During the third week of April 2020, California Governor Gavin Newsom, together with California Department of Public Health Director Sonja Angell, announced that there is some light at the end of the proverbial tunnel regarding the state’s stay at home directive. As of mid-April, there appeared to have been a plateau in new cases of COVID-19 infection in California. The often spoken of curve associated with the coronavirus pandemic in California appeared to have “bent” and begun the process of notching downward. As a result, the Governor and the state’s public health officials announced that their focus could shift to the prospect of gradually reopening the state and allowing people relief from abiding by the strict stay at home mandate.
Governor Gavin Newsom’s Six-Point Plan to Gradually Reopen the State of California
In announcing the bend in the COVID-19 infection rate curve in California, Governor Newsom presented a six-point plan to gradually reopen the state of California:
- To monitor and protect communities through testing, tracking, isolation, and support to individuals who test positive and/or are exposed to COVID-19.
- To apply preventive measures to high-risk groups, including older residents, homeless, and those with underlying health conditions.
- For hospitals and health care systems to acquire staff and equipment to handle a potential surge in cases.
- To develop effective treatments to meet any potential demand.
- For businesses, schools and childcare facilities to support guidelines for social distancing and to provide supplies and equipment to keep people safe from illness.
- To develop flexible guidelines to determine when to reinstitute certain measures if necessary, based on the most current information.
There is talk that a seventh point may be added to the list. Such an element would address enforcement of the six-point plan.
“Normal” Life Is Not in the Offing
Even though reasonable discussion is now underway about easing the restrictions on life in California, this is not a matter of flipping a switch and everything reverting back to life as it was before the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. The stark reality is that life cannot return to the state we had prior to the COVID-19 pandemic until a vaccine is widely available in California and across the United States.
At this juncture in time, credible reports indicate that there are researchers that are on pathways towards effective vaccines, vaccines that are capable of being mass-produced and broadly made available – not only across the country but around the world. There are some possible vaccine alternatives that are in different stages of trials, including animal and human testing. With that said, a vaccine is not apt to be widely available this year. Infectious disease experts indicate that a usable vaccine is likely to be available to the public at large within an 18-month time frame. It is possible that the timeframe to a viable, widely available vaccine may be shorter; however, and as was mentioned, the odds of that occurring in 2020 is not considered highly likely. With that said, the U.S. National Institutes of Health announced that it might have a vaccine available to the general public in the Spring of 2021.
Keeping Public Spaces Safe From COVID-19 Contamination
As part of gradually opening up the state of California, as part of easing stay at home and associated directives, sharp focus must be paid to keeping public spaces safe from COVID-19 contamination. Just because the infection rate curve bent doesn’t mean that COVID-19 no longer presents a very real danger to the people of California.
With the gradual opening of the state on the horizon, more businesses in the state will begin to be able to open their doors to workers, vendors, clients, customers, and others. The same holds true for other entities to which people come or gather. Examples include churches, governmental offices, professional offices, restaurants, schools, and so forth.
The best practice to ensure the safety of people in public spaces, including businesses of all types, is to take a proactive stance to protect against or immediately remediate a COVID-19 contamination. A recommended course is to engage the services of an experienced, reputable COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection company.
Vital Importance of COVID-19 Testing
With an eye towards gradually opening up California and loosening COVID-19 related restrictions and understanding that a coronavirus vaccine is not going to be immediately available, widespread testing is going to become vitally important. At this juncture in time, testing capacity is slowly ramping up. Some infectious disease experts are making the case that a continuous individual testing regimen must be put in place. In other words, an individual who will be amongst the public ideally needs to be able to self-test… daily. This is the idealized goal as the state gradually opens until the point when an effective vaccine is available. While this can seem like an overwhelming goal, bear in mind that there are people in the country who have illnesses, diseases, and maladies that use different types of self-tests daily or even multiple times during the course of day. The bottom line is that this type of self-testing is possible and can ramp up far faster than we will have an available vaccine.