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Calif. Gov. Newsom says state close to some reopening amid protests

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May 2 (UPI) — Amid protests to reopen, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was close to making an announcement about easing stay-at-home order in place for six weeks.

Newsom told the Los Angeles Times Friday an announcement will come soon about reopening retail, hospitality and restaurant sectors with modifications to curb COVID-19 spread.

Though polls have shown residents support Newsom’s efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus, the economic toll has sparked protests to reopen businesses.

Modoc County, a rural area in the state’s northeast with fewer than 9,000 residents, already eased stay-at-home restrictions Friday despite Newsom urging it to keep restrictions in place. County officials said businesses, schools and churches could reopen under the condition that they follow 6 feet apart social distancing. The county has not reported a single confirmed COVID-19 case yet.

“Our businesses are dying ad people need to be able to feed their children and pay their rent,” Heather Hadwick, deputy director of the county’s Office of Emergency Services said. “We’re very rural and naturally socially distanced in our everyday lives.”

Still, Newsom said he understood the difference between more rural areas and more dense urban areas.

“We hear you,” he said. “We’re paying attention to you.”

Meanwhile, there are legal battles in Orange County to challenge Newsom’s directive to close beaches.

California has the fifth highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country with 52,632 cases and 2,171 deaths, as only New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Illinois have more cases.

New York and Washington similarly remain on lockdown with firm shutdown orders in place, The New York Times noted, as several other states have lifted stay-at-home orders or plan to beginning Monday.

Pennsylvania has the sixth highest number of cases at 50,983 cases, but more deaths than California at 2,794 deaths, according to The New York Times database. It’s stay-at-home order is set to expire in recreation areas on May 8, according to the newspaper’s analysis.

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources announced Saturday a plan for phased reopening of state park and forest facilities, including opening all nine marinas in state parks to the public on May 8. State park and forest facilities will still not be open to the public until May 15.

Three public golf courses operated by private concessions already opened to the public on Friday, according to the announcement.

Michigan, which has 42,348 cases, also has more deaths than California at 3,886 deaths, along with Connecticut, which has 28,764 cases and 2,339 deaths.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer extended a stay-at-home order last month until May 15 despite protests, but eased some restrictions on boating, golfing, landscape services and plant nurseries.

Connecticut’s stay-at-home order is set to expire on May 20, but Indra Nooyi, co-chair of the state’s advisory board on reopening, said that is just the date when a reopening plan will be presented to the governor. And the advisory group said that actual reopening of non-essential businesses closed in March likely won’t be phased in until June with complete reopening taking months.

North Dakota already lifted its stay-at-home order Friday for restaurants, gyms, retail and beauty with restrictions that limit capacity to meet social distancing standards.

North Dakota has reported 1,153 COVID-19 cases and 24 deaths, according to The New York Times database.

The City of Fargo, N.D. will also reopen its public facilities on Monday with social distancing restrictions.

North Dakota was among many states that started reopening Friday with other states such as Texas, Iowa and Wyoming also easing restrictions and Oklahoma expanding its reopening with restrictions.

Some other states like Florida, Nebraska, and South Carolina will begin to ease restrictions Monday.

“We’re following the guidelines and we hope the government is guiding us in the right direction,” said Charlie Yin, who plans to open three of his four restaurants in Nebraska Monday. “I definitely think this is saving jobs.”

Alaska, Georgia and Oklahoma were among the first states to began to ease restrictions on April 24, disregarding a University of Washington model warning that no states should reopen before May 1.

New York and New Jersey have the most cases across the country. New York has 318,239 cases and 24,140 deaths, The New York Times analysis shows. New Jersey has 123,717 cases and 7,742 deaths.

Across the country, there are more than 1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 66,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins global tracker. The United States has about a third of the cases worldwide with more than 3.4 million cases and over 242,000 deaths from the virus globally.

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