California Coronavirus Update: State’s Top Health Official Gives Small Preview Of Gavin Newsom’s New Reopening Guidelines

Mark Ghaly
California Health and Human Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly State of California via Facebook

Last Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that the state will be issuing new guidelines for reopening businesses in its counties.

The governor revealed that watch periods may vary from business sector to business sector. The modifications would also impact the current stay-at-home order, he said. Newsom was careful not to reveal the exact direction of the guidelines — whether looser or more strict, except for one small detail.

“It has been traditional to look at a 14 day period,” he said, in terms of safety periods before reopening. Newsom said that, in some cases, those watch periods could extend “potentially up to 21 days.”

There were echoes of those comments on Tuesday, as California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly took over for Newsom and gave the state’s coronavirus update.

Ghaly spoke a little more broadly about longer time frames for some sector reopenings.

When asked specifically about the new guidelines, Ghaly said he wanted to wait for the governor to announce them but added, “We also know that it’s important to continue to watch how changes are manifest in communities and the data.” Ghaly continued, “Sometimes moving sooner than you get a clear indication doesn’t allow you to think how some of those changes have impacted you.”

He also emphasized the need to give “time for potential increases in the data to really show up so we don’t make any decisions in a premature way.”

That jives with Newsom’s comment that “watch periods could extend “potentially up to 21 days,” making longer watch periods seem like a very real possibility in some cases.

The governor said last week that the new guidelines would be “more prescriptive,” with “a deeper emphasis in how to do it.”

In terms of the business and stay-at-home orders, Newsom reminded residents that, “This is not a permanent state.”

That would seem to indicate more detailed guidance for Californians.

“The sector of personal responsibility” will be “encapsulated” in the new guidelines, said Ghaly on Tuesday, especially around “the needs to interact with others.”

“Personal responsibility” could just be a call to individual action. Or, it could be a hint about sanctions on individuals for their actions. Californians will only know for sure when Newsom himself releases the new guidelines, potentially during his midday news conference tomorrow.

When asked about schools Ghaly said bluntly, “The impact on schools is going to be really no impact.” He gave Los Angeles as an example saying that, while most schools are shut down to physical instruction, “We created a waiver process to bring our youngest students back sooner when those counties are between 100 and 200 cases per 100,000.” Los Angeles is currently over 200 coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents.

Los Angeles County now meets five of the state’s six current requirements for the lifting of business, school and stay-at-home restrictions. There was no indication of how the new guidelines may impact that.

Neither was there indication of how this would impact the restart of film and TV production in the state, or how it might impact the protocols contained in the “white paper” issued June 1 by the Industry-Wide Labor Management Safety Committee Task Force, and the “Safe Way Forward” guidelines issued jointly by the DGA, SAG-AFTRA, IATSE, Teamsters Local 399 and the Basic Crafts on June 12.

Deadline previously reported that studios, networks and Hollywood’s unions are close to finalizing terms for restarting film and TV production.

In terms of Tuesday’s COVID-19 reporting, Ghaly announced that California had seen 4480 new coronavirus cases over the past 24 hours. Ghaly cautioned that those numbers may be abnormally low due to delays from processing labs over the weekend. He said a more important number was the average number of daily cases over a 14-day period. That average is 7,049 cases/day.

The total number of COVID cases diagnosed in California thusfar is 673,095.

The secretary then announced 105 newly-reported deaths in the state from the virus. Again, he stressed a longer-term view. The 14-day daily average of new deaths is 128. L.A. has seen a total of 12,257 deaths since the pandemic began.

Test positivity rate is up slightly — .2 percent — to 6.3 percent over the past 14 days.

Hospitalizations are down about 19 percent over 2 weeks ago.

The number of ICU beds taken up by coronavirus patients was down about 18 percent over the same period.

Watch Dr. Ghaly’s press conference below.

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