SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday offered updates on the state’s plans to track and trace contacts made by diagnosed cases of COVID-19 and said some low-risk businesses would be able to reopen as early as Friday.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
During his daily update on the state’s response to the coronavirus crisis, Newsom said the state would be putting out new guidelines on Thursday to outline the second phase of reopening California’s economy. It would commence for some lower-risk businesses in the retail sector that are able to accommodate modifications like curb-side pickup for customers.
“On Thursday the 7th, we will put out the guidelines,” Newsom explained. “If the guidelines are met and modifications are made, then people can start reopening with those modifications in these particular sectors as early as Friday.”
Newsom also said that some businesses in the logistics, retail supply chain and transportation sector would also be among those eligible to reopen.
Newsom said that the reopening of the businesses would require certification by local county health officials and noted that criteria for reopening would differ in different areas.
“For example the Bay Area — Northern California — they have more strict guidelines,” said Newsom. “If they may want to go even further. We want to afford them that right with conditions and modifications that meet the health needs of the entire state.”
“This is with modifications. That means we want to make sure both the workers and the customers are safe in these settings,” said California Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell. “Which means there will be modifications to ensure physical distancing and making sure that the unique circumstances of those workplaces will be addressed.”
Newsom noted some businesses that specifically would not be reopening on Friday, such as offices where telecommuting is an available option, as well as seated dining at restaurants and shopping malls.
The governor called it “an optimistic day,” but emphasized that with the beginning of Phase 2 reopening, officials would have to remain vigilant.
“This is a very positive sign, and it’s happened only for one reason: the data says it can happen. But we recognize as we begin to modify behavior is modified and possible community spread may occur,” said Newsom. “If that’s the case, and we don’t have the capacity to control that spread, to trace that spread, to track that spread, to isolate individuals that may have been in contact with COVID-19, we will have to make modifications anew.”
The governor also announced that UCSF and UCLA are providing a “virtual academy” to recruit and train what Newsom called “disease detectives” to augment those currently working to track and trace contacts of positive COVID-19 cases and substantially expand the state’s current capacity.
“We’ve been working for weeks now with UCSF and UCLA just to get this training academy right and to make sure the curriculum and their current protocols will meet the exact needs of the counties,” said Newsom. “We’ve been doing tracing in terms of disease for years and years; for decades. STD, issues of HIV and AIDS, going back TB, measles and other tracing capacity. We’ve been doing a lot of tracing since the beginning of this pandemic.”
Newsom said 23 counties are currently tracking and tracing COVID-19 patients, keeping records on exactly who each cases has come into contact with and determining who should be isolated and/or quarantined due to exposure to the virus to prevent.
“This tracing that’s happening includes a workforce of about 3,000 people today — 2,845 individuals to be exact — primarily conducted at the local level,” said Newsom. “What we are doing now is working them in partnership with UCSF, in partnership with UCLA, to have an online training academy to increase their workforce capacity from again roughly 3,000 people and to provide the capacity to train upwards to 3,000 people a week to go through two phases in terms of building a workforce. 10,000 being our first phase goal, 20,000 our second phase goal. So on the high end getting about 20,000 people into this workforce…building off the existing base of 3,000.”
The two universities’ virtual academies that will be funded by federal money earmarked for tracking and tracing programs, according to the Governor.
Over the weekend, people in Northern and Southern California ignored closures at public parks and beaches, defying stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of the coronavirus as pressure to reopen parts of California continues to build.
On Friday, Newsom acknowledged some of the ongoing protests over the continuing shelter-in-place order and said that he understands the frustration that those people are feeling over being unable to open their businesses. It was during Friday’s address that the Governor promised more easing of restrictions, with some changes likely to be announced as soon as next week.
“We are getting very, very close to making some announcements that I think will be very meaningful to people in the retail sector, in the hospitality sector — yes, that includes in that second phase, restaurants — again, with serious modifications,” said Newsom. “We’ve got teams of people working – not just internally, but externally — to look at each type of business, within each type of industry, and looking at sectoral and individual augmentations and guidelines that will be necessary and a requirement of any meaningful reopening.”