This article was updated on April 30. It was originally published on April 24.
Stanislaus County officials announced the evening of April 22 that parks, playgrounds, drive-in church services, golf courses, archery and shooting, public sporting courts and boating are to be permitted or opened for public use starting Friday, April 24.
Stanislaus County Director of Parks and Recreation Jackie Dwyer stated that the decision to open up parks by the county gave the ability for each city in the area to decide what to do independently.
Patterson City Manager Ken Irwin stated that the city will decline to open parks and playgrounds until further notice citing the number of positive COVID-19 cases currently in the city. There were a total of 36 positive cases reported by Stanislaus County in Patterson as of Wednesday.
“The City of Patterson’s Mayor and Council’s number one priority is to keep the city’s residents safe and healthy,” said Irwin in an emailed response.
The city has opted to wait for the number of positive tests to decrease before deciding to open up playgrounds and parks again for public use.
County offers guidelines
County officials are asking the public to still maintain social distancing and that families do not share equipment with members of other households.
The playgrounds and equipment will not be disinfected by public works. The public is to use these facilities at their own risk.
The county noted that the stay-at-home order enacted by Gov. Gavin Newsom is still in place, and non-essential businesses are still asked to stay closed.
District 1 Supervisor Kristin Olsen stated in a Q&A session held on Wednesday that the process to open the parks up for recreational activity had been deliberated using data monitoring the COVID-19 spread in Stanislaus County.
“It has been in the works for quite some time based on the data and science that we’re evaluating daily,” Olsen said. “We evaluate what makes sense at this time and what doesn’t make sense at this time.”
Stanislaus County Public Health Officer Dr. Julie Vaishampayan elaborated on the decision process.
“As you know this is a balancing act. We really need to balance how we respond. How we look at our activities and ensure our hospitals are good and ensure we can do contact investigations,” Vaishampayan said.
Dr. Vaishampayan stated that the hospital capacity in the county is not full. She acknowledged that the number of cases in the county is up, but attributed some of that rise to the county’s increased contact investigations.
“We are finding many (cases) through our contact investigations and taking quick steps to isolate people who are ill,” Dr. Vaishampayan stated.
She also reminded county residents that although the outlook is better, the coronavirus is still present.
“I don’t want to give people the impression that COVID-19 is not spreading in our community, it is,” Dr. Vaishampayan said on Wednesday.
Along with using models of data to help inform the decision, Dr. Vaishampayan cited the warmer weather as an additional indicator used to decide to open up park facilities for use again.
“So the virus we know does not live outside well as it gets hotter, so the warmer it is outside, the less the virus will live on surfaces,” Dr. Vaishampayan stated. “As we look at the forecast over the next 10 days, it is in the 80s and 90s, which gives us great comfort increasing the amount of outside activities available for us to do.”