Lydia Tsou/ HIGHLANDER

As of Tuesday, May 12, California Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided to move forward with the opening of certain retail stores, restaurants, malls and offices, in addition to allowing local governments to decide whether to reopen and loosen restrictions on individual cities. Unfortunately, it is far too soon to start taking these strides and a policy like this will do more harm than good. If Gov. Newsom actually lifts these restrictions and gives counties known for anti-lockdown protests enough freedom to determine guidelines, a second spike in cases is likely to happen, making this a matter of life and death.

Gov. Newsom has made the troubling decision to leave reopenings up to the discretion of local governments. A choice as delicate as this should not be allotted to city councils that are not looking out for the residents of other cities. If one county decides to reopen and move into phase two, there is no guarantee that a spike in the virus in one area will not spill into the next city over. This is one of the many reasons why this decision was irresponsible. Newsom seems to have made it without thinking of the life threatening consequences. 

Before moving into phase two, counties are required to provide the state with proof of containment. Once cleared, restaurant dining rooms would be open in addition to shopping malls. The government simply shouldn’t have allowed this to happen. Although many Californians trust how Newsom has handled the virus, this should not be a sign that the state should cease all of the progress it has made. If someone were to take an antibiotic for an illness, they would not stop after the first day because they started to feel a little better. With that being said, just because California began seeing a bit of progress, that does not negate the fact that this highly contagious virus is still ever present. This course of action means that a second spike is in the state’s imminent future. In fact, at time of writing, there are about 77,005 cases statewide and that number is constantly increasing. 

A policy like this would be very problematic considering that cities, including areas of the beach protests, would surely push for phase two. The reopenings of these areas would without a doubt contribute to a spike in cases especially considering the fact that these people have shown no self-control to social distance. Even if cities were to reopen facilities, it would be impossible to enforce social distancing since many people will be upset that their “rights” are being infringed upon. While there are reports that California has received adequate amounts of testing and equipment to combat the virus, it is hard for counties to even fathom a reliable containment plan. Even with testing, it is still not enough to actively open multiple cities in a state as massive as California. 

Putting dollar signs before human lives is not the mindset that will get the state through this pandemic. Furthermore, if people keep ignoring lockdown protocol, there will not be an economy to stimulate in the first place. Many people are understandably concerned with the downturn of California’s economy due to the coronavirus; Newsom has begun to address these concerns by partnering with University of California campuses to hire up to a projected 20,000 disease tracers in response to tracking down the virus. Hiring all of these people would definitely leave a lot less unemployed. But even with these trackers hired, people should stay home and governments should not move forward with reopenings. 

People have been protesting the reopenings, but they do not understand the severity of this virus. People are dying without being around their families and healthcare workers are quarantined from their families for weeks at a time. In fact, at time of writing, there have been 3,154 deaths statewide. California was the first state to enforce a stay-at-home order, but throwing away all of this progress and risking everyone’s life for profit is wildly irresponsible. At a time like this, it is better to be safe than sorry by ceasing reopenings. 

Newsom has made great progress in regards to testing, virus control, medical facilities and supplies. However, this should not be a sign that California should revert back to a pre coronavirus lifestyle. Instead, this should be a push of encouragement for Californians to persevere and continue flattening the curve. California has the unique opportunity to set an example for other states that are battling reopening protests. If Newsom decides to continue with stay-at-home orders and limit local government decision making, California can serve as proof that social distancing works.

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