Governor Newsom and Dr. Sonia Angell detail ‘regional variation’ protocols

The past couple weeks have seen the rupture of a statewide shelter-at-home order, as factions of the community formed around the demand for rights to open the economy and society, and the fear of massive death rates as a result of opening.
Staged protests and rallies in SLO County and across the United States provided a glimpse at the frustration built over 50 days of shelter-at-home orders that have severely stymied the economy, and decimated markets, personal savings, and the nation’s employment.

Following the fear-based response of sheltering against a relatively unknown novel coronavirus, the science over seven weeks in the U.S. built a framework for reopening economies with health and safety modifications in place.

Statements from SLO County officials last week, including the public release of the SLO County START Guide, concerning the reopening of the county economy and community, added to the anticipation of forward progress this week. The State was not ignorant of the urgency to advance the progress, as California Governor Gavin Newsom related on Monday.

California Governor Gavin Newsom at Monday’s State Press Conference.

“Today, we are announcing our efforts to update our stay-at-home guidelines,” Newsom said. “On Thursday, we will out our guidelines. If guidelines are met, and modifications are made, people can start reopening in particular sectors. It can begin as early as the end of this week.”


Newsom detailed a phase one adjustment to allow retail to open, with modifications, at the end of the week. He also included restaurants and hospitality as part of phase two — however, regional controls were confirmed so that SLO County can manage the reopening specific to the needs and opportunities of SLO County businesses and residents.

“We are entering the next phase at the end of this week,” Newsom said. “We will allow regional variation, but only after self-certification of particular criteria.”

The “broad strokes” that Newsom delivered offered general guidance that appointed counties to begin to take their local administration and certifications of businesses and institutions, which will trigger SLO County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein and Administrative Officer Wade Horton to work with the County Board of Supervisors to begin transition into Phase One of the SLO County START Guide.

On Monday, Director of California Public Health Dr. Sonia Angell clarified and defined the broad strokes that Governor Newsom related, confirming the regional control.

“Counties can request or attest for a variation for stage two,” Dr. Angell said “That means they can move more quickly through stage two, if they attest they ahve met the state’s readiness criteria.”

In addition, Dr. Angell said that counties can submit readiness plans, which SLO County publicly introduced on Friday as the SLO County START Guide.

How quickly the START Guide will begin to provide for the opening and operation of the local economy has yet to be related. It is expected that Dr. Borenstein will clarify details at today’s public briefing at 3:15 p.m. from the SLO County Joint Information Center on Kansas Avenue in SLO. The briefing is streamed live from the County Public Health Department, here.