Ready to Stop Distancing? Dr. Fauci Says No.

Mounted police keep an eye on protestors during a “March to Open California” at the Huntington Beach pier in Huntington Beach, CA on Friday, May 1, 2020. Protestors were calling on officials to relax the state’s stay-at-home orders for COVID-19 (coronavirus). The previous day Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Orange County beaches closed. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Reopening California

Living in California, especially adjacent to the Bay Area, has provided some comfort ever since we returned home. That’s because we not only have a living, breathing governor, but one who is leading the country in spearheading a response. Along with media-favorite Andrew Cuomo, right-wing punching bag Gretchen Whitmer and a few select others, California Governor Gavin Newsom has been a role model in how to respond to this crisis. If you want to know how your state SHOULD BE responding, watch what he’s been doing.

  • Retail, but 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
  • Hair and nail salons
  • Gyms
  • Movie theaters
  • Sports without live audiences
  • Churches
  • Weddings
  • Sports with live audiences
  • Convention centers
  • Concerts
  • A degree of normalcy in our everyday lives

Reopening the Bay Area

Meanwhile, the six largest counties in the Bay Area (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara) have their own criteria based on even more stringent standards for reopening, which take precedence over the state’s stages(our county, Santa Cruz, generally follows the Bay Area’s lead).

  1. Case counts and hospital numbers — Public health officials want the counts of both new cases and hospitalized patients to stay flat or decrease for at least 14 consecutive days.
  2. Hospital capacity — One of the primary goals of sheltering in place has been protecting the regional healthcare system and keeping hospitals from being overwhelmed with seriously ill patients. Therefore, hospital capacity (specifically, the percentage of total beds that are occupied by COVID-19 patients) is an important marker of our readiness and the risk of reopening.
  3. Testing — The Bay Area has set an ambitious target for testing: 200 tests a day for every 100,000 residents. That number is higher than what Newsom has said is needed to reopen the state, or about 150 tests per 100,000 residents. But Bay Area health officers have been more aggressive in their coronavirus response than many other parts of California: the region was the first in the country to issue shelter-at-home orders, three days before Newsom locked down the entire state.
  4. Contact tracing — Infectious disease experts say that even more important than testing may be contact tracing: the work of investigating every reported case of the coronavirus, identifying anyone in close contact who may be infected as well and making sure all those people are isolated or quarantined to prevent further spread of illness. Contact tracing is critical to preventing another outbreak. However, it requires an army of trained workers, plus resources such as housing to help people stay isolated if they can’t do so at home, making it a considerable logistical undertaking.
  5. Personal protective equipment — This is the most challenging to track, and may still be up for debate: all hospitals, outpatient medical clinics, skilled nursing facilities and first responders must have a 30-day supply of personal protective equipment, including face masks, gloves and gowns.

Reopening the Country

Dr. Anthony Fauci is literally the only credible spokesperson in the federal government on COVID-19, just as he was with HIV. Today, in a hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, he made clear the serious consequences states (and the country) face if they reopen too quickly. From the LA Times: Fauci warns coronavirus not ‘under control,’ says rapid reopening risks new outbreaks.

So, hunker down folks.

Californians — especially Bay Area residents — aren’t being released anytime soon, regardless of what the beach mobs may think. If you’re in a state where your governor doesn’t see protecting public health as their highest priority, you can still personally follow the experts’ guidance and keep yourself protected until we’re sure this thing has passed.

Don’t let yourself or your loved ones become a statistic because of impatience. Stay alive, my friends. Stay alive.



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Wynn Hausser

Professional Communicator, Change Agent & Nonprofit Specialist. “COVID CHRONICLES” documents life under pandemic. Also write on sports, politics and life.