- On Tuesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom unveiled the state’s tentative plan for modifying its stay-at-home order to contain the coronavirus disease.
- But a few things need to happen before state leaders can begin moving forward with the modifications, such as an increase in testing, contact tracing, and better protecting vulnerable residents, such as those who are homeless.
- Newsom did not say when these changes would occur, but even if these modifications are made, life would still look very different.
- Newsom said restaurants could open but with fewer tables and disposable menus, and schools could open but with staggered student cohorts in the morning and afternoon, for example.
- The state’s plans come a day after California announced its partnership with Oregon and Washington to develop a regional plan for loosening up on stay-at-home order restrictions and to restart the state’s economies.
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In a Tuesday news briefing, California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined the state’s plan for eventually loosening stay-at-home order restrictions.
The governor acknowledged that residents are eager to know when life could return to normal as the statewide stay-at-home order reaches its fourth week but Newsom said multiple factors would need to be considered before modifications could be made to the order’s restrictions.
“There’s no light switch here,” Newsom said in a Tuesday news briefing. “It’s more like a dimmer.”
He said it will be more of a matter of “toggling” between loosening restrictions and tightening them again as the state explores how best to exit the stay-at-home order. Residents would need to continue to comply with the stay-at-home order, and hospitalization and ICU numbers would need to not only flatten but decline.
The governor did not attach a timeline to it, but he did say this was an “optimistic” plan for California. Newsom invited reporters to “ask me the question again,” in two weeks to see how the state was doing relative to meeting the minimum requirements to consider loosening the restrictions.
“This can’t be a permanent state, and I want you to know that it’s not,” Newsom said.
Here’s what would need to happen before state leaders and public health officials could begin modifying the stay-at-home order that went into effect on March 19.
The state would need to work harder to prevent infection in those who are at risk of severe COVID-19 symptoms, including those who are incarcerated, homeless, or elderly.
The state’s homeless population is vulnerable, as those living on the streets are at a high risk of contracting infectious diseases due to lack of shelter and resources to practice proper hygiene.
An outbreak has already hit San Francisco’s homeless shelter community, for example. More than 90 homeless residents at the city’s largest shelter have tested positive for the disease, and at least 30 people living in SRO hotels have as well. Those living in SROs are usually residents in danger of entering homelessness.
The city’s Board of Supervisors is voting this week on a proposal that would require San Francisco to rent 7,000 unoccupied hotel rooms to house and protect its entire homeless population throughout the state of emergency.
About 3,500 of the state’s 115,000 in the state’s jail systems are expected to be released during the COVID-19 public health emergency in an attempt to protect them by removing them from such large congregate settings. But some advocates have said that isn’t enough.
Hospitals and healthcare systems need to be properly supplied with ventilators, masks, and other items to adequately treat infected patients.
Nurses, doctors, and support staff are on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, and ensuring they have what they need to do their job is vital in keeping the number of infections down and the curve flattened.
Work will need to continue with academia and researchers to help in advancing efforts to fight the virus.
Newsom said that there’s no shortage of technology companies in California that could help amid the public health emergency, such as helping to establish an infrastructure to help with contact tracing.
State and public health officials would need to be able to identify when to reinstitute certain measures if necessary if restrictions are loosened too much and they need to be reeled back.
This could include identifying a tracking system to serve as an early warning system to contain pockets of the spread of the virus.
Relaxing restrictions on the public as part of the order would create more room for an increase in the spread of the virus and more confirmed infections. Newsom said reintroducing aspects of normal life would only work if all residents took greater individual accountability in helping to do what is necessary to contain the disease, such as self-isolating if they test positive.
stay at home order