California’s Coronavirus Strategy
The state is flattening the curve. What comes next?
Ever since reports emerged last week that California has successfully bent the curve, people have anxiously awaited the news that might follow: When the state will start to let up on social distancing. In a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, Governor Gavin Newsom announced that California is starting to enter what he dubbed phase four of the pandemic, “the optimistic phase,” moving from surge to suppression.
“This transition, where we do see light at the end of the tunnel, where there is a ray of optimism and hopefulness that this too shall pass, is also perhaps the most difficult and challenging phase of all,” Newsom said during a press conference. “And that’s saying a lot because the last few weeks and months have been very challenging for all of us. But this phase is one where science, where public health — not politics — must be the guide.”
Newsom laid out a six-item framework that will guide how and when California will modify stay-at-home orders going forward. It includes questions about testing and hospital capacities that he says must be answered before the state moves from a population approach to an individual approach of virus suppression.
1) Expand testing to trace and track individual outbreaks and ensure the isolation and quarantine of those affected.
2) Protect vulnerable populations from infection and spread, most notably seniors, people who are immunocompromised, and unhoused individuals.
3) The ability of hospital and healthcare systems to meet the need of anticipated surges as stay at home orders are loosened.
4) Work with academia and the pharmaceutical industry as they develop treatments and a vaccine for the virus, as well as protocols to distribute them.
5) Develop strategies for schools and businesses to adhere to safe physical distancing guidelines.
6) A plan to toggle back and forth between stricter and looser social distancing requirements depending on how the situation changes.
Newsom applauded Californians for bending the curve with their behavior, but he also cautioned that the state is not out of the woods yet. There were a record 71 Covid-19-related deaths in California today.