Gov. Newsom lays out plan to loosen stay-at-home order

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Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday said he will revisit the statewide stay-at-home order in two weeks if the curve of COVID-19 cases in California is not only “flattening” but “declining.”

That does not mean the order will be completely lifted, Newsom said, but certain aspects could be loosened if the state has made enough headway in a six-pronged plan laid out at Tuesday’s press conference. The changes will also be tied to the state’s number of hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care, Newsom said.

California’s six indicators for modifying the stay-at-home order are:

  • The ability to monitor and protect communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating and supporting those who are positive or exposed
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19 cases
  • The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand
  • The ability for businesses, schools and child care facilities to support physical distancing
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary. 

California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell laid out two key questions for each indicator and said the new normal will look very different. Restaurants may reopen but it will be with fewer tables, temperature checks at the door and upped protection for employees. Face masks will also become commonplace until residents develop immunity or a vaccine is developed.

“This time period that we’re entering is not about going back to where we were before,” she said. “It’s about going forward in ways that are healthy for all of us. But it won’t look the same.”

Newsom first ordered California’s roughly 40 million residents to stay home on March 19 just days after six Bay Area counties issued a shelter-in-place order. 

Santa Clara County in late March extended its order through early May along with several counties throughout the Bay Area and Central Coast.

“It’s important to let folks know that we’re not in a permanent state as long as we don’t make the decision to pull back too soon,” Newsom said. “Give us a few weeks to really build this infrastructure and answer all those tough questions and then I can come out and be much more specific about when and how we see a blended approach to the stay-at-home order.” 

As of April 12, there are a total of 22,348 cases and 687 deaths in California. More than 3,000 have had to be hospitalized and 1,178 are in the ICU.

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