Temperatures taken before walking into establishments. Face masks a common practice. Waiters wearing gloves and offering disposable menus to customers.
These are possible scenarios for California’s near future as it looks to ease restrictions and reopen the economy — but before that can happen, Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the state needs to increase testing and expand hospital capacity.
On Tuesday, he briefly shared six key steps the state must meet in order to incrementally return to normalcy, an announcement that followed Monday’s statement on a Western-states pact with Oregon and Washington to strategically reduce measures on residents.
“Normal it will not be at least until we have herd immunity and we have a vaccine,” he said during a live, state briefing, reminding listeners that current restrictions “will not be a permanent state. We recognize the consequences of the stay-at-home orders have a profound impact on the economy, your personal household budget, your personal prospects around your future.”
In its six indicators for modifying the statewide order, which Newsom imposed on March 19, California must have the ability:
- To monitor and protect communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
- To prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
- To implement the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
- To develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
- For businesses, schools and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and,
- To determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.
When those measures will be lifted is unknown. Newsom did not provide a timeline, but said he would provide an answer in the next two weeks “if we see a continued decline, not just flattening, but a decline in hospitalizations and ICUs, and we see the workforce and the infrastructure and PPE needs met.
“I know you want the timeline. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves,” Newsom said. “Let’s not make a mistake, pulling the plug too early, as much as we all want to.”
Localism will play a significant role in helping California flatten the curve to ultimately ease restrictions.
In Santa Clarita, the city has announced its share of orders as guided by the county’s Department of Public Health, ranging from the directive to wear face masks when out running essential errands, to closing park amenities and establishing a rent moratorium.
COVID-19-related testing has also increased for those in need with the opening of a drive-thru site at College of the Canyons, in addition to testing at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital.
Local residents are doing their part, which is vital in reaching normalcy sooner, said Mayor Cameron Smyth via phone Tuesday.
“You can see there are fewer cars on the road (and) the overwhelming majority of people are wearing masks and gloves,” he said. “(The community) is going to continue to follow these guidelines so that we can continue to flatten the curve and bring these numbers down so that small businesses can open, friends can reconnect and families can get back out in the community.”
On a larger scale, with about 10 million residents, Los Angeles County has also taken measures to help keep the curve down, such as extending the countywide stay-at-home directive through May 15 and opening additional testing sites.
“To rebuild our communities, to revitalize our economy, and to return to normalcy, it’s going to require the dedicated partnership of all levels of government with the private sector and every one of our residents,” county Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th District covers the Santa Clarita Valley, said in a statement Tuesday. “I’m grateful for leadership at the state and federal levels to plan for the next steps.”