LIVE NOW: Governor @GavinNewsom lays out parameters and tools needed before the state modifies California’s statewide stay-at-home orders and other broad #COVID19 interventions. https://t.co/r0WJnqcXVP
— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) April 14, 2020
Tuesday afternoon Governor Gavin Newsom laid out what a gradual plan to ease the state-wide stay-at-home order would look like.
In his daily COVID-19 briefing, Newsom said that a framework for relaxing Corona-related health orders had been established by him and other west-coast governors after an alliance by Oregon, Washington and California had been announced Monday night. The pact formed by these bodies would be a unified economic and social effort in an effort to pick up the slack from the federal government and President Trump.
Newsom said decisions on modifying the health order will be dictated by these 6 pillars:
- Preventing infection
- Increasing surge capacity and readiness
- Developing therapeutics
- Ensuring facilities can support physical distancing
- Determining when it’s appropriate to enact similar health orders
Sonia Angell, MD, MPH is the Director of the California Department of Public Health and her presentation shed light on these pillars.
The state is looking to testing, contact tracing, and the ability for monitoring the virus as a way of not only helping those who have tested positive, but also as measures of preventative care. This has the state asking, “Do we have the ability to test on large scale?” and if so, how can it be implemented.
There is also the focus on preventative care for those who are medically vulnerable such as the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those in congregate living situations. The state has already enacted some orders to alleviate those who do not have the luxury of physical distancing. However, it is looking forward on how to expand these efforts and help those most vulnerable in our communities.
Increasing surge capacity and readiness
Though California in recent weeks has shown it’s power and influence by acquiring large amounts of PPE, enough even to be donated to other states, it still has to ask itself whether or not it is ready for a New York-level outbreak. Do we have adequate medical supplies and staff? Is the healthcare system able to handle the stress this pandemic brings? Can canceling elective surgeries and postposing other nonessential treatments alleviate the system? These are all questions that will need to be answered before Newsom and his officials consider easing the current stay-at-home order.
Californians, as many others do, understand that social distancing cannot be a permanent and singular solution for the novel Coronavirus. Therefore, we must continue to develop therapeutics and other treatments to mitigate the situation. Dr. Angell said that the state is working with private, public, and academic institutions to continue the development of these medicines and are working to analyzing their effectiveness. Therapeutics can be effective at alleviating patients of COVID-19 symptoms and allow them to unburden the healthcare system.
Ensuring facilities can support physical distancing
A big step back to “normalcy” will be reopening businesses, schools, and child care facilities. That means working with businesses to engineer and modify physical environments to create opportunities to physical distance. Restaurants will likely have less tables, school schedules could be staggered, large gathers might be less common. This also means allocating the resources needed to protect non-medical essential workers.
Determining when it’s appropriate to enact similar health orders
Data and technology will be huge in determining the potential of future health orders. Are we tracking the right data? Can we quickly communicate new measures? Apple and Google have announced their efforts to help develop digital contract tracing tech. Newsom also announced his “Check-In” app that will be part of this effort to reduce the spread of the pandemic and to inform future decisions about how to handle a potential resurgence of cases.
So when do things go back to normal? Well, Newsom said that if we can answer all the questions posed above and if we see a continued decline in cases over the next two weeks he might have an answer for us then.
However, things can never truly go back to normal. Large gathers such and sporting events, concerts, and mass holiday celebrations are “negligible” according to the governor until we can develop heard immunity and find a vaccine.
“Like Dr Angell said, there’s no light switch here, I would argue it’s more like a dimmer. This toggling back and forth between more restrictive and less restrictive measures,” Newsom said.
President Trump has not yet announced a nation-wide plan. He is however pushing hastily to reopen a crumbling American economy in a rebuke to warnings from scientists who urge that a hasty retreat to pre-COVID life will end in elongating and exacerbating the crisis at hand. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday morning that if Trump tried to force his state to reopen that he would outright refuse and called on Trump to stop playing politics. This exact attitude is the impetus for Newsom and his colleges to enact these plans on their own.