California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlines six steps for reopening the state. Newsom spoke about protecting the most vulnerable from the coronavirus, and explained the importance of redrawing floor plans for businesses and schools to practice safe physical distancing.
Gov. Gavin Newsom described on Tuesday the six steps needed to be taken, and achieved, before he would gradually release at least some of the Golden State from the coronavirus restrictions that have kept 40 million residents indoors for much of the last month.
However the key question -- when will this be over? -- was not immediately answered. He thought he might have a better answer for a timeline for relaxing the stay-at-home orders during the first week of May.
"There is no light switch here, it's more like a dimmer," he said, stressing that "we must continue to hold the line."
He and California Dept. of Public Health Director Sonia Angell outlined six indicators that need to be met for modifying the stay-at-home order.
Gov. Gavin Newsom is set to provide the latest update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 health emergency during his daily news conference Tuesday.
The briefing is scheduled to begin at noon and will be carried live.
On Tuesday morning, the governor again urged people to continue to follow stay-at-home orders, resisting demands from demonstrators who have called for California to reopen during a series of protests across the state.
“If we all pull back, we could see a second wave that makes this pale in comparison,” Newsom warned in an interview on CBS This Morning.
He said the state simply hasn’t yet seen the significant decline in ICU patients needed for the state to ease coronavirus restrictions.
“We are committed to a process, we’ve socialized that process and we are leaning in, working with 58 counties across the state to make sure we do it together in a thoughtful and strategic way,” Newsom told CBS News.
A timeline for easing restrictions, however, has not yet been given, but the governor continued to concede that a return to normal anytime soon would be “unrealistic.”
As he has said previously, Californians should expect to wear masks in public, have their temperature routinely taken and see radically different floor plans in schools and businesses once stay-at-home measures are relaxed.
California’s outbreak of the new coronavirus, COVID-19, started in a nail salon, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Thursday.
Newsom shared this information during a press conference with reporters, after he was asked why nail salons are in the later stages of California’s reopening plan.
"This whole thing started in the state of California — the first community spread — in a nail salon," he said, according to SFGate.com. "I just wanted to remind you, remind everybody, of that. I'm very worried about that.”
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Newsom added that the fact that salon workers already wear masks and gloves for protection and were still infected is worrisome.
“As you may know, it's certainly informed me that many of the practices that you would otherwise expect of a modification were already in play in many of these salons with people that had procedure masks on, were using gloves and advancing higher levels of sanitation," he said.
Newsom did not elaborate on how the virus spread at a nail salon or specify the location.
The state announced in late April that the first deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S. actually occurred in California, not in Washington as was initially thought. The Santa Clara Medical Examiner-Coroner office said that two people in the area died of the virus in early February, well before the first reported death in Washington on Feb. 29.
Local leaders and the governor declared a state of emergency early in March while, in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio was still infamously encouraging people to get out and enjoy themselves. For a while, the state was touted as a success story — and in some sense it is one. San Francisco, with only 36 coronavirus deaths, certainly deserves a victory lap. Statewide, the death toll has reached more than 3,000 in a state with 39 million people. If the country had managed the virus as well as the state of California did, America likely would have had far fewer deaths than the about 90,000 tallied so far.
But now, California is in limbo and is making very little progress toward an exit strategy. Case numbers aren’t falling, despite the lockdown. Testing is increasing, but too slowly. The state can’t meet its goals for contact tracing and isolating exposed people. The state’s guidelines for when to reopen look reasonable, but it’s not clear when (or if) they’ll actually be met.
This is bad news. It’s also jarring, because California has more resources, more public cooperation, and in many respects better leadership than most states. If all those advantages have nonetheless left the state with no real path to reopen, it seems as though most states should expect even worse. California’s experience illustrates just how vexing the coronavirus has been to deal with — and just how steep the challenge is for the country as a whole as it inches its way to a reopening that it hasn’t yet earned.
California’s public health leadership has been pretty good. It hasn’t been enough. On March 20, when a statewide stay-at-home order was put into place across California (one had already gone into effect four days earlier in the Bay Area), about 1,000 cases had been detected in the state and about 20 people had died. The hope at the time was that the stay-at-home order would not just “flatten the curve” — causing new case numbers to grow more slowly — but crush it, getting case numbers much lower so that the state could safely reopen.
For weeks, public health officials watched to see if the stay-at-home order had worked. Case numbers in California grew more slowly than elsewhere in the country — but they did keep growing. The order, originally set to expire April 7, was extended through April, and then extended through May. (The state has inched — more slowly than most other states — toward opening low-risk businesses, with social distancing measures in place.)
Now there have been more than 75,000 cases reported in California. The first week in May had a spike in confirmed cases. The second week had even more, with cases at their highest numbers yet. That might be partially an artifact of improved testing — as more tests become available, more people test positive. But other indicators not dependent on testing aren’t that great, either. New deaths in the state have been effectively flat, at about 70 a day. The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients has also been effectively flat, maybe declining very slightly. (The state is not homogeneous; things look better in the Bay Area and worse in Los Angeles.)
That’s a problem. One of the hopes for stay-at-home orders was that they would cause significant declines in new case numbers, not just get to a plateau. Once new cases become relatively rare, states could set up contact tracing, isolation of confirmed and possible cases, and other less restrictive strategies for combating the virus.
That remains the best way out of lockdown, but those strategies are harder to implement when case numbers keep rising. The fact that California’s stay-home order didn’t decrease, or only slightly decreased, the number of new cases means that the road ahead will be a very hard one.
“The US was not able to reach suppression with our lockdown,” virologist Trevor Bedford wrote last week, “and so we’re left with agonizing decisions about how to keep society functioning while holding the virus in check.”
What went wrong? The best explanation is that California’s stay-home order, like many orders around the country, did not get the so-called R0 for the coronavirus to significantly below 1 (some preprints estimate it around 0.9).
Let’s spell that out. An R0 of 1 means that the average person with the coronavirus transmits it to about one additional person. Things won’t get exponentially worse, but nor will they start to improve. Over time, case numbers will stay relatively flat and “crushing the curve” will be out of reach. What this all adds up to is that, despite months of lockdown, case numbers are not going back down.
The California stay-at-home order still involves more face-to-face contact with other people than the lockdowns in places that successfully controlled the virus. California hasn’t adopted centralized isolation, for instance, which would let sick people avoid infecting family members, and has a large homeless population exempted from the stay-home orders.
A CDC estimate suggests about 50 percent of Californians were still leaving their homes regularly after the stay-home order. In Italy, by contrast, mobility fell 85 percent under their lockdown. “That’s still 50 percent” at risk of exposure and of transmitting the virus, UC San Francisco epidemiologist and infectious disease expert George Rutherford told the Los Angeles Times.