Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday said he is coordinating with governors in Oregon and Washington on a West Coast plan to end the statewide stay-at-home order he imposed nearly a month ago to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came on a day when California was forecast to see a peak in demand on its hospital resources, according to a widely respected model for predicting COVID-19’s impact.
The governor’s office has continued to rely on a mix of models that forecast a mid-May peak for the Golden State. But Newsom acknowledged Monday the stay-home order he issued March 19 has worked better than expected in “bending the curve” of new infections downward, clearing the way toward ending the restrictions that have shuttered schools and most businesses and kept people largely confined to their homes.
“The curve is being bent because of you and your willingness to stay at home,” Newsom said. “We didn’t see the kind of surge people predicted.”
The governor plans to provide more detail on his framework for lifting California’s stay-home order at noon Tuesday.
Newsom, Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown joined a coalition of governors on the East Coast — Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — who also decided Monday to form a committee of public health officials and economic development officials to develop guidelines on when and how to ease the restrictions they put in place in their states.
The two separate regional announcements came hours after President Trump indicated that he, not the governors, would have the ultimate say on how and when to reopen the coronavirus-stricken country.
For the purpose of creating conflict and confusion, some in the Fake News Media are saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2020
Taking to Twitter on Monday, Trump said some are “saying that it is the Governors decision to open up the states, not that of the President of the United States & the Federal Government. Let it be fully understood that this is incorrect…it is the decision of the President, and for many good reasons.”
He added, “With that being said, the Administration and I are working closely with the Governors, and this will continue. A decision by me, in conjunction with the Governors and input from others, will be made shortly!”
The president’s assertion led to a flurry of reaction from governors who questioned the White House’s authority to make the decision for their states.
“The government doesn’t get opened up via Twitter. It gets opened up at the state level,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said.
As he has done throughout the crisis, Newsom struck a diplomatic tone in response to Trump’s tweets, saying that he had been working closely with the federal government for weeks and expected that collaboration to continue as the state develops its plan for reversing the restrictions.
“I have all the confidence in the world that we’ll maintain that collaborative spirit in terms of the decision making that we make here within the state of California,” Newsom said.
As of Monday, more than 23,000 Californians have now tested positive for the novel coronavirus, including more than 5,000 in the Bay Area, according to updated data compiled by this news organization. A total of 82 new deaths were reported over the weekend, bringing the statewide death toll to 676.
There are now 3,015 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in hospitals around the state, including 1,178 in intensive care unit beds, according to the latest data released by the California Department of Public Health.
The number of COVID-19 patients in Bay Area ICUs on Monday was at 171 — the lowest it has been in nearly a week after peaking at 199 on Wednesday. Across the five-county Bay Area, 420 COVID-19 patients were in the hospital, down 6 percent from a peak of 445 on Wednesday.
Newsom did not indicate how long the lockdown will continue, but he did say that the reopening decisions would be determined by science and health outcomes — not politics.
“All of us have a little cabin fever,” Newsom said, “and we look forward to coming back to a little normalcy.”
Newsom and the other governors said it was important for the Western states to work together. In a joint statement, they said that “COVID-19 has preyed upon our interconnectedness” and that in the coming weeks, “the West Coast will flip the script on COVID-19.”
“With our states acting in close coordination and collaboration to ensure the virus can never spread wildly in our communities,” the joint statement said. “We are announcing that California, Oregon and Washington have agreed to work together on a shared approach for reopening our economies — one that identifies clear indicators for communities to restart public life and business.”
“In the aggregate, the case numbers are rising that’s why incredibly important to continue to do what we’ve done until these lines turn in the opposite direction.”
Newsom said he was “very proud” that California pursued the country’s first statewide stay-home order last month and of the local health officials including in the Bay Area who had issued similar orders days earlier.
Check back more for updates.