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Playgrounds closed under latest stay-at-home order may now reopen

Area playgrounds that had been ordered closed under California's latest coronavirus restrictions may now reopen.
Area playgrounds that had been ordered closed under California’s latest coronavirus restrictions may now reopen “to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise.”
(Nelvin C. Cepeda / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

Playgrounds throughout the state that were closed under California’s latest stay-at-home order may now reopen “to facilitate physically distanced personal health and wellness through outdoor exercise,” according to a state update Dec. 9.

The updated order drew immediate reaction from a host of local and state leaders who have recently decried the closure of playgrounds, saying it had removed an important pressure-relief valve for families with young children who otherwise were largely cooped up indoors under nearly a year of coronavirus-targeted social distancing.

The new restrictions for the Southern California region go into effect at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6, and must stay in place for at least three weeks because the region’s intensive care capacity has dropped below 15 percent.

San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher immediately sent a public shout-out to his wife, state Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who, along with a coalition of other legislators, asked for the reversal in a joint letter last week.

On Dec. 8, Fletcher was one of three county supervisors who declined to follow the lead of colleague Jim Desmond, who proposed having county staff refrain from enforcing playground closures.

Fletcher in a statement Dec. 9 indicated he and many others were working behind the scenes to push Gov. Gavin Newsom for the change.

“Thank you to everyone who worked cooperatively with the state to bring about this adjustment; our collective efforts made a difference, special shout-out to my wife, supermom Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez,” Fletcher said in a statement.

Desmond, who has said repeatedly that there is no evidence that playground exposures are driving the pandemic, was equally celebratory.

“Common sense and the pressure of the people finally broke through in Sacramento,” he said in a statement. “Throughout the past eight months, I’ve tried to follow the science and data. If you follow the science, there was no reason playgrounds should have ever been closed. I’m glad families will now have a much-needed outlet for their kids.”

San Diego County’s daily coronavirus report Dec. 9 included 2,104 new cases and 15 additional deaths. A total of 547 patients were in intensive care unit beds, leaving 137 unoccupied.

The rate of positive tests stood at 8 percent, significantly higher than the 3 percent to 5 percent that was common when the number of coronavirus-related admissions was stable.

The direction of the positivity rate over time is considered key to understanding whether the public is curtailing gatherings and wearing masks or ignoring restrictions.


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