April 15 (UPI) — The governors of California and Oregon released outlines of their plans on Tuesday to reopen their states after stay-at-home orders to limit the spread of COVID-19.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said they would both implement gradual openings based on science and data, declining to offer a set date on when orders to remain inside and close non-essential businesses would end.
“There is no light switch here, it’s more like a dimmer,” Newsom said. “I know you want the timeline, but we can’t get ahead of ourselves and dream of regretting. Let’s not make the mistake of pulling the plug too early, as much as we want to.”
Newsom said he expects to have a better view of the timing for his plan to reopen the state in about two weeks but said “the prospects of mass gatherings is negligible at best until we get to herd immunity and a vaccine.”
He added that large-scale events would likely not take place until after August unless the situation changes.
Newsom outlined benchmarks to determine when the state will reopen, including expanding testing to identify and isolate coronavirus patients, protecting seniors and other high-risk individuals, ensuring personal protective gear needed for healthcare workers to meet future surges in patients, collaborating with academics for therapies and treatment, establishing regulations to ensure physical distancing in public places, and developing mechanisms to allow the state to reinstate stay-at-home orders.
He also warned that people will return to an environment in which people will continue to wear masks, and restaurants staff will wear masks and gloves while serving half as many customers.
Schools would also be required to develop new protocols, including plans to sanitize playgrounds and other surfaces to prevent infections.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown said the state has moved away from its previous plans to begin lifting restrictions after a 10-day period of no new infections based on guidance by White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx. Brown said officials are now “using different metrics here in Oregon.”
She added the state will look to establish a declining rate of active cases, sufficient equipment for healthcare workers, the ability to trace and isolate positive cases, and strategies to protect nursing homes, the homeless and other vulnerable communities.
“This is only a framework,” Brown said. ” We have to be cautious or it will backfire.”
Brown also said she will seek input from local leaders and consult with industries most affected by the shutdown.
Both California and Oregon joined a coalition with Washington to coordinate their plans to reopen, with a similar effort being undertaken by New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he would meet with governors of individual states to discuss when they would be prepared to open, adding he would not look to force any states to open.
“The governors are going to be running their individual states. Some of them will say, ‘No, I can’t open now.’ And some of them may last longer than we would even think,” he said. “I’m not going to put any pressure on any governor to open.”
He added that he would also be authorizing some states to reopen, potentially before federal social distancing guidelines extending through the end of the month are up.
On Monday, Trump asserted that he has the authority to determine when the states will reopen, stating a plan to do so will be forthcoming shortly.