April 24, the county saw its largest spike in confirmed cases in on day with 14. Despite this, the case increases have since returned to normal, with less than five a day, according to SLO Public Health. 

Aspects that could slow the phasing process include at least a 10 percent increase over the baseline number of cases over a three-day span and any more than three new sources of transmission discovered, SLO Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein said. Borenstein also noted that the county is not requiring any individuals to wear masks when they go outside. Those exercising outdoors particularly should not wear masks, as they could weaken their breathing. If social distancing cannot be maintained, a mask is recommended, Borenstein said. The county is encouraging that those who can make masks donate them to those in need.

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