SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom on Tuesday afternoon tried to offer some encouragement to small business owners ahead of the state’s planned Phase 2 coronavirus reopening later this week, while still emphasizing the importance of staying safe and not triggering a second wave of COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Newsom delivered his daily update on the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic from outside the currently-shuttered Display: California gift shop in Sacramento, exactly the kind of small business that his update focused on. The governor outlined the challenges small businesses will be facing with the planned reopening of some retail shops on Friday and the supply chains that serve those businesses.
“We’re not just talking about one small business,” said Newsom. “It’s the business’s impact on that entire supply chain, and on the creativity and the ingenuity and the innovative spirit that defines the best of California.”
Newsom said that it was the same determination that drove small-business owners to establish their shops and companies that would help them overcome the obstacles presented by the pandemic, as long as the state moves forward with the reopening of stores safely and sensibly.
“To see your [entrepreneurial] dream come to fruition and then potentially be at risk because of this pandemic is devastating. And so it’s a way of expressing not just empathy, but a deep admiration and appreciation for these entrepreneurs that put everything on the line,” said Newsom. “And truly, everything is on the line as we move into this next phase to make sure we do it right and to make sure we don’t jump ahead of ourselves and have a second wave that then forces us to toggle back and now put back into place the restrictions that we’re now in a position to finally loosen up.”
Newsom also talked about the personal protective gear requirements that will need to be in place for the reopening of retail stores and the warehouses that serve as the backbone of the retail supply chain as part of Phase 2 later this week.
“The PPE side of this is so foundational to our ability to open up, to make sure people have the appropriate face coverings,” Newsom said. “That they have the support they need to keep these facilities, to keep these retail establishments sanitized and to make sure customers again and employees are safe.”
Newsom noted that where the earlier focus had been to distribute masks and other protective gear to front-line workers at hospitals and grocery stores, that distribution would widen in order to help businesses that would be working to reopen.
“We are very pleased in this state to have had substantial success in the last week in the procurement of tens of millions of new masks that are now coming in almost on a weekly basis,” Newsom said. “Let me be specific. We’ve been able to distribute 14.2 million procedure masks, these surgical masks, since the beginning of the pandemic. We currently have an inventory of 19.3 million masks that have come in over the course of the last couple of days. We’ll get those masks out as soon as we possibly can, but I can assure in all of these months, we never have had so many procedure masks, surgical masks, in our possession [that we’re] now able to be distributed all across the state of California.”
Newsom also said the first group of tracers to be trained would begin online courses through the “virtual academy” run by UCSF and UCLA to substantially expand the state’s current capacity.
Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg joined Newsom on Tuesday, thanking the governor for his leadership while also encouraging the city’s residents to continue following social distancing protocols and the current shelter-in-place order.
The governor also provided updated case numbers on Tuesday. He said California has 56,212 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,275 new positive cases confirmed in the last 24 hours. Of those cases, 3,369 are in hospitals — an increase of 2.6 percent — while 1,157 were ICUs, a decline of 1.9 percent.
Newsom touted the gains in testing, saying that nearly 100,000 people had been tested in just the past 72 hours with the state testing almost 780,000 people in total to date.
As he often has during his daily briefings on the state’s response, Newsom emphasized the enormous changes that California residents need to accept as things move forward during the pandemic.
“I cannot impress upon people more that we’re not going back to normal; it’s back to a new normal, with adaptations and modifications until we get to immunity, until we get to a vaccine. We’ll get there,” said Newsom, who reiterated his often repeated instruction to Californians not to let up on social distancing.
“This virus, again, still is ubiquitous in our society, and no greater mistake we can make is forgetting that,” he said. “Remember, you may be asymptomatic, no symptoms, and still be able to spread this virus. You may be young, and healthy and you run up and give grandma a big hug. And five or six days later, grandma is in the ICU.”