California Gov. Gavin Newsom released a roadmap for gradually relaxing the coronavirus lockdown. There is no fixed timeline, but rather a set of key objectives that need to be achieved before lockdown can be eased.
California isn’t only the most populous US state, it’s the world’s 5th largest economy on its own. Increasingly, the state of California has come in conflict with the US federal government.
When it comes to managing the coronavirus outbreak, Newsom also seems to have different ideas than those presented by Trump.
While the US president has repeatedly stated that he is eager to open the economy as soon as possible (as early as the 1st of May), Newsom believes no firm date can be decided yet, though he does say that at some point, the lockdown will have to be eased.
“While Californians have stepped up in a big way to flatten the curve and buy us time to prepare to fight the virus, at some point in the future we will need to modify our stay-at-home order,” Newsom said.
But instead of deciding a timeline, Newsom presented a set of indicators that will be used to determine when the lockdown can be eased. California will ease the lockdown when it has:
“The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed.”
“The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19.”
“The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges.”
“The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand.”
“The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing.”
“The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.”
This type of approach is much more in line with scientific evidence on containing the outbreak. As the US top epidemiologist Anthony Fauci said, “You don’t make the timeline, the virus makes the timeline.” It doesn’t make much sense to draw a line in the sand when so many variables are still unknown. If the lockdown is eased prematurely, the second wave of infections might be even more devastating than the first.
Even as the lockdown will be eased, it won’t be overnight and it won’t be like a flick of a button. Instead, it will be dimmed down and back up several times, Newsom cautions.
“As we contemplate reopening parts of our state, we must be guided by science and data, and we must understand that things will look different than before.”
“There is no light switch here. Think of it as a dimmer. It will toggle between less restrictive and more restrictive.”
This approach is similar to what other countries are planning. Notably, Germany’s plan for easing the lockdown also involves mass testing and tracking infection chains, which at this point seems to be the best approach given the circumstances.
Andrei's background is in geophysics, and he's been fascinated by it ever since he was a child. Feeling that there is a gap between scientists and the general audience, he started ZME Science -- and the results are what you see today.