Is California Ready for a Second Phase

by Lisa Schliff

Today at noon I watched Governor Newsom’s daily (weekday) update on the corona virus pandemic as it relates to Californians and our leadership. I applaud his excellent efforts to date, which include a relatively early mandate for all Californians to stay at home, all non-essential businesses to shut down, and attaining and distributing millions of masks and many ventilators for hospitals and clinics. He has been collaborating with others including the governors of Washington and Oregon. He has consulted with medical experts and has heeded their advice. Most of this is in sharp contrast to the actions of President Donald Trump, who ignored warnings, delayed emergency action, dismantled the Office of Pandemic Diseases installed by former President Obama, and has made comments that leave us either confused or reeling with their inaccuracy and untruthfulness.

As a result of Governor Newsom’s leadership and most Californians’ willingness to comply with the mandates coming from his office, our rate of infection and death is much lower than it could have been and definitely lower than other states with large populations such as New York, New Jersey and Florida. We seem to be on the verge of a ‘second phase’, whereby some non-essential businesses and public places open, but still require social distancing and masks. Governor Newsom informed us today that some Southern California Beaches (Huntington, Newport,and Seal) are now open. Construction sites are cranking up again after being shut down in late March.

On the local level, and to my personal delight, the pickle ball courts in Memorial Park are now open for play, but only in household groups. Golf courses are also open again for household groups. I can almost sense the puppy dog eagerness rising in our outdoor-and entertainment-loving hearts as we look forward to a life of normalcy again. However (sorry to rain on the parade), I can’t help but caution all of us to temper our anticipation with lots of patience. There is every possibility that after we resume face-to-face activities and wave goodbye to our Zoom conferences,the COVID-19 viral infections will surge once again. We might have to return to our isolated lives, and that may occur more than once.

There are other possibilities on the horizon, including a possible vaccine next spring. Newsom is working to make available much more testing for the virus and for antibodies, which will aid us in tracking and controlling the spread of the disease. Newsom closed out his daily talk with a comment that continues to haunt me. I paraphrase, “This pandemic may last a lot longer than most of us are imagining.” Let’s hope he’s wrong about that.

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