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California Begins to Make Changes to Stay at Home Order

Today, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced the first modification to the state’s stay at home order. Effective immediately, and in coordination with the states of Washington and Oregon, essential scheduled surgeries can now go ahead.

Some examples of scheduled surgeries are procedures on tumors, heart surgeries, cancer-related operations, etc. — procedures that aren’t necessarily emergencies, but if not attended to, can cause major problems.

This announcement is related state’s indicators that Newsom revealed last week which laid what the state wants to see before they start to modify the state-wide stay at home order.

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Those indicators are:

  1. Being able to monitor COVID-19 and protect the community. This includes testing, tracing, isolating, and also support for those who become sick.
  2. Being able to prevent infection who are at risk for severe COVID-19, including seniors and immunocompromised.
  3. Making sure hospitals and the health care system can handle surge and have enough Personal Protective Equipment, ventilators, etc.
  4. They want to develop therapeutics to take care of people if they get sick, since there is no vaccine.
  5. Ensuring that businesses, schools, and childcare centers can support physical distancing.
  6. They also emphasized that they want to be able to reinstitute stay at home orders and other measures if needed.

Today’s announcement about scheduled surgeries aligns with the third indicator. The Governor said that, currently, the healthcare system is in a fair position to support these surgeries while continuing to support COVID-19 patients.

Newsom was careful to emphasize that these efforts to modify the stay at home order should be seen as a dimmer, not a switch. He clarified that they can both ease the restrictions and make them stricter if needed.

The state also gave a more detailed look into their efforts into the first indicator, which is foundational, when it comes to testing, tracing, isolating and quarantining. Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly and the Governor said they are able to currently do 16,000 tests a day, but they want to be able to do 80,000 tests a day.

Testing and tracing go hand in hand since they want to be able to trace COVID-19 positive patients’ close contacts and test them. However, simultaneously, they need to test healthcare workers and other essential workers on a regular basis.

Dr. Gahly added that when someone tests positive and must be quarantined, the support system must be in place to help that patient. He shared that a testing workforce is on the ground working out these details and other testing-related elements like data management.

The state also reminded the public that getting access to testing elements has been a constant effort. For example, obtaining swabs has been an issue. Notably, California will be getting a shipment of swabs from the Federal level.

They also touched on testing equity in socioeconomic disadvantaged, rural, and black and brown communities. In line with this, Newsom announced that they are establishing 86 new test sites in these “testing deserts.”

The goal is to have weekly updates regarding the efforts towards the six indicators, according to Newsom.

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