Gov. Newsom says state has masks for retail workers, CA businesses are getting more loans

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom updated the public Tuesday on the novel coronavirus in California and how the state is allowing businesses to slowly reopen.

From a small business in Sacramento, Gov. Newsom said the state has secured more than 19 million cloth masks that are ready to distribute around the state. In the past, they've mostly been sent to front-line health care workers, but will now be going to more grocery, retail and transit workers as more sectors of the economy are allowed to reopen.

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He also acknowledged another area of concern for many small business owners: loans from the federal Small Business Administration. On that front, the governor had a bit of good news. In the first round of PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loans, California businesses received $34 billion in funding - an amount Newsom said was disproportionately small to the size of California's economy. In the second round of PPP loans, being distributed now, California businesses have already received $33.2 billion. Newsom said only 60% of the loans have been granted so far, so more was likely on the way to businesses in the state.

Newsom was joined at the store, Display California, by Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

"It is not a question of if, it is not a question of when, it is a question of how. How we go about reopening will define whether or not we can move with effectiveness to the next stages and open up more or whether or not we are going to have to a small step, a medium step, or - in the worst case - a large step backward and keep the economy closed longer," said Mayor Steinberg.

The governor announced Monday that the next stage of reopening California's economy will begin Friday. As we get closer day-by-day to that next stage, anticipation is building. The safety and hygiene protocols that businesses need to follow in order to reopen won't be released until Thursday.

READ THE FULL STORY: Phase 2 of reopening CA businesses starts Friday, Gov. Newsom says

Some businesses included in the state's "Stage 2" of reopening will be allowed to resume operations starting Friday, May 8, including bookstores, clothing stores, toy stores, florists and others. Associated manufacturers that support those retail supply chains will also be allowed to resume production. Those businesses will be allowed to reopen for curbside pickup.

At this time, office buildings, dine-in restaurants and shopping malls will not be allowed to reopen.

When asked Tuesday about businesses that were defying state orders and reopening ahead of schedule, like a few barber shops around the state, Newsom said they were making a mistake and putting the state's progress on containing the virus at risk.

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Newsom emphasized that local officials still have the authority to accelerate or slow down reopening at the county level.

"We are not telling locals that believe it's too soon, too fast to modify. We believe those local communities that have separate timelines should be afforded the capacity to advance those timelines," he said, citing the Bay Area's "stricter guidelines."

"If they choose not to come into compliance with the state guidelines, they have that right," the governor said.

As of Tuesday morning, the state was reporting 54,937 known cases of COVID-19 and 2,254 fatalities.

In addition to his noon briefing, Gov. Newsom will also be hosting a virtual roundtable discussion with manufacturing workers and business owners to talk about the second stage of reopening at 2:15 p.m.

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