California Gov. Gavin Newsom relaxed his stay-at-home order on Wednesday to let hospitals resume elective surgeries, a move that will send many thousands of idled health care employees back to work as the state takes a cautious first step toward restarting the world’s fifth-largest economy. Newsom’s order took effect immediately and left it up to local governments and individual hospitals to determine how and how soon to resume elective surgeries. While only a narrow opening, it was a significant milestone because just three weeks earlier Newsom had the same hospitals preparing for a worst-case scenario that could see them overwhelmed to the point that tens of thousands of additional beds would be needed to handle the overflow of patients, the AP reports.
Cases continue to grow in California. But it’s at a manageable pace as the state’s 40 million residents live under a stay-at-home order that has closed schools, beaches, parks and most businesses. Newsom said decisions on when to more broadly reopen California will be based “first and foremost” on public health. “I wish I can prescribe a specific date to say, ‘Well, we can turn on the light switch and go back to normalcy,'” Newsom said. “We have tried to make it crystal clear that there is no light switch and there is no date in terms of our capacity to provide the kind of clarity that I know so many of you demand and deserve.”