‘We are weeks, not months, away’

Gov. Newsom cautions Californians to continue distancing to avoid prolonged closure

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

‘We are weeks, not months, away’Gov. Gavin Newsom held another press conference this week — not for the anticipated update on relaxing social distancing restrictions, but chastising beachgoers photographed on Golden State beaches this weekend.

He began by thanking the 40 million Californians who, through their precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks have “not just bent the curve, but stabilized it.”

However, he said, “That’s why I want to address the topic that is top of mind — and that is the images we saw this weekend.”

He said photos captured from Orange and Ventura county beaches are “an example of what not to see. Newsom said that a reckless return to pre-coronavirus norms jeopardizes the progress our state has made in maintaining relatively low infection rates. While California nears the top of the list of states in the U.S., in terms of the number of COVID-19 cases, we remain low in reported cases per million — coming in at less than 10 percent of those reported in New York and other highly impacted states.

“The reality is, we are just weeks, not months, away from making measurable and meaningful changes to our stay at home order.”

Newsom addressed Californians on April 14, announcing that his team is building a framework that will allow expansion of testing, a more reliable ability to track and trace infection and more effective quarantine protocols for individuals exposed to COVID-19.

He said that before businesses could re-open, the state needed to bolster protections for the most vulnerable and an increased capacity of hospitals and alternative-care clinics to meet a potential surge in demand.

Rather than a comprehensive end to mitigation efforts, he told Californians to anticipate a modular approach that would allow the state to toggle back and forth from restrictions as data relating to outbreaks dictates.

He said that until a vaccine, and herd immunity, is developed, “We will have to manage risks.”

This approach is based on data and driven by behavior, he said. If behavior changes, so does the impact.

“The only thing that will set us back is our behavior. That’s the only thing that will slow down our ability to reopen this economy.”

Newsom also said that he would be looking at drilling down by region and by sector to determine the unique needs of reopening. (See related story on Town Hall meeting, this page, for more detailed information about his four-stage plan).

On Thursday, memos from state law enforcement officials noted that state parks and beaches would be closed, effective immediately. Public safety agencies have been directed to plan how they would enforce the directive.

Pictured: Gov. Newsom calls out some counties for allowing beachgoers over the weekend. — File photo by Rebecca Neipp

Story First Published: 2020-05-01