Last updated 5/7/2020 at 10:53am
Despite the urgency of many to go back to a somewhat “normal” everyday routine, Governor Gavin Newsom has not announced any directive of when California will reopen.
Newsom said he does understand everyone’s eagerness to reopen, but assured the decision will be solely based on science, data, and the spread of the virus.
“I wish I could prescribe a specific date to say we could turn on the light switch and go back to normalcy. We’ve tried to make it crystal clear there is no light switch and there is no date.”
He added it was “unrealistic” to think life as we knew it before the pandemic would be back to what we hope it would be, and with the protests happening, it only stretches the orders much longer, urging them to think of their loved ones and others amid their fatigue with the precautions. And with the number of cases continuing to rise, it is very unlikely it will be happening any time soon.
Los Angeles County extended their stay-at-home orders until May 15, and other counties have not yet announced if they will be doing the same, as of print time April 27.
Newsom’s remarks have been highly anticipated, as many states and cities have begun to announce broad rollbacks of social distancing restrictions. He made it clear that California is not on that path just yet.
On March 19, Newsom issued a statewide “stay-at-home: order to protect the health and well-being of all Californians to establish consistency across the state in order to slow the spread.
As a result, this meant the closure of non-essential businesses. He initially set statewide guidance to keep crowds under 250 before restricting all unnecessary gatherings and ordered new restrictions on restaurants before it was pushed to delivery or pick up only. The order would last for at least eight weeks, but said that he could not give a concrete end date. It was set to expire at the end of March, but was extended through April 30 by President Donald Trump, along with multiple restrictions across the state.
Newsom announced instead a modest step toward normalcy: starting to schedule essential surgeries once again. The change is being done in coordination with Washington and Oregon, and is effective immediately.
His remarks were focused on the need to dramatically expanding testing before a statewide reopening. He said back in March that there would be at least 2,000 tests done per day, and that number has increased to 16,000, but that number needs to increase by at least three times daily. He wants the tests to reach that marker before opening the state back up.
Newsome announced six points in order to make a decision on when it will be safe, and clarified that he would evaluate the state’s progress on these points:
- Expand testing and doing contact tracing for those who test positive
- Being able to protect the state’s most vulnerable populations, including seniors, homeless individuals and those with compromised immunity
- Ensuring medical facilities are equipped to handle potential surges
- Working with research hospitals and other research partners to pursue therapies for the virus
- Making sure businesses, schools, and other public spaces can continue distancing
- Being able to return to more strict measures, as needed.
There will be an expansion of test sites around the state, especially those in rural areas and predominately minority communities. In the coming weeks, over 80 sites will be open in those areas. Newsom added that Trump has agreed to provide the increased testing, unclear of exactly where, but said during his phone call with the President, believes it will help the state significantly.
On April 23, he announced an executive order protecting coronavirus relief money (stimulus checks) from debt collectors. However, this does not apply to child care of spousal support. He added that many banks and companies have agreed to pause student loans; there will be no late fees or fines, and are effective immediately.
In addition to these orders, he announced that undocumented immigrants, who comprise about a tenth of California’s workforce, will be able to draw on a $125 million public-private fund. However, nothing is official as of yet.
However, Newsom is under fire with this announcement, as he is being sued to block the allocation of funds that will provide financial help during this pandemic to immigrants in the country illegally who don’t qualify for unemployment insurance.
The non-profit Center for American Liberty filed an emergency petition with the California Supreme Court requesting a stay on the action. They argued providing these funds “represents an improper gift of taxpayer funds.”
We are all waiting for Newsom to finally announce a modified plan and easing the current orders so we can go out and enjoy what we are used to, but it looks like that won’t be happening any time soon until the numbers begin to decrease.
There is no set timetable, but what we can do is take care of ourselves and each other. Remember, we’re all in this together.