A woman takes photos of the Alameda Theater marquee in Alameda, Calif., on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. Seven Bay Area counties ordered shelter-in-place to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Photo by Ray Chavez, Bay Area News Group
Newsom did not directly address Trump’s comments, but he emphasized that such a timeline would not work for California.
Newsom: “We’re trying to bend that curve, but we haven’t bent it. … April, early April, I think that would be misleading to represent, at least for California. … I’ve said this very honestly and objectively based on all the expertise and experts … the next six to eight weeks will be pivotal and will be determinative in terms of being able to … reset expectations. … I said eight to 12 weeks … we can continue to do what we’ve done, and if we do that, hopefully, we’ll be in a very different place than we are today. I think April, for California, would be sooner than any of the experts I’ve talked to would believe is possible.”
By underscoring his reliance on health experts to determine an appropriate time to reopen the state, Newsom implicitly contrasted himself with the president, who said he chose the April 12 date because “I just thought it was a beautiful time.”
However, it’s ultimately governors, not the president, who will decide when their states reopen for business. To date, almost half of U.S. states have imposed lockdowns in response to coronavirus.
California lags behind in testing
Newsom also acknowledged Tuesday that California has “a lot more work to do” when it comes to testing, outlining several key areas that need to be improved.
Consolidating testing numbers. Right now, coronavirus tests are being conducted by a variety of organizations, including university labs, government labs and private companies, each of which has its own method. This uncoordinated testing strategy has resulted in “a confusing, incomplete picture of the virus in California” and how many people are infected, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Lack of testing components. Newsom said there’s still a lack of test kit components, such as swabs and reagants.
Lengthy turnaround times. The governor said some tests are taking between seven and nine days to process, which is much too long. According to the state’s Department of Public Health, 12,100 tests were pending as of Monday.
Newsom said the state will release updated testing numbers today, which will “show a significant jump.” However, he added, “It’s still not close to where we need to be.”
Case in point: California conducted approximately 27,650 tests as of Monday, while New York, which has half the population and 10 times the number of coronavirus cases identified, had conducted more than 90,000 tests, The San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Exclusive CalMatters coronavirus content
Coronavirus by the numbers: CalMatters’ Ana Ibarra and Elizabeth Castillo put together a dashboard breaking down California’s coronavirus cases, testing capacity and supply of protective equipment for medical professionals. It will be updated regularly — check back often.
“Getting Through Coronavirus, Explained,” our series of online discussions about the major questions regarding the pandemic, will feature Julie Su, Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, and Labor Commissioner Lilia Garcia-Brower this Thursday at 1 p.m. We’ll answer questions about unemployment, job loss, sick leave and related issues. Register here or visit calmatters.org.
The Bottom Line: As of 9 p.m. Tuesday night, California had 2,610 confirmed coronavirus cases and 55 deaths from the virus, according to a Los Angeles Times tracker.
Other stories you should know
1. Cannabis, cocktails and coronavirus: Oh my
California has loosened restrictions on cannabis dispensaries and restaurants serving alcohol in a two-pronged effort to keep small businesses afloat and Californians less panicky during the coronavirus pandemic, CalMatters’ Ben Christopher reports. Dispensaries are considered an essential business, and some are now allowed to sell weed to customers in their cars or offer home delivery without a signature — as long as customers text a picture of their ID — to maintain social distancing. California restaurants can also sell alcohol-to-go as long as food is ordered with it, a policy that’s made some customers smile: “For them, it’s like being in Vegas, like, ‘Let’s get a margarita to go!’” a Goleta bartender said.
2.Are gun stores essential businesses? State says no, some counties say yes
3.How the coronavirus pandemic is affecting undocumented workers
The nearly one in 10 California workers who are undocumented face unique challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, as they are ineligible for many relief programs and unemployment insurance, La Opinión’s Jacqueline García and CalMatters’ Jackie Botts report. Although many undocumented workers pay state and local taxes, they don’t qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit, which gives cash back to those earning $30,000 or less per year. And at present, they’re excluded from the president’s plan to send stimulus checks to U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. Many also lack health insurance, although some clinics are waiving coronavirus test fees for the uninsured.
CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Last week, Newsom needlessly caused alarm and confusion for Californians while making pronouncements about dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.