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Gov. Newsom: How California Can Start Loosening Stay-At-Home Orders

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In his daily coronavirus update, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new details about reopening businesses and schools in California. You can read highlights below or watch the press conference above.

REOPENING SCHOOLS

The state is considering starting the school year in late July or early August in order to help avoid "learning loss," Newsom said, but that decision has not yet been made.

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REOPENING OTHER PUBLIC SPACES

Coronavirus isn't going away soon, California Department of Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell said. She said that modifications to stay-at-home orders have to be guided by a commitment to equity and that individuals, businesses and government need to take responsibility.

Newsom talked about regional differences. Residents in some parts of the state want to reopen soon while the Bay Area recently extending its stay-at-home order to May 18.

FOUR PHASES TO FULLY LIFTING STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS

There are four phases in California's "Resilience Roadmap," Angell and Newsom said. The first two (we're currently in the first one) are:

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  • Phase 1: Safety and Preparedness

This includes making workplaces for essential workers as safe as possible. Newsom said community surveillance is essential in this phase.
The state will continue to expand testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution and hospital surge capacity in this stage. It includes essential workplaces making physical and workflow adaptations, an essential workforce safety net, making PPE more widely available and individual behavior changes. There are also sector-by-sector safety guidelines being prepared for an expanded workforce.

  • Phase 2: Lower Risk Workplaces

This includes gradually opening some lower risk workplaces with adaptations, including modifications to allow physical distancing.
Sectors listed by Angell include retail with changes like curbside pickup, manufacturing (of items like toys, clothing and furniture), offices (but only when telecommuting isn't possible) and opening more public spaces (like parks and trails).

It also includes modified school programs and child care providers reopening with adaptations. Summer programs and the school year may start sooner, with the state looking at late July or early August. Child care facilities are currently limited to essential workers but this would allow them to expand. The state wants to address learning gaps, ensure students and staff are safe in those schools, and allow parents to return to work.

This phase requires wage replacement to allow workers to stay home when they're sick, Angell said.

HOW TO GET FROM PHASE 1 TO PHASE 2

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To move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, here are the indicators state officials are considering:

  • Hospitalizations and ICU trends remain stable
  • Hospital surge capacity maintained to meet demands if there are increased infections in the next stage from increased movement
  • There is sufficient PPE to meet demands, including anticipating future needs and knowing PPE can be secured
  • Sufficient testing capacity to meet demand
  • Contact tracing capacity statewide, including working with local health authorities and governments to make sure capacity is there

Angell divided the actions needed to move to this next phase into three parts:

  • Government Actions

This includes creating policies that allow people to stay home when they're sick and providing guidance on how to reduce risk.

  • Business Actions

This includes businesses paying workers when they need to stay home sick, adapting to make workplaces lower risk and allowing employees to continue working from home when possible. Angell said the state will continue to encourage employers to have their employees work from home.

  • Individual Actions

The state wants people to continue safety precautions like physical distancing and wearing face coverings, to avoid non-essential travel and to support and care for people who are at higher risk. That support includes making phone calls to check in on people and figuring out other ways to help them.
REGIONAL VARIATIONS IN STAY-AT HOME ORDERS

During Phase 2, counties can choose to relax stricter local orders at their own pace, according to Angell. State orders will still need to be followed but localities can either loosen or tighten restrictions, as needed.

More regional variations could be supported following Phase 2, once a statewide COVID-19 surveillance system has been made possible through testing, according to Angell. The state will consult and collaborate with local governments.

THE NEXT TWO PHASES

It will be months before we get to these next two phases, Newsom said, and these timelines can change if people are careless in their behavior.

  • Phase 3: Higher Risk Workplaces

This allows higher risk workplaces to adapt and reopen. That includes personal care businesses such as gyms, hair salons and nail salons — any businesses that involve close proximity, Angell said. Entertainment venues, such as movie theaters and sports venues without live audiences, are also included here. This category also includes in-person religious services (churches, weddings).

  • Phase 4: End of Stay-At-Home Order

This phase includes reopening with an expanded workforce at the highest risk workplaces. This includes large-scale events like concerts, convention centers and live audience sports. It requires therapeutics for coronavirus to be in place.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

The number of deaths rose from 45 to 54, Newsom said — roughly half of the number of daily deaths seen last week. The number of new coronavirus positives: 1,576, up from 1,300 the day before. The hospitalization rate went up 2.5%. ICU numbers went down slightly after being stable the day before, Newsom said.

MORE CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

The hospitalization numbers are stabilizing, Newsom said, although they're not yet declining. Newsom reiterated that California is weeks, not months, away from loosening stay-at-home restrictions. He said that people ask whether that means one week or three weeks but that depends on the data.

Newsom also said progress has been made in coronavirus testing, with 585,000 tests conducted in California so far. There are more than 20,000 tests being conducted per day currently, with the state well on its way to 25,000 per day. The ultimate goal is 60,000 to 80,000 tests per day.

California has acquired 12,500 hotel rooms meant to house the homeless as part of Project Roomkey, according to Newsom. The state has distributed 2.8 million of 3.1 million masks it has acquired although he said we aren't close to where we need to be with personal protective equipment.

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