Governor Newsom

Governor Newsom during a press conference on May 4, 2020.

Gov. Gavin Newsom expressed cautious optimism as he announced that some retail businesses across the state will be entitled to reopen with modifications beginning on Friday, May 8 as the state moves to ease restrictions put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Examples of retail stores that will be allowed to reopen are book stores, toys, clothing, florists and sporting goods. All will be allowed to resume business with modifications to how those businesses serve their customers, such as curbside pickup, to adhere to social distancing measures.

“We are able to make these announcements and begin to have a more public conversation with you about opening up with adaptation and with modification, meaningful changes to our stay-at-home order, again, because people have taken seriously, overwhelmingly the stay-at-home orders and physical distancing,” Newsom said on Monday. “But I want to caution everybody if we pull back too quickly and we walk away from our incredible commitment to not only bend this curve but to stop the spread and suppress the spread of this virus, it could start a second wave that could be even more damaging than the first and undo all of the good work and progress that you’ve made.”

Newsom revealed that more details on guidelines will be released on Thursday, outlining the standards that must be met before select business industries are allowed to open to the public.

The decision comes at a time that the state has received more personal protective equipment (PPE) and has administered an increased amount of testing and tracing programs.

Newsom shared that the state received 3.1 million masks last Saturday night. Some 2.87 million of those masks have been distributed to regional sites throughout the state. Newsom shared that more shipments are scheduled to be on their way in the future to further increase the state’s hospital readiness to handle a potential surge. The governor shared that there was still plenty of work to do in regards to acquiring more personal protective equipment.

“We want to broaden that beyond just the healthcare space, provide those masks and protective gear for people that are doing testing and make sure they’re adequately supplied. Make sure people that are on the front lines, grocery workers are adequately supplied,” Newson said.

Newsom shared that the state has conducted over 575,000 tests. California is averaging over 20,000 tests a day, stating that California is well on it’s way to meeting the 25,000 tests per day goal. He stated that the goal moving forward is to keep increasing testing. The state wants to raise the total to 60,000 to 80,000 tests per day soon.

It was revealed that OptumServe has been deployed at 80 different locations to administer tests primarily focused in rural areas of the state.

A total of 23 counties have actively used their tracing programs to help monitor COVID-19 spread in their communities. Each county in the state has a tracing program in place to monitor the spread of the coronavirus. Those programs will need to be ready and active for each county to progress through each phase of the reopening plan.

The order will go into effect across the state, but Newsom specified that each county will have a say in how quickly or slowly they decide to open back up for business. Some counties are looking to extend their stay-at-home restrictions, while other counties are prepared to move forward at a quicker pace.

Newsom announced that counties that are prepared to move forward at a quicker pace into phase two of the guidelines can do so if certain conditions are met proving the county’s data and established public health infrastructure meets the criteria necessary to advance.

The state will work with counties to monitor what plan is best for their needs moving forward. Each county will have to create and submit a readiness plan.

“So counties are going to create and submit these readiness plans and then those will be made publicly available online for all of us to review and see and understand how those counties that are maybe moving in a different rate through stage two, how they are planning to make sure that the risk is minimized for all of their residents,” California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell said on Monday.

The plan to move forward into phase two will be certified by local and state public health officials. The decision for each county to move forward or put on the brakes must be data-driven with public health as the top priority.

PI reporter

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