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California Statewide COVID-19 Opening Plan

May 5, 2020

A rundown of the governor’s plan, and what one expert thinks of it.

This is considerably shortened from the full story in Los Angeles Times, May 4 which has useful charts, by Rong-Gong Lin II.

For a crash course in COVID-19 epidemiology, read the Tomas Pueyo blog series.
For an in-depth look at the history and structure of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, read the Dr. Jay Gralla blog series.

Expert is Dr. Robert Kim-Farley: Medical epidemiologist and infectious-disease expert at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health; former senior official for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization; 2004 to 2018, he was Los Angeles County’s director of the Division of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention.

Stage 1: Continue with the stay-at-home order

We’ve been in Stage 1 since March 19. State health officer Dr. Sonia Angell says California hospitalization rates for COVID-19 are stable so we can now begin talking about reopening the state. Some regions are already loosening local orders. California has had over 55,000 COVID-19 cases and 2,200 deaths. L.A. County deaths are 55% (1200) of the total.

Expert forecast: By the end of May or mid-June, Kim-Farley expects new cases to decline in locales where effective physical-distancing measures have been followed. There will probably be enough capacity to offer tests for the virus and antibodies to meet the demand.

Stage 2: Gradual opening of lower-risk workplaces

Opening up with new restrictions:

  • Retail, with adaptations, like offering curbside pickup
  • Factories, such as those that manufacture toys, clothing and furniture
  • Offices, where telecommuting is not possible, but with modifications to lower risk
  • Modified school and child-care programs reopen

Expert forecast: California will probably be headed to Stage 2 in mid-June through the month of July, depending on the status of the pandemic.

Governor Newsom said some initial parts of Stage 2 would begin as soon as Friday, such as allowing curbside pickup at nonessential stores that had been ordered shut, including bookstores, clothing stores, music stores, toy stores, florists, sporting goods retailers. Factories that supply those businesses also would be allowed to resume. More-detailed guidelines on the businesses that could reopen will released Thursday.

Other parts of Stage 2 are still on hold — offices, shopping malls, and seated dining at restaurants are still ordered shut.

Stage 3: Opening of higher-risk workplaces

There will need to be much more modification to these workplaces to make them safer, state health officer Angell said last week. “We need to know much more about the movement of disease to be able to make data-informed decisions about what’s safe for folks,” Angell said.

  • Hair and nail salons
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters
  • Sports without live audiences
  • Churches
  • Weddings

Expert forecast: Stage 3 may occur around August or September — late summer or early fall. Social-distancing measures — like wearing face coverings and limiting the number of people inside a store — will likely continue.

Stage 4: Full opening

The full end of the stay-at-home order, allowing the resumption of:

  • Sports with live audiences
  • Convention centers
  • Concerts

Expert forecast: Probably not until middle or latter part of 2021. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said that, even under the most optimistic scenarios, it will take 12 to 18 months for a vaccine to become available.
[Posted by Chuck Almdale]

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