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Local Governments In Driver’s Seat As California Businesses Reopen, Newsom Says

Barriers encourage pedestrians to avoid sidewalk space used by restaurants and observe social distance in Midtown, Sacramento on Friday, May 22, 2020.
Andrew Nixon/CapTadio
Barriers encourage pedestrians to avoid sidewalk space used by restaurants and observe social distance in Midtown, Sacramento on Friday, May 22, 2020.

As many California communities reopen businesses like restaurants and hair salons for the first time in months, Gov. Gavin Newsom reassured residents on Friday that the state is prepared for a surge or outbreak in cases.

He also said that local governments are in the driver’s seat when it comes to modifying the stay-at-home order.

“We put out the guide, the counties decide when,” Newsom said.

As of Friday, 49 counties had submitted reopening plans, or “attestations,” to the state. This allows them to move more quickly through phase two and reopen churches, barber shops and more, all with restrictions.

During his COVID-19 briefing at noon Friday, Newsom said some counties are entering phase three, but that phase four — which would allow residents to attend large gatherings like concerts and sporting games — is “simply not there.”

He spent much of the briefing going over ways that California is prepared for a surge of patients or an outbreak.

Some 44 million procedure masks were delivered in the past couple weeks to industries that need personal protective equipment to reopen, including agriculture and hospitality. California’s PPE coffers include nearly 86 million procedure masks and 8 million face shields.

The state is also increasing its capacity to trace how people acquire the virus. Before COVID-19, California had 3,000 contact tracers. The goal is to up that number to 10,000 by July.

Vulnerable populations are also being helped, Newsom said, noting that 60% of the more than 15,000 hotel rooms for unsheltered residents are occupied.

But there remain challenges.

The governor noted that, when it comes to health disparities for COVID-19 cases and race, people of color are adversely affected.

Black residents make up 6% of the population but 10% of the state’s deaths, and Latinos 40% of the population but 55% of the cases, according to state data.

In addition to discussing these health disparities, Newsom began his briefing by addressing race and the police killing of George Floyd.

Videos being shared widely on social media show Floyd died after a Minnesota officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes, preventing him from breathing.

The governor described how one of his children wanted him to watch the video.

“My daughter wanted to make sure I saw it,” Newsom said. “Here she was, tearing up, because she knew it was wrong.”

Floyd’s death has sparked days of demonstrations in Minneapolis and across the country.

"We have to be more resolved, now more than ever, to do more and be better," Newsom said.

Copyright 2020 CapRadio

Nick Miller