Coronavirus: California to begin reopening only once testing and tracing are improved, officials say

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'The goal here will be creating opportunities for lower-risk sectors to adapt and reopen'

World | The Independent

California governor Gavin Newsom has revealed that the state is aiming to reopen schools and some workplaces within the next few weeks, but said this will only happen if testing and tracing of coronavirus is improved.

The state’s governor opened the door to the state reopening in the coming weeks, while speaking at his daily briefing on Tuesday.

He said that the state would begin the second phase of its coronavirus response, by opening schools and some workplaces, and added: “Phase two is in weeks, not months.”

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He confirmed that the second phase of the response will only go ahead if the state’s ability to test for and trace the virus, as well as its stocks of personal protection equipment (PPE), are improved, according to Reuters.

Mr Newsom added that schools might reopen in the summer, which would start the next school year earlier than was originally planned, before the outbreak forced the state to shut them.

“We are considering the prospect of an even earlier school year,” he said. “we need to start preparing for the physical changes in the schools.”

The governor added that non-essential businesses could also reopen in the next few weeks, and highlighted manufacturing facilities and certain office spaces as possibilities.

State Public Health Officer Sonia Angell said that phase two of the plan is to get some businesses open again.

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“The goal here will be creating opportunities for lower-risk sectors to adapt and reopen,” she said, and added that in order for this to happen, they need to make “the workspace environment as safe as possible.”

The governor added that it wil take months for social gatherings, concerts and some workplaces to reopen again.

A number of states, including Georgia, Texas  have already started to ease social distancing measures.

Earlier this month, president Donald Trump urged states to begin taking measures to open up the economy against a background of huge losses on the stock market, more than 20m Americans filing for unemployment and a threat to the future of millions of businesses across the country.

States are taking different approaches, and Georgia governor Brian Kemp decided to reopen parts of the state’s economy last Friday, by allowing businesses such as barbershops, gyms and nail salons to open.

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Texas governor Greg Abbott confirmed the stay-at-home order for the state will end on 30 April, but hairdressers and barbershops will stay closed for the time being.

This will begin the end of social distancing measures in the state, and will allow restaurants, malls and theatres to reopen, with a restriction of a 25% occupancy limit.

However, Connecticut governor Ned Lamont opted to extend the state’s stay-at-home order until 20 May, and said that more testing needs to take place, before the state can reopen.

Google’s dedicated coronavirus page shows that California has upwards of 43,464 confirmed cases and at least 1,755​ deaths.

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, nationally there are now upwards of on million people who have tested positive for coronavirus. The death toll has reached at least 58,126.

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