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Newsom: Californians 65+ Should Self Isolate; Bars, Night Clubs, Wineries, Brew Pubs Should Shut Down

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom, releasing new and far stricter guidelines, today called for all seniors and people with underlying conditions to be isolated at home as a precaution against the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom said those guidelines affect 5.3 million Californians.

He also advised all wineries, bars and brewpubs to close until further notice, calling them a "nonessential function" of the state.

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The new guidelines include:

  • Advising all people 65 or older to self-isolate at home
  • Directing all bars, brew pubs, night clubs, and wineries to shut down
  • Restaurants should be at no more than 50% occupancy and ensure social distancing among their patrons

Why keep restaurants open when bars are being told to close? Newsom said they didn't think that closing all restaurants was necessary at this point, and he added that there is a real concern over food access, particularly when implementing social isolation and distancing practices. Not everyone has a kitchen or can prepare their own food, and some people with mobility issues may find it even harder to get to the grocery store. By definition, restaurants provide expanded points of access to food, Newsom said.
"We recognize that social isolation for millions of Californians is anxiety-inducing," Newsom said, "but we recognize what all of the science bears out, and what we recognize around the rest of the world: that we need to meet this moment head on and lean in."

Newsom was asked about how the state would roll out and enforce these guidelines. He responded that officials had a lot of experience dealing with emergencies such as fires and earthquakes, which he said made logistics in California a "well-oiled machine." He conceded the state operation had never before been tested with this type of an emergency.

Newsom said state officials are also deep into negotiations to allow for major medical centers to operate in facilities currently not in use.

Newsom said they have been studying what did, and did not, work in countries including China, South Korea, Singapore, Italy, Spain and Canada. He said he had the capacity to take additional steps through executive orders, if needed. He called the moves today:

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"A very pragmatic response to meet this moment without creating other unintended consequences."

California has so far seen a total of 335 positive tests for coronavirus, and six people have now died because of COVID-19. Newsom said the guidelines he laid out were intended to protect the state's most vulnerable populations, including those 65 years and older, those with chronic or underlying medical conditions, and the homeless.

Here are some more key takeaways from today's update:

MOBILE TESTS VIA GOOGLE

Clearing up some confusion over an expected partnership with Google, Newsom said the state is rolling out two pilot mobile test sites in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County, respectively. The test sites are a partnership with Verily, a health sciences subsidiary of Alphabet, which is Google's parent company.

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The sites are expected to go live in the next 24 to 48 hours in conjunction with a web screening portal. The portal will ask you a few questions and give you a score, along with some advice on whether testing is called for in your situation. From there you will be able to make an appointment at one of the test clinics.

Newsom stressed the mobile test sites are not meant to replace a phone call to your doctor or a trip to urgent care if you have a real need. They are designed for people who have developed mild symptoms or who are part of a vulnerable population, such as seniors, who may be concerned about their status. If your symptoms are serious, call your doctor's office or 911 and explain your situation so they can prepare for your arrival.

Newsom said he hopes the mobile test site model will be something that can expand to other counties and possibly other states.

STATEWIDE TESTING CAPACITY

California has conducted 8,316 tests so far between its 19 labs, hospitals from Stanford to the University of California system to City of Hope, and the private lab Quest in San Juan Capistrano. Quest is operating only one lab in California right now and conducting about 1,200 tests per day. They hope to ramp up capacity to 5,500 a day in the next week as they bring on two additional labs.

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Turnaround time on Quest notifications has been about 2-3 days, Newsom said.

HOSPITALS

Newsom also said the state is in deep negotiations with hospitals that were not in operation but could be brought online again. He said an announcement on which hospitals and when could be announced in the next few days.

The state currently has a capacity of 74,000 beds across 416 hospitals, along with a surge capacity of just shy of 9,000 beds, Newsom said. In terms of intensive care, the state has 11,500 ICU beds, which includes children's hospitals.

These new hospitals are "sizable assets" that will increase capacity by a minimum of 750 beds in "world-class settings," Newsom said.In terms of equipment, the state's hospitals combined have 7,587 ventilators. The state is also procuring new ventilators and has an additional cache of roughly 900 ventilators through other partners that can be put into use.

HOMELESS

The state is actively procuring motels and hotels to covert into temporary shelters, Newsom said. As a small example, he cited an additional 450 trailers that have been identified and that will be dispersed to critical points across the state.

He also said efforts are being made within existing shelters to ensure proper social distancing practices are being followed.

The state has an estimated 108,000 people living unsheltered, and Newsom said the state needs to meet this moment aggressively to protect those who are most vulnerable on our streets. He said 13 different task force teams are working around the clock on the issue.

SCHOOLS

Newsom said 51% of the state's school districts have closed, including 24 of the 25 largest districts. That means as many as 85% of the students in California's schools are no longer going to school, he said.

The state is currently vetting and validating all kinds of private and public sector solutions for continuing education remotely.

On Tuesday, the state plans to release detailed guidelines to help both those schools that have closed and those that remain open, Newsom said.

L.A.'s RESPONSE

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti issued a statement shortly after Newsom's address. "Everything we do right now will determine the outcome of this crisis, and we can save lives if we stay calm, care for one another, and take forceful steps to protect our communities," the mayor said. "That's why we must follow the guidelines laid out by Gov. Newsom, build on them for local needs, and put the health and safety of the most vulnerable above all else."