Once a COVID-19 cooling zone, Napa County now a hot spot as cases rise and restrictions tighten

As rain fell on Napa Wednesday, it felt like salt on an old economic wound as the county turned back the clock.

Thursday, November 19, 2020
Once a COVID-19 cooling zone, Napa Co. now a hotspot as cases rise
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Napa County residents are bracing for the economic impact as the county moves back into the "purple tier."

NAPA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- When Gov. Gavin Newsom hit his proverbial COVID-19 brakes two days ago, it hit California counties like whiplash

Wednesday morning, Napa County saw the impact.

Tuesday night, Napa went to sleep in the orange tier and they woke up in the purple, meaning stricter measures took effect.

As rain fell on Napa Wednesday, it felt like salt on an old economic wound.

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Napa County had been doing so well and then the spike hit.

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Napa went from only four cases per 100,000 in October, to an unadjusted 22.1 just two days ago.

Once a COVID-19 cooling zone, Napa is now a hot spot and the numbers seen Wednesday reflect realities of two weeks ago.

The numbers surprised no one. They had been watching. And the numbers recorded Wednesday still run two weeks behind what's coming back from the state.

They could get worse.

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"Our COVID rate is over 20 but after you apply a testing credit, we get it down to 14," said Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza.

He also knows the implication of those numbers.

"People are going to lose their jobs this week. Businesses will decide if they are going to keep their doors open," he said.

For wine merchant Adam Housley, it's a tough reality.

Purple means no service inside and limited tasting outside. The same goes for restaurants. He's frustrated by the state sending mixed messages about how to keep people safe in his business.

"It's a dangerous thing we're facing," Housley said. "But we know what we're facing. Let's do it right and figure it out."

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Napa County is particularly vulnerable because it relies so heavily on tourism.

"We have lost millions of dollars," said Pedroza.

But good for business may not be so good for county health

Bakery owner Toni Chiappetta cannot count how many times she has to tell customers to wear masks.

"Everybody is tired of it," she said. "I get it. People were getting complacent, I think."

Now, they're purple and winter is coming.

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