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California governor gives outline for lifting virus closures

Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled six key indicators that he says will guide California’s thinking for when and how to modify the stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Posted: Apr 14, 2020 1:29 PM

CALIFORNIA – Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled six key indicators that he says will guide California’s thinking for when and how to modify the stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom said he won’t loosen the state’s mandatory, stay-at-home order until hospitalizations, particularly those in intensive care units, “flatten and start to decline.” And he says the state will need more testing, treatments and the ability for businesses, schools and childcare facilities to continue the physical distancing that has come to dominate public life.

“While Californians have stepped up in a big way to flatten the curve and buy us time to prepare to fight the virus, at some point in the future we will need to modify our stay-at-home order,” Newsom said. “As we contemplate reopening parts of our state, we must be guided by science and data, and we must understand that things will look different than before.”

Governor Newsom says there is not a precise timeline for when the state will open back up but says the following six factors need to be met before it does.

  • The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
  • The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
  • The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

But Newsom cautioned that when things reopen, they won’t be the same. Restaurants will have fewer tables and waiters will wear gloves and masks. Thermometers will be common in public spaces, as will masks and other protective gear. Schools could stagger arrival times of students to enforce physical distancing.

And large gatherings — like sporting events, concerts and fairs — are “not in the cards,” he said.

“This is not about going back to where we were before. It’s about going forward in ways that are healthy for all of us. But it won’t look the same,” said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health.

Newsom announced that ICU hospitalizations were mostly flat, declining 0.1% on Monday. But the state reported 71 deaths, the highest single day total since the outbreak began.

California has been under a mandatory, stay-at-home order since March 19. But the virus has been disrupting the state since January, when people from all over the world were first sent to quarantine at California military bases.

“This can’t be a permanent state. It’s not it will not be a permanent state,” Newsom said.

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