No one can be sure if the apparent success of California with the coronavirus is due to “extraordinary behavior” as Governor Gavin Newsom believes, or if it is just another twist in the way the pathogen “behaves”. If it is the latter, the consequences could be tragic.

The Democratic governor said during a news briefing that people’s adherence to the stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines should be credited for the “bend in the curve”, a description that applies to the graphical images showing the track of the pandemic.

Newsom said, “The models have changed because of your behavior. This will not be a permanent state.” He then discussed plans for how the measures for containing the coronavirus could be modified as the situation evolves, comparing it to a dimmer switch as opposed to an on/off switch.

His plan did not elaborate on any schedule but did focus on the abilities of communities, hospitals, health care systems and individuals to carry out the six-point plan that includes the abilities:

  1. To monitor and protect communities through testing, tracking, isolation, and support to individuals who test positive and/or are exposed to COVID-19.
  2. To apply preventive measures to high-risk groups, including older residents, homeless and those with underlying health conditions.
  3. For hospitals and health care systems to acquire staff and equipment to handle a potential surge in cases.
  4. To develop effective treatments to meet any potential demand.
  5. For businesses, schools and childcare facilities to support guidelines for social distancing and to provide supplies and equipment to keep people safe from illness.
  6. To develop flexible guidelines to determine when to reinstitute certain measures if necessary, based on the most current information.

According to Newsom, there will be teams of officials focused on each area with weekly updates to determine progress and come up with a “real-time” timetable.

California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Sonia Angell joined the governor and spoke of some changes that could occur in people’s daily lives. Some of them she described could draw some resistance especially for foodservice establishments.

Ordering fast food from a person at a counter wearing a face mask is one thing, but diners and owners of finer establishments may balk at fewer tables to allow or even enforce social distancing, disposable menus, and waitstaff wearing gloves and face masks.

The legacy of this pandemic might be that a romantic dinner or business meal will have to be partaken of in a clinical or medical like ambiance. The fear among some is that a 7th point of the plan, for enforcement of social guidelines, might be in the works as well.

Governor Gavin Newsom imposed stay-at-home orders on all 40 million Californians on March 19 Governor Gavin Newsom Photo: GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / JUSTIN SULLIVAN