Slowing hospitalization rates and dramatically increased testing are the top factors California officials are assessing to determine when to loosen stay-at-home orders designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday.
The plan aims to transition the state from the current stay-at-home orders that have ground much of the state’s economy to a halt to a point when there is a vaccine or widespread immunity to the virus.
Newsom did not announce a specific timeline for reopening. Instead, he described what evidence state officials will need to see that danger from the virus has waned before they make changes to the orders.
“This cannot be a permanent state,” Newsom said. “These stay-at-home orders have a profound impact on the economy.”
Newsom says his team is looking at six areas to determine when and how to start reopening the state’s economy:
- Expanding testing
- Protecting high risk groups, including seniors, the medically vulnerable and people in facilities like nursing homes
- Ensuring hospitals have enough beds and supplies to care for patients
- Progress in developing treatments
- Ability of schools and businesses to support physical distancing
- Ability to decide when to reinstitute stay-at-home orders if needed
“The most important is our ability to expand our testing,” Newsom said.
The state must be able to test people who show symptoms and identify those in contact with people who test positive to determine how far the virus has spread, according to a presentation provided by Newsom’s office.
For now, testing in California is still limited because of supply shortages. Newsom has established a task force to dramatically ramp up testing. California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said the state’s testing capacity is not where it needs to be, and that the state should be doing tens of thousands of tests per day.
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