By Miriam Raftery
May 5, 2020 (Sacramento) – Due to progress made on flattening the growth curve of COVID-19 hospitalizations in California, Governor Gavin Newsom yesterday announced plans to allow some (but not all) non-essential businesses in “Stage 2” of his reopening plan to resume business starting Friday, May 8.
The Governor also announced a plan to allow some counties to move quickly through Stage 2 by submitting a readiness plan that meets the state’s criteria for reopening more businesses and public spaces soon. Counties can also opt to retain more restrictive measures.
The directive will allow reopening of businesses such as bookstores, florists, clothing shops and sporting goods stores for curbside sales, but no customers will be allowed yet in stores. Some manufacturing and logistics businesses can also reopen if they follow new guidelines to be issued this Thursday.
The directive will not yet allow reopening of shopping malls, offices, schools or dine-in restaurants, which are expected to be reopened in a later phase of Stage 2.
The Governor released a Report Card showing how the state has made progress in fighting COVID-19 in a number of categories such as stabilized hospitalization and ICU numbers and acquiring personal protective equipment (PPE).
“Millions of Californians answered the call to stay home and thanks to them, we are in a position to begin moving into our next stage of modifying our stay at home order,” said Governor Newsom. “But make no mistake – this virus isn’t gone. It’s still dangerous and poses a significant public health risk. As we move into the next stage of reopening, we will do so with updated guidance to help qualifying businesses make modifications needed to lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure to customers and workers. Californians should prepare now for that second stage of reopening.”
State Report Card
The Governor also issued a state “Report Card” for how the state is doing in meeting key measures for moving into Stage 2. California is on track on the following statewide metrics:
- Stability of Hospitalizations
- Personal Protective Equipment Inventory
- Health Care Surge Capacity
- Testing Capacity
- Contact Tracing Capability
- Public Health Guidance in Place
California Department of Public Health Director and state Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell presented on the state’s Report Card to underscore the data driving the move into the next stage.
Local control options
The State Public Health Officer will establish criteria to determine whether and how, in light of local conditions, local health officers may implement public health measures less restrictive than the statewide public health directives.
Counties must meet criteria including demonstrating they have a low prevalence of COVID-19, that they meet testing and contact tracing criteria, that their health care system is prepared in case they see a sudden rise in cases, and that they have plans in place to protect vulnerable populations. The state will outline these criteria in the coming days. The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.
Contact tracing enables the state to suppress the spread of the virus to avoid outbreaks and allows us to maintain our health care capacity and confidently modify the stay at home order.
To work toward these goals, the Governor announced a partnership with the University of California, San Francisco and UCLA to immediately begin training workers for a landmark contact tracing program to help contain the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic while the state looks to modify the stay at home order.
The partnership will include a virtual training academy for contact tracers. The first 20-hour training will begin Wednesday, May 6 with the goal of training 20,000 individuals in two months.