Newsom: Expect ‘new normal’ as California develops strategies to reopen

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Gov. Newsom: Expect 'new normal' as California develops strategies to reopen
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (file photo from the California Office of the Governor).

California residents can expect “a new normal” as the state begins to examine strategies on easing COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, Gov. Newsom said Tuesday. Restaurants could be required to have fewer tables. Its waiters may have to wear gloves and masks and hand out disposable menus. Its customers may need to undergo temperature checks before entering. Classrooms might be need to be reconfigured. There could be more teleworking, more distance learning.

These are among strategies under consideration as California flattens the curve on coronavirus cases and begins to ponder modifications to stay-at-home orders, Gov. Newsom said during a press conference Tuesday.

“Normal it will not be,” the governor said. “At least until we have herd immunity, and we have a vaccine.”

The governor offered no precise timeline on easing of public health restrictions but announced six key indicators that will guide the state’s decisions in the coming weeks and months. They are:

  • The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed;
  • The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19;
  • The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges;
  • The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand;
  • The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing; and
  • The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.

“As we contemplate reopening parts of our state, we must be guided by science and data, and we must understand that things will look different than before,” the governor said.

Gov. Newsom called the next phase in the battle against the virus an optimistic one but likely the most challenging.

In January, California responded to the growing COVID-19 pandemic by repatriating flights from mainland China. It later moved to mitigation efforts through stay-at-home orders, then prepped its medical system for a potential surge in cases. Now it’s moving to a “suppression” stage, with the ultimate goals of developing herd immunity and a vaccine.

On Monday, Gov. Newsom announced a pact with Oregon and Washington on developing a shared framework on reopening their economies that aims to prioritize health, science and data, and not political pressure.

For more information on California’s response, visit covid19.ca.gov.

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