A closed sign is posted at Xavier's Barber Shop in Old Town Elk Grove. 

More Sacramento County businesses were ordered to reclose their indoor services this week, due to a rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Sacramento County public health officials issued this temporary order on July 14 after Gov. Gavin Newsom mandated that these businesses temporarily cease their operations. The order will continue until the county’s public health officer decides to lift it.

Sacramento County is one of 30 California counties that Newsom mentioned in his mandate during his July 13 press conference. That county is on the state’s watch list of counties that have rising numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

Newsom addressed the rise in COVID-19 cases during his press conference.

“We’re seeing an increase in the spread of the virus, so that’s why it’s incumbent upon all of us to recognize soberly that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon until there is a vaccine or an effective therapy,” he said.

In her July 14 order, Sacramento County Public Health Officer Dr. Olivia Kasirye stated that her county had 150 COVID-related hospitalizations on July 10. She also noted that 16% of Intensive Care Unit beds are available in the county, as of press time.

“Private gatherings have been identified as a significant contributing factor to the increase in transmission,” Kasirye’s July 14 order stated. “Given current rates of transmission and increase in hospitalization in Sacramento County, there is a need to reduce non-essential gatherings where mixing and disease spread occur.”

Kasirye’s staff reported that as of July 15, Sacramento County had 6,174 confirmed cases and 92 deaths since March. Elk Grove reportedly had 641 cases and six deaths during that period.

Sacramento County’s order, which also calls for the closure of places of worship and gymnasiums, left many hairstylists and barbers frustrated and scrambling to contact their clients who had already made appointments.

Old Town EG barbershops, salons respond

Hair salons and barbershops in Elk Grove found themselves in familiar territory after Newsom’s mandate was issued.

These businesses previously experienced a temporary closure during the government stay-at-home order that affected those establishments this spring. Hairstylists and barbers were allowed to return to work in late May.

Those reopenings came with various requirements, including that both workers and clients must wear face coverings, a new smock or cape needs to be given to each client, and working stations and high-traffic areas must be sanitized on a regular basis.

Eileen Coppola, owner of Austin B. Morgan Salon, told the Citizen that she does not agree with the order.

“If you look at Sacramento County, the population, it’s over 1.5 million people, and the cases in Sacramento County are a little over 5,000,” she said. “So, to me, that doesn’t seem like a big, red flag.

“We’re taking all the precautions. We wipe down after every client, we do appointments one at a time, we wear our masks. My salon only has three chairs, so I don’t see a problem. I’m very upset. I think it’s a little ridiculous.”

Coppola added that she does not believe that salons are to blame for spreading the disease in high numbers.

“I don’t think it’s the restaurants and the hair salons and things like that,” she said.

With this order in place, Coppola plans to conduct her business outside.

“I’m going to do a couple haircuts outside with my chair, and if they come by and say something and I can’t do that, then I won’t,” she said.

Dave Keen, owner of Dave’s Barbershop, also shared his feelings on the shutdown.

“They’re not gaining the right information for the right type of industry that can operate or not operate,” he said. “They’re just doing a massive shutdown and it’s hurting the small businesses. COVID-19 is going to thrive and businesses are going to go away.”

Frank Xavier, owner of Xavier’s Barber and Styling Salon, mentioned that he also does not agree with Newsom’s order.

“I think he’s going too far,” he said. “He’s getting power-hungry. People die every day. I remember we had the Hong Kong Flu (pandemic in the late 1960s). We survived.

“It’s just the media overdid it. It’s just every little thing. People die of car accidents, suicide, drug overdose. They don’t close nothing down.”

Xavier also mentioned his concern for the economy.

“It’s hurting everybody, the economy,” he said. “Nobody can work.”

Anita Rivera, a hairstylist at Old Town Salon and Spa, said that she has mixed emotions regarding the closure.

“We’re really protected, because we always wash our hands and wear our face masks and gloves,” she said. “But I realize it is dangerous. So, I don’t know. I’m just mixed emotions.

“I don’t want to get sick for one thing, and I don’t want any of my family to get sick. And the other side of it is how about the people that come in? (The situation) is just beyond control right now. I just don’t know.”

Rivera also shared her frustration with her loss of income.

“Financially, it’s a burden, because we’ve still got to pay our bills,” she said. “We’ve still got to pay the rent there. We’ve still got to continue on, and it’s hard.”

Camarillo Salon owner Sharon Camarillo also expressed frustration with the order to close hair salons and barbershops.

“I’m pretty devastated,” she said. “I’m kind of sick to my stomach. And are they going to offer the stimulus package? I’m just worried financially.

“People are getting tired of this. I know there’s a pandemic out there, but come on. I don’t know. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”

Local churches to host outdoor, online services

A few local church staff members told the Citizen they will host worship services either online or outside after Newsom called for the closure of indoor services at places of worship.

Elk Grove United Methodist Church will continue to have online worship services on Sunday mornings via the church’s Facebook page. Janee Anson-King, an administrative assistant at the church, said they will keep that format into the fall since local COVID-19 cases are still rising.

“In September, we will consider the state of the pandemic in our community and evaluate whether some services may be safe to begin again,” she said. “We will most likely begin small and increase what we offer as community safety grows. While we miss gathering in-person terribly, it is crucial to focus on how keeping people safe is the best way right now to love our neighbors.”

Elk Grove’s St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church plans to hold Masses outside at their campus on Sunday mornings. They will also host a Vigil Mass every Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m. on the church’s Facebook Live page.

Creekside Christian Church plans to host another “drive-in” worship service at 9 a.m. on Sunday, July 19. Attendees will be asked to stay in their vehicles at the church’s parking lot and listen to service via FM radio.

News Editor Cameron Macdonald contributed to this story.