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Social distancing improves in American Canyon, more still needed, officials say

Social distancing improves in American Canyon, more still needed, officials say

From the Complete coronavirus coverage from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan series
  • Updated
American Canyon park sign, social distancing

Signs in American Canyon parks are encouraging users to practice social distancing.

AMERICAN CANYON — A better understanding of the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic situation seems to have filtered down to more people, including youth in American Canyon, as non-compliance issues with shelter-at-home orders have decreased significantly in just the last few days, according to city officials.

“There is much better compliance,” American Canyon Police Chief Oscar Ortiz said in a phone interview. “It’s still not perfect, but I think people are better understanding the reasons for the measures being taken.”

Among some of the most recent measures designed to discourage the use of parks and other public places by groups is new signage making clear that certain parts of the sites are off limits, he said.

“We removed the backboards from the basketball hoops, for instance, to discourage games,” he said. “I think we’re doing much better as a community than we were a week or so ago.”

City spokeswoman Jen Kansanback said she thinks so, too.

“In general, we see improvement in our community’s compliance with health orders,” she said. “American Canyon Police Department officers and police technicians are contacting groups when they are gathering in large groups and not using social distancing. The City closed all active-use park spaces, to include locking gates and removing basketball hoops. The City also placed signage at most of our public park spaces to help inform the community of best practices and physical distancing while enjoying the outdoor spaces that are still accessible.”

But, despite better adherence to physical distancing protocols in most circumstances, Ortiz said some people seem to forget that these safety measures apply even in supermarkets.

“Messaging about flattening the curve is amplified, but some here, and not just here, but everywhere, are struggling to maintain social distancing in grocery stores,” he said. “Specific to American Canyon, we still have lots of kids on bikes out and about and hanging out in groups, and we really need the parents to talk to them about that; to keep them in the house.”

In some cases, it’s hard to impress on young people that they are not on holiday.

“It’s not spring break,” Ortiz said. “It may feel like it, but it’s not. We can’t be everywhere.”

Otherwise, Ortiz said people have been seen observing the six feet of required social distancing on local hiking trails, and that’s good.

“There have been some complaints about businesses still being open, but when we’ve checked them out, they are found to be essential and cleared to be open,” he said. “Also, the businesses that are operating seem to be employing some robust measures for infection control – sanitizing things, keeping employees far enough apart, employees eating lunch in their cars, and not the lunch room, for instance, and that’s good to see.”

City officials said they are generally pleased with residents’ work toward helping stop the spread of COVID-19 – helping flatten the curve – to prevent a spike in cases that could overwhelm medical services.

“We very much appreciate the improved social distancing we see in the community. Keep it up, American Canyon! We are in this together. Please spread the message on the importance of social distancing and flattening the curve,” Kansanback said. “Parents of teenagers can also help by keeping your teens home and not allowing the mixing of households with social gatherings.”

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