In a press conference this afternoon California Governor Gavin Newsom spoke about the status of the COVID-19 “Shelter-in-Place” order, announcing a list of preliminary criteria that would need to be met in order to loosen the mandatory lockdown measures. While Newsom did not unveil a hard date to lift the restrictions and re-open California, he did emphasize that social distancing is yielding positive results, and if things continue to move in the right direction, the state could look at slowly rolling back limitations, little by little.
“In two weeks, if we see continuing decline not just in hospitalizations but ICUs, and PPE needs… ask me then,” Newsom said, in regards to an exact timeline. “We’ll be in a very different place. I know you want a timeline. But we can’t get ahead of ourselves. Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early. We don’t want to make political decisions that puts lives at risk.”
Newsom framed the strategy as a dynamic transition from “surge to suppression” and a “bridge toward herd immunity and ultimately a vaccine.” According to Governor Newsom, the six indicators the state will be looking at before modifying the stay-at-home order are the following :
- The ability to monitor and protect 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.
“While Californians have stepped up in a big way to flatten the curve and buy us time to prepare to fight the virus, at some point in the future we will need to modify our stay-at-home order,” Newson said. “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 best news to come from Newsom’s press conference today is that the restrictions put in place seem to be having a tangible and positive effect and that internally the conversation on the state level is shifting from panic and fear, to how and when things could be reopened. It’s the first glimmer of good news we’ve heard out of California in nearly a month.
What does that mean for surfers? Hard to say with certainty right now, and we likely won’t know anything concrete for at least another few weeks. When the Governor first issued the “Shelter-in-Place” order, each city reacted differently, closing beaches at different times. That said, we imagine that when Newsom eventually gives the green light to slowly re-open the state, it’ll once again fall to each city to decide when (and how) they’ll roll back their beach and ocean closures. To hear Newsom tell it today, the re-opening of California will happen in waves, and definitely not all at once. And with the Governor taking a cautious approach, it’s unlikely mass gatherings (think Coachella) will happen at all in 2020.
That’s not to say we’re out of the woods just yet on the west coast. Far from it. Los Angles reported its highest single-day COVID-19 death toll today, and many, many people are still suffering and fighting for their lives in the state, as they are all over the world. While getting back in the ocean is far from the biggest priority right now, at least in California there seems to be a glimmer of light at the end of the lockdown tunnel. We’ll update you as soon as further information becomes available.