On March 26, the US replaced China as the country with the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases. A month later, the threat still shows no sign of abating, with figures surging to 787,752 nationwide.
While California responded to the coronavirus threat relatively quickly, it still recorded 30,978 positive cases as of April 19 with 1,208 deaths. Mortality rate is at a relatively low 3.8% as compared with the hardest hit state, New York, with
253,311 cases and 18,653 deaths (7.3%). Both states had reported about the same number of coronavirus cases in the first week of March, according to the COVID Tracking Project, but California has managed to successfully “bend the curve.”
From the outset, California took extraordinary steps to slow the spread of the coronavirus, including putting in place as early as March 19 a statewide mandatory restriction requiring California’s nearly 40 million residents to stay home.
Not opening soon
Even two-and-a-half months after the first cases were detected in Southern California, the Golden State continues to take a cautious approach.
While he notes President Trump’s urgency to restart the economy, California Gov. Newsom wants to see hospitalization figures decline first. He feels the need to build up capacity for testing and put better protection measures in place for the elderly and vulnerable before considering less restrictive ones overall.
The new normal
Wearing face coverings will continue to be a feature of public life. Large gatherings will be unlikely and, come fall, students will need to attend school online or in shifts to avoid crowded classrooms.
By all accounts, California has been better equipped to handle COVID-19 than other states. For one thing, there’s a work-from-home culture at many companies, spurred mainly by the tech industry.
A dry and sunny February shortly after the outbreak came to light also proved to be fortuitous—it lured people away from crowded indoor spaces to the outdoors.
In addition, the state’s experience with natural disasters has allowed for the establishment of efficient measures to handle disasters. And its population is used to following orders during times of calamity.
Then there’s the state’s solitary car culture and dearth of public transportation. These, as well as widely-spread-out suburban neighborhoods have meant a lower probability for transmission that has played a role in keeping the disease from spreading easily.
While the authorities look for ways to open up the economy, they’re seeking to better understand the dynamics of spread. This will help them to avoid a wide-scale deadly second wave of the disease. California appears to be on the right track: efforts have thus far been bold and controversial but appear to be working.
Meanwhile, the real estate market in the state remains cautiously upbeat. With fewer sellers out there, buyers of California real estate are more likely to find good deals. Mortgage rates have hit an all-time low of just 3.13%, so buyers can enjoy significant cost savings. But just how long a market that favors buyers will last in an area as resilient as California is anyone’s guess.
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