KEY POINTS

  • California begins to trod the long road back to "normalcy" by reopening a few of its business sectors Friday
  • It appears to have gotten the upper hand in its fight against COVID-19
  • There were 518 COVID-19 deaths in California between April 25 and May 1, which is a 19% fewer than the week before

On March 19, California became the first state to order a statewide lockdown to restrain the wider spread of COVID-19. At the time, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the lockdown order will remain in place "until further notice."

"Until further notice" now has a date, and it's May 8 when the hard-hit state allows some retail businesses to reopen with “modifications.” Newsom said among the firms slated to resume business in this step called Phase 2 are book, clothing, toy, sporting goods, music shops and florists. The reopening, however, won't include malls, offices or restaurants with sit-down services.

Phase 2 businesses that will reopen Friday will have to abide by restrictions such as physical distancing and delivering orders at the curbside. Newsom said detailed guidelines about the Phase 2 reopening will be released Thursday.

"We are entering into the next phase this week," said Newsom on Monday. "This is a very positive sign and it's happened only for one reason: The data says it can happen."

Newsom said more about Phase 2 in a tweet.

"CA is led by data and SCIENCE," he wrote. "Based off our progress, we’ll begin to gradually move into Stage 2 this FRIDAY. Some sectors where there’s a lower risk of transmission will be able to adapt & re-open with modifications. This will include some retail and manufacturing/logistics."

California's muted reopening for business comes at a time when it appears to have gotten the upper hand in its fight against COVID-19. The number of Californians hospitalized for COVID-19 has stabilized, said Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). Dr. Angell also said stabilization can also be seen in the number of hospital beds and ventilators. She noted the state is "progressing" in its personal protective gear inventory while testing capacity has increased.

As of Monday evening, California had 56,089 confirmed COVID-19 cases (making it the fifth most infected state) and 2,283 deaths (the seventh largest in the country). California was once the epicenter of the CoVID-19 pandemic in the United States.

On Monday, CDPH reported 518 COVID-19 deaths in California between April 25 and May 1. This toll is a 19% drop from the 643 deaths reported during the previous week.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 decreased by 2% Friday, to 3,428. On the other hand, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds remained unchanged at 1,192. CDPH said there are larger declines in the number of patients hospitalized or those in ICU beds suspected with COVID-19.

Newsom called these outcomes “slightly encouraging” but cautioned against the state backsliding if it wasn’t careful. He also warned if COVID-19 cases increase, the state will suspend the gradual reopening that begins Friday.

Gavin Newsom California gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a campaign rally in Burbank, California, May 30, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson