On Friday, more than a month after the state ordered most closed businesses to close again, Gov. Gavin Newsum unveiled California’s second attempt at a comprehensive reopening plan.
“We’ve learned a lot in recent months,” Mr Newsom said.
The district watch list system, which had been deployed in parts and criticized as confusing and fragmented, had disappeared.
In its place ahead, the governor said, is a framework that sorts each of the state̵
Unlike the watch list model, which is based on a matrix of numbers that was difficult to analyze, the new system is largely based on new daily case numbers per 100,000 inhabitants as well as percentages of positivity.
[Trackingofcoronaviruscases[Trackcoronaviruscases[Проследяваненаслучаинакоронавирус[Trackcoronaviruscasesin every county in California.]
The freedom of action of civil servants in the field of public health to reopen their cases has disappeared; the counties will now not be able to move to a less restrictive level unless they have met the criteria at that level for at least two consecutive weeks. And each county must remain in its current layer for at least three weeks before it can move.
If the number of counties deteriorates for two weeks in a row, it will be moved to a more restrictive level.
“This time we will be more persistent,” Mr Newsom said.
The state’s earlier steps to open a business have been criticized for being too hasty and driven by the impatience of some businesses and some smaller, largely rural districts, rather than evidence. (This month, for example, the Los Angeles Times published this chart showing how the rush to start a business in Los Angeles County contributed to the alarming spread of the virus.)
However, experts say the intense focus on opening non-core businesses such as restaurants, bars and cinemas has come at the expense of what should be stricter restrictions on large key jobs where workers with lower wages have never been able to stop working.
This is especially true of the Central Valley, which has become the most alarming and constant hot spot in the country.
[Readmorestate[Readmoreaboutthestate’s[Прочететеповечезадържавата[Readmoreaboutthestate’sswitch to focus on the Central Valley – and why some said he should have come earlier.]
Mr Newsom said on Friday that “strike enforcement teams”, including officials from various government agencies, had been conducting on-site inspections aggressively for months, but that the state legislature was agreeing to expand law enforcement capacity.
Here are answers to some questions you may have:
How did we get here?
As early as April, Mr Newsom set out what he described as a science-based, deliberate step-by-step recovery process based on indicators such as hospitalizations, an increase in cases and deaths.
But in the following months, the complexity of opening a state with 58 very different counties, spread over a vast and diverse geography, became apparent.
Giving in to pressure from some businesses and officials, especially in smaller, more rural counties, Mr Newsom announced a process for some counties to move faster to reopen businesses than the rest of the country, effectively weakening constraints and adding complexity.
The state then moved on to the “watch list”, which eventually covers 90 percent of the state’s population.
In July, as cases rose, government officials announced that bars that had been allowed to reopen indoors in many places would have to close blinds. The interiors of restaurants, maps and cinemas were also ordered to close.
The result was an emotional and economic blow.
So what do the levels mean?
There are four color-coded levels, ranging from the most restrictive to the smallest: purple, red, orange and yellow. (There is no green, the governor noted – no county should see this as an opportunity to return to normal.)
The counties are already placed at a level based on their latest case numbers and positivity levels. They will be able to reopen businesses that are allowed in their given layer today.
But not everything will change right away for most Californians. The most restrictive level, purple, applies to 38 counties, including Los Angeles and Orange, where more than 80 percent of the state’s population lives.
In these counties, many types of businesses have to remain closed unless they can operate outdoors, including restaurants. All bars, breweries and distilleries should also remain closed, even if they have open space. However, hairdressing salons, barbershops and malls can be reopened indoors with modifications.
Nine counties are in the second most restrictive layer, the red, including San Diego and San Francisco, where some indoor nights will be allowed from today. Gyms, prayer houses and cinemas will also have the right to reopen indoors with limited capacity.
About a dozen predominantly smaller and more rural districts are in the two least restrictive levels, allowing them to reopen bars and other closed businesses with higher maximum capacity.
Frequently Asked Questions
Updated August 27, 2020
What should I consider when choosing a mask?
- There are a few basic things to keep in mind. Are there at least two layers? Okay. If you lift it to the light, can you see through it? Bad. Can you blow a candle through your mask? Bad. Do you feel good wearing it for hours? Okay. The most important thing after finding a mask that fits well, without gaps, is to find a mask that you will wear. Spend some time choosing your mask and find something that works with your personal style. You should wear it when you are in a public place for the foreseeable future. Read more: What is the best material for a mask?
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?
- At first, the coronavirus looked like a predominantly respiratory disease – many patients had fever and chills, were weak and tired, and coughed a lot, although some people did not show many symptoms at all. Those who appeared to be most ill had pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome and received supplemental oxygen. To date, doctors have identified many more symptoms and syndromes. In April, the CDC added to the list of early signs a sore throat, fever, chills and muscle aches. Gastrointestinal disorders such as diarrhea and nausea have also been reported. Another telltale sign of infection may be a sudden, profound decrease in smell and taste. Teenagers and young people have in some cases developed painful red and purple lesions on the fingers and toes – nicknamed “Covid toe” – but few other serious symptoms.
Why does standing six meters away from others help?
- Coronavirus is spread mainly by droplets from the mouth and nose, especially when you cough or sneeze. The CDC, one of the organizations using this measure, bases its six-foot recommendation on the idea that most large droplets that people throw away when they cough or sneeze will fall to the ground within six feet. But six feet was never a magic number to guarantee complete protection. Sneezing, for example, can shoot droplets far beyond six feet, according to a recent study. The rule is: You should be safest at a distance of six feet outside, especially when it is windy. But always keep a mask, even when you think you are far enough away.
I have antibodies. Am I immunized now?
- At the moment, this seems likely for at least a few months. There are scary stories of people suffering from what appears to be the second Covid-19 strike. But experts say these patients may have a prolonged course of infection, with the virus taking slowly to take weeks to months after initial exposure. People infected with the coronavirus usually produce immune molecules called antibodies, which are protective proteins created in response to infection. These antibodies can last in the body for only two to three months, which may seem alarming, but this is perfectly normal once the acute infection subsides, said Dr. Michael Mina, an immunologist at Harvard University. It may be possible to get coronavirus again, but it is unlikely to be possible for a short period of time from the initial infection or to make people sick a second time.
I am a small business owner. Can I get relief?
- Incentive bills passed in March offer help to millions of American small businesses. Eligible companies are non-profit companies and organizations with less than 500 employees, including sole traders, independent contractors and freelancers. Some larger companies in some industries are also allowed. The proposed assistance, which is managed by the Small Business Administration, includes the Wage Protection Program and the Disaster Loan Program. But many people have not yet seen the payouts. Even those who have received help are confused: the rules are draconian, and some are left to sit on money they do not know how to use. Many small business owners receive less than expected or hear nothing at all.
What are my rights if I am worried about going back to work?
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Will this affect the opening of the school?
Chadwick Boseman was a private figure by Hollywood standards, my colleagues wrote over the weekend. Maybe that’s why there was such a particularly shocking shock that the 43-year-old actor died at home in Los Angeles on Friday.
But as countless fans have noticed, he learned he had colon cancer in 2016, long before he took on some of his most important roles, including T’Challa in The Black Panther. Which means he may have had some time to think about the legacy he would have left behind.
My colleague Wesley Morris wrote that this is a work that presents exceptional black Americans with dignity – and makes that dignity interesting.
“Boseman was not an imitator,” Wesley wrote. “He was a historian in his own way.”
California Today goes live at 6:30 a.m. Pacific time on weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com. Did you forward this email? Sign up for California Today here and read each edition online here.
Jill Cowan grew up in Orange County, went to school at the University of Berkeley and reported throughout the state, including the Bay Area, Bakersfield and Los Angeles – but she always wants to see more. Follow here or on Twitter.
California is now edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Berkeley.