California closure continues, coronavirus tests increase

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Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced an expansion of coronavirus testing capacity throughout California, saying the results will be critical in deciding when to lighten the strict stay-at-home order and allow people to return at work.

Newsom’s announcement comes as more and more cities and counties have urged him to change the restrictions they say have put local economies on the brink of ruin. The governor has so far resisted, saying COVID-19 remains a serious and growing health threat and that the premature loosening of his order in the state could lead to a second wave of infections and deaths.

But Newsom said the prospect of lifting the restrictions becomes more feasible with general testing. The data will increase the ability of public health officials to closely monitor potential cases, one of the most essential requirements for California to move into the next phase of the pandemic while curbing the spread of the virus.

The governor announced several new efforts to boost testing in California, noting that President Trump made a pledge on Wednesday to provide California with scarce coronavirus tests . Newsom said 100,000 swabs are expected to arrive in California this week and 250,000 next week.

The governor said six new test sites would soon become operational, giving priority to “black and brown communities and focusing on rural communities”.

Newsom has announced that Abbott Laboratories will provide California with 1.5 million serological tests to detect antibodies. One of his top health advisers has warned that science is evolving and that serological tests cannot yet confirm immunity.

“We plan to use this data, first and foremost, to understand the prevalence of disease in the state,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of State for Health and Social Services. “We know that any specific movement forward with a change in the home order requires us to understand who may have been infected in the past.”

The new initiatives would significantly increase testing capacity for coronaviruses in California, which currently averages 14,500 tests per day in all public and private laboratories. The Newsom administration’s target is 25,000 tests a day by the end of April and up to 80,000 tests daily in the near future.

This week, California became the first state to recommend testing for asymptomatic people living or working in high-risk environments such as retirement homes and prisons, an important first step toward implementing comprehensive testing for identify and isolate all cases of coronavirus.

Last week’s Newsom administration uncovered six key indicators for changing the governor’s home order. In addition to the increase in tests, they include the acquisition of the ability to prevent infection of people at high risk; prepare hospitals to manage overvoltages; develop therapies to meet demand; ensuring that schools, businesses and daycare centers can foster social distancing; and develop guidelines for when to ask Californians to stay home if necessary. The governor declined to say when he could start changing his order and easing the restrictions.

“I deeply recognize, I deeply understand the desire that people hear directly from the administration, the state and its leaders, the answer to when, when can we return to a semblance of normalcy,” Newsom said in a statement. a COVID-19 briefing on Wednesday. “I wish I could set a specific date to say, well, we can turn on the light switch and go back to normal. We have tried to make it clear that there is no light switch. And there is no date as to our ability to provide the kind of clarity that I know many of you demand and deserve. “

Newsom has set a training target of 10,000 people, including some existing government officials, to help counties track COVID-19 patients and anyone who may have come into contact with them.

“The good news is that we think we have the capacity to build an army of tracers, starting with a target of 10,000,” said Newsom.

Newsom also announced that the California hospital system is in good enough shape for the state to begin lifting restrictions on other procedures in medical facilities.

“We are able today to begin to back off and bend over as we begin to plan surgical procedures, once again, not only in our hospital system but in our broader health care delivery system,” said said Newsom.

“I wish I could set a specific date to say, well, we can turn on the light switch and go back to normal. We have tried to make it clear that there is no light switch. And there is no date as to our ability to provide the kind of clarity that I know many of you demand and deserve. “

Gov. Gavin Newsom

But Newsom’s methodical approach comes as the governors of other states, including Colorado, Texas and Georgia, have already announced plans to ease restrictions on staying at home.

Colorado’s governor Jared Polis said on Monday that his state would move to a “safer home” phase at the end of the month, which will encourage people to stay at home and continue to distance themselves, and allow small businesses, including hair salons and barbers, to eventually reopen if they adhere to certain health guidelines.

Polis said he hoped bars and restaurants could reopen in mid-May, but that would depend on what would happen after the home stay directive was lifted.

Trump has openly encouraged protesters to challenge state home orders across the country and often expresses his eagerness to reopen the US economy that has fallen into recession due to the virus epidemic.

Yet after several southern states have taken steps this week to lift their home stay orders, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, has warned the Americans that the return to life was too fast as it was before the pandemic. “Would turn around” and lead to a resurgence of the virus.

In its daily briefings, Newsom also warned of the consequences of easing restrictions too quickly. Newsom said Californians have managed to slow the spread of the virus by following orders to stay at home and maintain social distance – but infections continue to increase.

On Wednesday, Newsom cited administrative statistics from the previous 24-hour period showing a 0.2% decrease in hospitalizations and a 1.8% decrease in patients treated in the intensive care unit.

“We flattened the curve, we created stability,” said Newsom. “Keep practicing the physical distance and we will be making more announcements sooner than we would otherwise. If we withdraw too early, these announcements will not be published. “

Newsom said that if restrictions were relaxed in a few counties or cities less affected by the pandemic, cases could quickly increase if infected people from other parts of the state passed through these areas. He said it is essential for the well-being of all Californians to have a state-wide health strategy to return to a sense of normalcy.

San Luis Obispo county officials have asked the governor to allow them to relax their stay at home rules because they are in a much better position than coronavirus hotspots such as Los Angeles and Santa counties Clara. In a letter to Newsom, local authorities said the infection rate in the county has been declining for three weeks and that hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have dropped dramatically. Earlier this week, the county reported 130 positive cases, including 111 fully recovered, three people in the hospital and one death.

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They promised to relax the restrictions in a measured way that ensures public health is not endangered, but Newsom has not been influenced so far.

Newsom seemed more deferential to local authorities at the start of the pandemic. This included allowing cities and counties to decide how to enforce the order to stay at home and whether residents should be required to wear face covers when leaving the house to do grocery shopping or to d other basic needs.

After Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti this month demanded residents wear face covers while shopping, Newsom welcomed the decision, though he refused to issue an executive order requiring similar precautions across the state.

“Localism is key,” Newsom said in a briefing on April 7. “We are really looking for leadership at the local level, and Mayor Garcetti has provided that … and you see that kind of leadership manifesting across the state where people take our recommendations and basic advice and they are conditioned, depending of the local situation. realities, even further.

The Times author John Myers contributed to this report.



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