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Council leaning toward mandatory masks
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Manteca Police are now enforcing social distancing in stores that are allowed to be open during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time several Manteca council members are in favor of pursing a requirement that all people who venture out into public within the city limits would be required to wear masks. The city for now will strongly recommend that masks be worn. That is a step ahead of the county that as of 5 p.m. Wednesday made it clear masks are a voluntary decision and no consideration is currently being made to make them mandatory.

The city’s first step, should they move toward mandatory masks in public, may require store employees to wear them.

Interim City Manager Miranda Lutzow has made the decision to make Manteca the first municipality in the county to require all city hall employees to wear masks while on the job starting Monday.

The Centers for Disease Control strongly recommends the wearing of masks in public. Medical experts say in doing so it would prevent someone who is carrying the virus who has yet to show symptoms or who may never become ill from spreading but not necessarily the person wearing the mask from contracting the virus.

The police department’s three school resource officers are being charged with making social distancing of six feet between customers such as those standing in checkout lines. They are also patrolling the city’s 70 park and recreation venues to disperse any illegal gatherings.

The decision to become more aggressive came after San Joaquin County Health Department Director Dr. Maggie Park issued an emergency order for more stepped up compliance.

Wednesday was another record day for confirmed COVID-19 cases in San Joaquin County with 29 new cases and two additional deaths as of 5 p.m. There are now 364 confirmed cases and 19 deaths to date.

There were 1,061 new cases statewide on Wednesday and 76 deaths. The California total is now 26,838 cases and 864 deaths.

Nationally there are now 609,685 COVID-19 cases with 26,059 deaths including 10,842 in New York state.
Manteca Police Lt. Stephen Schuler told the Manteca City Council during a special meeting Wednesday that two big box retailers that he declined to identify were told by officers to start enforcing social distancing after receiving citizen complaints about crowding at checkout lines.

Schuler said guidance for businesses to follow to craft such rules should be posted today on the city’s Facebook page and website.

Park’s order requires all store by the end of business on Friday to complete a plan that outlines the steps they are taking to comply with the emergency order and how they are actively enforce the orders. Those rules must be posted by 11:59 p.m. on April. 17.

It must include imposing measures to avoid unnecessary contacts, limiting the number of people allowed in stores, boxes or crosses placed on the floor at  checkout lines for six foot social distancing, and making sure sanitation measurements are included. That said, stores are allowed to tailor-make rules for their particular operations but must include elements outlined by the county.

Stores must present officers with the rules when requested or face fines.

Officers will primarily enforce social distancing on a complaint driven basis.

Meanwhile, city staff is crafting a new ordinance for council consideration to put in place penalties for those businesses not complying that would impose financial penalties for ignoring lawful orders during declared emergencies that are issued by the state, county health department, or city. It also would include provisions that would essentially put non-complying businesses out of business by revoking business permits.


Pandemic expected to peak

 May 30 in San Joaquin County

The hospitalizations are expected to peak in San Joaquin County at 299 on May 30. 

Without social distancing the peak was projected to hit on April 30 with 768 new COVID-19 cases requiring hospital admissions in a single day.

The projected number of daily intensive care unit admissions would peak at 90 on May 30 instead of 230 on April 30.

Social distancing also means the peak number of coronavirus patients that will be required to go on ventilators in a given day will be at 60 on May 30 instead of 154 on April 30.

Public health officials say that models shows social distancing is working but even with the flattening of the curve, hospitalizations will likely require makeshift hospital space.

Manteca, Lathrop, and Ripon officials are again reminding people that the Centers for Disease Control indicates that people can transmit the disease to others before they show symptoms or without getting sick. It is why they are becoming even more aggressive at enforcing the governor’s orders for store closures and social distancing.

Leave county for a vacation

and you may not be

allowed to return home

The county orders now in place prohibit travel outside of the county unless you are employed by an essential service and are going to and from work. Exceptions are also made for “essential activities” that include but is not limited to medical care.

If you leave the county for a vacation or other non-essential purpose you may not be permitted to return to your residence.

The travel restriction is aimed at preventing the spreading of the virus to new areas and to prevent exposing new populations to the coronavirus.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email