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Conflicting messages & actions mar reopening amid COVID-19 pandemic
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Events such as the Black Lives Matter rally and march last week in Manteca that attracted more than 400 people with a number of participants not wearing face masks as well as a dearth of social distancing may contribute to a surge of COVID-19 cases according to health officials.

Yosemite National Park is reopening Thursday.

However, Tuolumne County — where most of the national park is situated — has posted travel advisories asking people to postpone non-essential trips into the county.

Closer to home, CALFit Manteca is reopening today despite the fact San Joaquin County has not given the green light for gyms and fitness centers to do so.  That comes on the heels of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s announcement he’ll allow the reopening of gyms with modifications starting this Friday with the caveat individual counties have the final say.

That said some other Manteca area fitness centers have already re-opened including 209 Core that opened June 1 and is located just outside the city in the county’s jurisdiction

It is just two examples of conflicting messages and actions as California moves forward with reopening while still dealing with the reality of COVID-19 having no known vaccine that would reduce it to “acceptable” death levels such as the flu.

And while several Stockton City Council members are calling for that city possibly mandating the wearing of face masks in public due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization, such action isn’t being suggested in Manteca although Mayor Ben Cantu indicated he is in favor of considering providing the county health department provides city leaders with Manteca-specific data regarding any spike, hospitalizations, and deaths that would make such a move seem prudent.

“We’ve been asking for Manteca data for two months from the county and are getting nothing,” Cantu said.

Cantu’s frustration is shared by Manteca Fire Battalion Chief Dave Marques who serves as coordinator of the city’s emergency operations center that was activated in mid-March to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The dearth of Manteca information makes it difficult for local officials to judge the severity of the increase in cases.

Marques noted that Manteca is not mandating the wearing of masks although the city encourages their use. While that may seem contradictory, Marques said there has been no concrete determination that the use of masks reduces the chances of the person wearing them from inadvertently spreading the virus. That said he noted wearing masks does help people feel that they are reducing the risk of infecting others in the event they may carry the virus but not get ill themselves.

Many stores, out of an abundance of caution, are requiring customers to wear face masks.

Most health departments when they trace those that may have been exposed by those stricken with COVID-19 typically seek out individuals that may have been in close proximity to the patient for at least 10 to 15 minutes during a set period prior to the first symptoms surfacing.

It is why the social distancing of 6 feet has been repeatedly stressed. It isn’t unusual, as an example, for people to stand in lines at checkouts for 10 minutes.


Gym re-openings

The decision for CALFit to reopen comes on the heels of City Manager Miranda Lutzow essentially indicating at last week’s City Council meeting that was a choice that gym owners would have to make.

Even though the governor has given counties the go ahead to allow gyms to reopen with restrictions in place, San Joaquin County Health Officer Maggie Park has shared with local officials a dilemma she is weighing — if the current upswing in cases continues to grow and gyms are allowed to reopen Friday she could be in the awkward position of trying to close them down two weeks from now.

Marques repeated what top Manteca officials have been saying for the past month that they lack the manpower to enforce what is basically a county order to keep certain businesses closed or that social distancing protocols are enforced at concerns that have re-opened.

Lutzow has repeatedly stated that if the city receives a complaint about potential COVID-19 violations that it would be referred to either the San Joaquin County Health Department or the CHP.

Several gyms have also already reopened in Stanislaus County although the governor said the earliest they could reopen — with the concurrence of the local county — is Friday.


Phased reopening

for Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is reopening Thursday with a phased approach using a temporary day-use reservation system. In the initial opening phase, the system will offer 1,700 vehicle passes each day. Passes are to be validated at the park entrance gate on the reservation date and can be used for 7 days of entry.

The day use-vehicle reservations are on sale through The day-use vehicle reservation system will no longer be used when the park resumes regular operations.

Visitors with a camping or concession-operated lodging reservation, wilderness or Half Dome permit, vacation rental inside the park, and visitors entering via the local public transit system (Yosemite Area Regional Transportation System (YARTS buses) or with a tour from one of the local businesses that have commercial use authorizations (CUAs) will not require a day-use reservation for park entry and will also have access to the park beginning Thursday. In the initial phase, the park’s target is to allow approximately 50 percent of the average June vehicle entry rate (which equates to 3,600 vehicle entries each day). The park will monitor conditions daily and will make adjustments as needed to maintain safe conditions for visitors.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email