California, Oregon outline plans for reopening state economies

Two Western governors on Tuesday laid out respective plans for opening nonessential businesses and restarting public life in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

The announcements from California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) come a day after those states, along with Washington, announced a joint plan to explore how to lift coronavirus restrictions.

In California, Newsom said the state’s decision to modify its stay-at-home order and reopen the economy will be based on six factors, including the ability to widely test and trace people who have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The governor said during a press conference that he was optimistic the state would be able to marshal the resources needed to ramp up public health infrastructure but cautioned that it will take time.

Newsom said “science and public health, not politics, must be the guide” and that the decision must not be ideological.

“Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early,” Newsom said. “I don’t want to make a political decision that puts people’s lives at risk and puts the economy at more risk by extending the period of time before we can ultimately transition and get people moving again.”

He noted that 71 Californians who had tested positive for COVID-19 died on Monday, the highest death toll in a single day.

California’s “roadmap to recovery” includes the ability to care for the elderly and the populations of people who are most at risk for severe complications from the virus, supporting hospitals so they can handle a potential surge in patients, identifying a vaccine or potential treatment and providing new guidelines for schools and businesses so they can keep physical distancing measures even as they reopen.

In Oregon, Brown offered a similar framework for slowing the growth of new COVID-19 cases based on a robust public health infrastructure and adequate personal protective equipment for health care workers and first responders.

She said decisions on how to reopen the state’s economy will be made through collaboration and by consulting with public health experts, health care professionals and representatives of the affected industries.

“It’s not going to be easy and it will take longer than we want,” Brown said during a press conference. “For now, this is what we have and this is what we can do.”

Newsom said the next two weeks will be critical for California. He warned that even when the state is able to modify the stay-at-home order, everyday life will be different.

“Normal it will not be, until we have herd immunity and a vaccine,” Newsom said. 

He described situations where facemasks are worn in public and restaurants will be open, but the servers will be wearing gloves and masks and tables will be at least six feet apart.

He also put a damper on the possibility of sporting events, concerts and music festivals starting back up this summer.

“The prospect of mass gathering is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and we get to a vaccine. So large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers is not in the cards based on our guidelines and current expectations,” Newsom said.

Tags California Coronavirus Gavin Newsom Gavin Newsom Kate Brown Oregon
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