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California Governor Outlines How The State Will Decide To Open Again

California Gov. Gavin Newsom, shown here earlier this month, has explained how the state will decide to lift restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Rich Pedroncelli
California Gov. Gavin Newsom, shown here earlier this month, has explained how the state will decide to lift restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom outlined Tuesday how the state will eventually decide to start lifting restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The governor did not indicate when these decisions might happen, only saying that "when it comes to re-opening, SCIENCE – not politics – must be California's guide."

In the past day, tensions have ratcheted up between President Trump and several governors over who will ultimately decide to reopen state economies. The president declared Monday that his "authority is total" about such decisions, but he changed his tone on Tuesday, saying that he would make them in conjunction with governors.

These are the six indicators that Newsom says will guide California's decision-making:

  • "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."
  • Newsom said the changes won't happen all at once. "There's no light switch here. It's more like a dimmer," he told reporters. "That dimmer is this toggling back and forth between more restrictive and less restrictive measures. More individual accountability, more individual responsibility as it relates to face coverings, as it relates to practicing physical distancing. More individual responsibility if you've been exposed to the virus that we isolate you."

    And the governor acknowledged the state will "look different" as restrictions lift. Restaurants won't have as many tables, for example. "You may be having dinner with a waiter wearing gloves, maybe a face mask. Dinner where the menu is disposable ... where your temperature is checked before you walk in the establishment."

    Newsom announced on Monday that his state is working in partnership with Oregon and Washington to decide how to lift restrictions.

    California, the most populous state in the U.S., has seen more than 22,300 confirmed cases and nearly 700 fatalities linked to the virus. Newsom said the state has made progress toward flattening the curve of new cases emerging.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.

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