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Newsom, Angell Discuss 6 Keys to Relaxing California’s Safer at Home Order

April 14, 2020 by Juliet Bennett Rylah
California Dept. of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell during today’s press conference

In this afternoon’s news briefing, California Governor Gavin Newsom and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell talked about the six things we need to accomplish before the state can modify the Stay at Home order and, as Newsom put it, “get back to that sense of normalcy that I know everyone…so desperately looks forward to.”

Thanks to our social distancing behaviors, officials say we have successfully bent the curve, thus ensuring our healthcare systems haven’t become overwhelmed. But if we were to go back to normal now, we risk a chance of a deadly surge. Here in L.A., models predict that going back to normal right now could result in 95.6% of Angelenos becoming infected by August 1.

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When we do reopen, Newsom said it will be “more like a dimmer” than a light switch and will likely come in waves of loosening and restricting social distancing behavior until immunity is established. Things might also look a little different. Examples include restaurants that have tables spaced further apart, staffed by servers who wear face masks and gloves and offer patrons disposable menus. This may mean more telecommuting and at-home learning. This may also create new job opportunities, as systems to implement our new normal develop.

But before we do anything, the state needs to meet these six goals:

  1. The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolation, and supporting those who are positive or who’ve been exposed.
  2. The ability to prevent infection in at-risk individuals. Can we identify outbreaks in nursing homes, prisons, and facilities for those with disabilities? And are we also able to care for older Californians and the medically vulnerable who are living in their own homes? 
  3. The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges. Do we have the bed capacity, staff, PPE, and ventilators we’ll need? 
  4. The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand. 
  5. The ability for businesses, schools, and other facilities to support physical distancing. Do they have the guidelines and equipment they need? 
  6. The ability to determine when to bring back Stay at Home measures. Can we track the right data to know when to do so, and can we communicate these orders effectively? 

Newsom said there are teams working to answer each of these six items.

The big question on everyone’s mind is, of course, when can we start to relax Stay at Home orders? Newsom said it depends on two things: if we can “hold the line on our Stay at Home Orders…so we can continue to see this curve bend” and “commensurate with that, that we build this infrastructure that is required, that we laid out in these six key categories.” If we can do those things over the next two weeks, Newsom says to ask him again “and we will be in a very different place where we can be more prescriptive in giving people timelines.”

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