SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) -- Citing encouraging progress in the state's battle against the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced additional modifications Monday to the shelter-in-place order to allow mostly rural counties to move deeper into Stage 2 reopening which includes dine-in restaurants and shopping centers.
The governor also predicted that should current trendlines hold on new COVID-19 cases, testing, contact tracing, and PPE distribution, California would be weeks away from moving into Phase 3, which would include allowing in-store retail and hair salons to operate, as well as pro sports to resume without fans in attendance.
Newsom pointed out some of the signs of progress over the past two weeks, including declines in both hospitalizations and ICU patients over a 14-day period; testing that has passed the 1.3 million mark - with 57,000 tests administered in the last 24 hours, several thousand contact tracers deployed, and increasing distribution of personal protective equipment.
"In our additional modifications, we are allowing some larger counties to continue to make progress deeper into Phase 2, effective immediately, but on their own pace," said Newsom. "We estimate roughly 53 of the 58 counties would be eligible to move into this phase."
Other sectors of the economy that can begin reopening with modifications include office spaces and counseling services in places of worship, curbside libraries and drive-in movie theaters.
COMPLETE COVERAGE: CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC
While the Bay Area was one of the state's regions that would be progressing more slowly, Newsom noted that 24 counties in the state have self-attested and confirmed to be able to move past California's current stay-at-home order and adopt variances in their counties. The criteria for counties to certify they are ready to move further into Stage 2 reopenings are listed on the California COVID-19 website.
As COVID-19 testing increases significantly in the state, more and more focus would be concentrated on the rate of positive tests, with the aim of keeping the positivity rate below 8 percent.
"We're really starting to focus in on the hot spots within counties, particularly in and around our skilled nursing facilities and those areas within the counties that remain the most vulnerable and challenging in terms of protecting people and preventing the spread of the virus. So we, in this next phase, are looking to redouble the efforts around those hot spots within those counties," Newsom explained.
The governor said if the state is able to continue its progress and hold down the rate of transmissions and positive tests, more modifications to the stay-at-home order would follow suit.
"We'll be making announcements statewide, not just with the regional variances, that would allow for retail not just to be picked up, but in-store retail to be loosened up. In addition to that, sporting events, pro sports in that first week or so of June, without spectators and modifications and very prescriptive conditions, could also begin to move forward. And a number of other sectors of our economy will open up -- again, if we hold up these trend lines in the next number of weeks -- and that includes, for example, getting a haircut, which is very meaningful. That could be done on a regional variance, but it will be able to be advanced, we believe in the next few weeks even statewide."
When asked for more specifics on when shopping in stores and haircuts would be allowed, Newsom said "We're within a window of a few weeks. We'll be putting out guidelines in the space for counties that can self-attest in the next week or so, and then within a few weeks, more broadly statewide those guidelines will be forthcoming."
Part of the Stage 3 reopenings would involve religious gatherings, and Newsom while progress is being made on allowing congregants to gather, having worshipers sitting in pews will require significant modifications.
"We are within a few weeks of some meaningful modifications as relates to houses of worship. Working with the faith-based community, today we made some progress on counseling services and clarifying counseling as an appropriate advancement under the stay-at-home order for houses of worship, as well as allowing clergy to congregate together as you would otherwise with these office guidelines that have been modified," Newsom said. "But as it relates to congregants coming back into the pews, we are a few weeks away. But we are working overtime with leaders in the community to come up with those guidelines and restore that capacity, we hope, in the very, very near future."
California has seen a total of 80,430 coronavirus cases as of Monday afternoon, with 3,302 deaths attributed to the disease.
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