On Tuesday, Governor Gavin Newsom, joined by Department of Public Health Director Sonia Angell, outlined the steps that California needs to take to return to normal following the COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown.
Six phases and six indicators
The Governor laid out the six phases that need to happen before California can be back to where it was pre-pandemic: Containment, Mitigation, Surging, Suppression, Herd Immunity, and Vaccine. As California has already closed down all non-essential businesses with a stay-at-home order, Governor Newsom said that California is currently on ‘surging’ rounding to ‘suppression’. This means the peak is almost here, and that things such as more health care workers and more medical supplies will slowly be lessened for more actively fighting the coronavirus by instituting such measures as mass disinfection and cleanup.
To change the stay-at-home order, Dr. Angell outlined another six-point plan that would also serve as a model for the ‘suppression’ phase:
“We need to ensure our ability to care for the sick within our hospitals, prevent infection in people who are at high risk for severe disease, build the capacity to protect the health and well-being of the public, and reduce social, emotional and economic disruptions,” stated Dr. Angell.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel”
While there is no definite timeline for when everything will be completed, Newsom warned that it would not be a quick jump back into normal life. Newsom emphasized staggering students when they come in, with some coming during the morning and others in the afternoon. He also said that restaurants would have reduced capacities to ensure that social distancing measures were being taken correctly, and that mask usage would be standard for a period of time in public or at work non-remotely.
“Let’s not pull the plug too early,” noted Newsom in his plan for a gradual rollout. “There’s no light switch here. I would argue it’s more like a dimmer.”
“We have to continue to hold the line.”
However, despite illustrating the long and gradual process ahead, Governor Newsom remained optimistic for the state while also pointing out the need for a returned economy.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” added Newsom. “This can’t be a permanent state. And I want you to know, it’s not. We recognize the consequences of these stay-at-home orders have a profound impact on the economy.”
No timeline and no speculation
While the plan was expected, there were no dates given on the recovery. Newsom did say that he would have a timeline in early May when lockdowns are expected to start ending and the state legislature is to begin again. Newsom’s vagueness led to many criticisms on Tuesday.
“He didn’t even give a ballpark figure,” noted Modesto-based economist Henry Sanda. “I think it’s a mistake. He gave an excellent plan on where to go from here and what to expect, but no dates. Or months. We have projections, so even a rough date would have been something.”
“It’s not a ‘wait-and-see’ sort of thing either because we know where we are at and where we’ll be. That’s important for businesses owners and economists to know. It’s important for the stock market, and for cities depending on taxes. But no, we’ll be in dark or another half a month.”
“A lot of businesses don’t have that much time. A lot of people out of work don’t have that time. He just screwed over a lot of people by pushing the timeline announcement back.”
Newsom has remained committed to not making any big announcements until the facts were known, and has stayed largely away from speculation due to the changing nature of the coronavirus. During an announcement with the states of Washington and Oregon on Monday on opening their economies together, Newsom only further emphasized this approach.
“We will be driven by facts,” explained Newsom on Monday. “We will be driven by evidence. We will be driven by science. We will be driven by our public health advisers, and we will be driven by the collaborative spirit that defines the best of us at this incredibly important moment.”
As of Tuesday, 24, 578 coronavirus cases have been recorded in California with 733 deaths.