Coronavirus: First case of COVID-19 community spread in California tracked to nail salon, Newsom reveals in press conference

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The first case of community spread of novel coronavirus in California can be tracked back to a nail salon, Gov. Gavin Newsom revealed in a press conference Thursday.

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The announcement wasn't part of the governor's prepared remarks; he mentioned it in only in response to a question about why churches and salons aren't being allowed to open in Stage 2 of the state's reopening.

"This whole thing started in the state of California - the first community spread - in a nail salon. I just want to remind you, remind everybody, of that. I'm very worried about that."

"Community spread" means the virus was locally contracted, not from traveling to a foreign country or by being in close proximity who recently traveled to a foreign country.

The first case of community spread in California was known to have occurred in Solano County in February.

The county told ABC7 News, "Solano Public Health cannot confirm this information and we did not release this information when the first COVID-19 community spread occurred."
Nail salons, spas, barbershops and the like are included in Stage 3 of reopening. They are considered higher risk environments because the business necessitates close proximity between people.

Newsom pointed out that nail technicians typically wear face masks and even sometimes gloves, yet COVID-19 was apparently still transmitted. That makes the reopening of such businesses particularly challenging.

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"Candidly, our health directors, the experts, the counsel I have received are very worried about moving precipitously into that next phase," he said.

Yuba and Sutter counties, both north of Sacramento, decided to reopen nail salons, tattoo parlors, shopping malls and other businesses to reopen this week. On Tuesday, Gov. Newsom called the move "a big mistake."

Still, Newsom has not - at least not publicly - instructed the counties to reverse course.

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