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Coronavirus Update: Gov. Newsom Says 70 Percent Of California Economy Can Reopen; Bay Area Counties To Go Slowly

SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) --  California Gov. Gavin Newsom asserted Friday that roughly 70 percent of the state's economy was now able to reopen with modifications as the state moved to the Phase 2 reopening of businesses, but that there would be variances, including in the Bay Area.

Small businesses were adapting their practices across the state to minimize the chances of spreading the coronavirus, following the modification of the California stay-at-home order. However, a number of Bay Area counties still have the previous shelter-in-place order in effect and Newsom acknowledged that the region was taking more tentative steps towards reopening.

"We recognize variation across the state. Not every part of the state will move at the same time, and that is a very healthy thing. Because that reinforces our data-driven approach. We would like all parts of the state to move quickly and that will be determined on our behavior," Newsom said. "On continuing to abide by local health directives and recognizing that, if you're in the Bay Area, those directives do not sadly include today the opening of establishments for curbside pickup like this. But here in Sacramento, it does."


On Friday, Newsom held his daily press briefing on the state's coronavirus response at a Sacramento flower shop to discuss the challenges businesses will face as they adapt to reopen while continuing to preserve public health. Like many florists which have been given the green light to begin operations, Twiggs Floral Design in Sacramento was busy preparing bouquets of flower for Mother's Day deliveries and pick-ups.

"This is just an example of what we hope to be seeing replicated all throughout the state of California as we move into what we refer to as the second phase of our meaningful modifications," Newsom said.

On Thursday, Newsom and state health officer Dr. Mark Ghaly listed detailed guidance on the Phase 2 reopening of businesses across the state. Newsom said Friday state officials were working with almost two dozen counties across California to help designated businesses reopen and talks were underway about regional variances that will allow some areas to move even more quickly into later stages of modification.

Newsom noted that the state would be putting out additional guidelines for different sectors of industry next Tuesday, May 12, that would allow for more clarification including checklists for businesses to use.

"There's lots of moving parts, but the good news is we are starting to move," said Newsom.

The governor noted that business owners also needed to be realistic about the road ahead, saying the Phase 2 reopenings will allow businesses to get on their feet, and the modifications and restrictions mean some businesses will struggle to get back to where they were before the pandemic.

"Just because you announce that we have a variation on an opening and people can do curbside pickup and there's a sense that things are moving again, it doesn't mean that customers are confident and comfortable yet, doesn't mean that we are operating with the total number of employees we once were or the kind of revenue and receipts businesses are used to. Quite the contrary," said Newsom. "That's why it's so important that we provide supports and we do everything we can to help these businesses get through this moment, not to thrive yet, but to survive and get back on their feet."

Newsom said state agencies have contacted dozens of establishments over the last few days, including bars and nail salons, after they opened up ahead of the state's authorization for those sectors to reopen. The governor said those businesses were putting their employees and customers at risk and were now working with the state on how and when they will reopen.

The governor also touched on the personal protective gear that was being provided to "businesses large and small."

"Today we're distributing some two million masks to farm workers. Today we're distributing over a half million masks to small grocers all across the state of California. Hundreds of thousands of masks in other sectors of our economy are being distributed," said Newsom.

Governor Newsom discussed testing across the state and noted that case rate -- the percentage of people testing positive of the total number being tested -- would be an important number to pay attention to.

"That is one of the foundational numbers that will make a determination of how quickly we are able to move into the subsequent phases in this pandemic. Not just through Phase 2, which we're in, but Phase 3 and ultimately into that final phase, Phase 4, when we go back to events and concerts and large sports stadiums and arenas," said Newsom.

Newsom was optimistic about the timeline that the state was operating on.

"Phase 3 is not a year away; it's not 6 months away; it's not 3 months away," the governor said. "It may not be more than a month away."

Newsom said as of Friday, a total of 875,000 coronavirus tests had been administered in California with 32,000 conducted in the past 24 hours.

In terms of the daily update on the state's coronavirus numbers, Newsom said there were 1,898 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, bringing the state's total number of cases to 62,512. 81 new deaths were reported in the same period, raising the toll for California to 2,585.

The governor additionally addressed the state's plans to prepare for November's general election.

"There's a lot of concern and anxiety around this November's election in terms of making sure that you can conduct yourself in a safe way; to make sure your health is protected and to make sure that we are reaching out to all registered voters and giving them the opportunity and the choice not to feel like they have to go into a concentrated, dense environment where their health might be at risk."

Newsom said he signed an executive order on Friday that would allow every registered voter in California to receive a mail-in ballot, but also said that there would be sufficient physical voting locations for those who are not comfortable with voting by mail.

Newsom said that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla would be spearheading the effort to provide mail-in ballots to registered voters as well as putting together a plan to have all polling places set up for proper physical distancing with coronavirus safety guidelines in mind.

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