Tensions have risen in California as the statewide shutdown continues, with local leaders in rural and suburban areas calling for shelter-in-place restrictions to be lifted or eased as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak economic havoc. The state is entering its seventh full week under Gov. Gavin Newsom’s mandatory stay-at-home order, issued March 19 as an effort to slow the spread of the virus by instituting social distancing. California was the first state in the U.S. to do so. Newsom announced during Monday’s news conference that some California retail businesses – including clothing, bookstores, sporting good stores and florists – may begin to open on curbside pickup-only basis starting Friday. California has fared relatively well overall in the fight against COVID-19, the disease caused by the highly contagious virus, so far reporting modest death and infection figures, considering its population of about 40 million. Newsom and health experts have credited early action and strong adherence to social distancing guidelines in helping ward off surges of hospitalizations and fatalities. Still, more than 2,200 have died among nearly 54,000 lab-confirmed cases of the coronavirus, the California Department of Public Health said in a Sunday update. More than half of the state’s death toll so far come from Los Angeles County, where more than 1,200 have died and more than 25,000 cases have been reported, according to the county’s public health department. With Newsom’s stay-at-home order came the closure of businesses considered nonessential. Unemployment hit record highs, as mass layoffs or furloughs commenced within days or weeks across a range of economic sectors. Some of those temporary business closures became permanent, as the state and U.S. now find themselves in a recession.
Scott Mc Kiernan, Founder & Editor-in-Chief, ZUMA Press