Announcements from local governments, including Santa Clara County, the State of California, and our neighboring states, say they are developing plans to hopefully ease shelter in place orders and looking into ways to reopen the economies.
Western States Pact
On Monday, the Governors of California, Oregon and Washington jointly announced the Western States Pact, which is an agreement on a shared vision for reopening the states’ economies and controlling COVID-19 into the future.
“We are announcing that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies — one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business,” said the Governors’ joint statement.
Each state will be responsible for a state-specific plan and, together, the states have agreed to follow a set of principles as they build out a West Coast framework. The principals are “our residents’ health comes first,” “health outcomes and science – not politics – will guide these decisions,” and “our states will only be effective by working together.”
“Through quick and decisive action, each of our states has made significant progress in flattening the curve and slowing the spread of COVID-19 among the broader public,” said the Governors. “Now, our public health leaders will focus on four goals that will be critical for controlling the virus in the future.”
The first goal is to protect vulnerable populations at risk for severe disease if infected. Second, is to ensure an ability to care for those who may become sick with COVID-19 and other conditions. The third goal is to mitigate the non-direct COVID-19 health impacts, particularly on disadvantaged communities. And lastly, to protect the general public by ensuring any successful lifting of interventions includes the development of a system for testing, tracking and isolating. The states will work together to share best practices.
Santa Clara County Wishlist
Additionally, this morning, Dr. Sara Cody, County of Santa Clara Health Officer and Director of Public Health, gave a brief COVID-19 update that is comparable to what is being said by the Governors. Dr. Cody said that, though we are not by any means out of the woods, the county is looking into what would need to be put into place in order to consider easing the county’s shelter in place order.
First, Dr. Cody said that they need to ensure that the hospital capacity is adequate — this includes beds, staff, etc. Second, they need more widespread testing — private and public. Lastly, they need case investigation and contact investigation — something they were able to do in the first days of the outbreak but has since become out of hand with the significant daily upticks in cases.
Dr. Cody shared that they are feeling cautiously optimistic. The number of COVID-19 cases has become stable and deaths, though increasing, are doing so slowly.
Less than an hour after Dr. Cody signed off, Governor Gavin Newsom started his press conference on the topic of the state’s next step which is suppression. He says that until there is herd immunity and a vaccine (which could take a year), that they can at least start looking at modifying the stay at home order.
The Governor and Dr. Sonia Angell, Director of the California Department of Public Health, are focusing on six indicators that they want to have in place.
- Be able to monitor COVID-19. This includes testing, tracing, isolating, and also support for those who become sick.
- Be able to prevent infection who are at risk for severe COVID-19, including seniors and immunocompromised.
- Make sure hospitals can handle surge and have enough Personal Protective Equipment, ventilators, etc.
- They want to develop therapeutics to take care of people if they get sick, since there is no vaccine.
- Ensure that businesses, schools, and childcare centers can sustain physical distancing.
- They also emphasized that they want to be able to reinstitute stay at home orders and other measures if needed.
According to Newsom, the state will put recommendations and guidelines in place, but the local counties will work on plans that are specific to their situations.
Newsom was careful not to say exactly when stay at home orders may be relaxed. He said to ask him in a couple of weeks. Before he can even begin to answer that question, the Governor said they’ll be keeping an eye on if physical distancing and stay at home orders are working to bend the curve and if they can build the infrastructure needed to support the efforts they detailed.
However, he did get quite specific when talking about mass gatherings saying that they are unlikely until the public develops herd immunity or until there is a vaccine.
The goal is to be precise, targeted, and gradual with their approach to possibly getting back to some new form of normal with a COVID-19 lens. But Newsom says this suppression stage, though challenging, has an optimistic tone.
“We are finally seeing some rays of sunshine on the horizon,” said Newsom.