California prepares for long haul as COVID-19 curve bends

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CNN) – As states across the country scramble to increase their supply of N95 masks, California—the world’s 5th largest economy—made a striking move.

Governor Newsom announced the state put together a deal to acquire 200 million masks a month for healthcare and frontline workers. “We’re dealing at a time where we need to go boldly and we need to meet this moment without going small ball any longer,” he said.

In Los Angeles County, authorities are lifting the restrictions on coronavirus testing and beginning Friday, the city will require residents to wear a mask or covering in supermarkets and other essential businesses.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “And if you’re not covering your face by Friday morning an essential business can refuse you service.”

It follows a series of aggressive moves throughout the state beginning in mid-March that health experts say appear to show that California is bending the curve.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed said, “These measures will be disruptive to day-to-day life,   but there is no need to panic.”

On March 16, San Francisco became the first city in the country to issue a stay at home order. Bustling neighborhoods quickly became ghost towns.

Three days later, on March 19, Newsom issued a stay at home order for the entire state.

California got it right, medical experts say, as the results of these actions appear to be coming into focus.

The state has not seen the sharp escalation in cases nor deaths that experts had predicted.

Hospitals from both northern to southern California appear to have had little problem keeping up the volume of patients.

Dr. Robert Wachter, chair of the department of medicine at UCSF, credits the state’s early call but believes other factors including many companies early decision to have employees work from home.

Dr. Wachter said, “Apple and Google and Facebook and Microsoft have a big presence here and order their people to work from home, 10 days to two weeks before even the politicians did that. And I remember when it happened and it would be said, ‘Is that an overreaction?’ But it turned out it was prescient.”

It’s one thing to call for drastic social distancing. It’s another to actual see people comply.

Headed to California in early March, the return of the Grand Princess cruise ship with an unknown number of sick passengers and crew.

Experts speculate it made the crisis seem more imminent and real.

Because of the quick action, Santa Clara County the doubling time of cases has gone from three days to two weeks and perhaps even longer.

But officials say now is no time to let up.

Dr. Sara Cody, health officer of Santa Clara County, said, “That doesn’t mean we’re not still seeing new cases and new hospitalizations. This incident is a marathon, maybe even an ultramarathon.”

There are more than 432,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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