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San Jose mayor says large gatherings 'are not realistic' until 2021

·Anchor/Reporter
·3 min read
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Businesses across the country may slowly begin to resume operations in the weeks and months ahead, but don’t expect large conferences or sporting events to return until next year, at least in California’s Bay Area.

Speaking to Yahoo Finance, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said the idea of large gatherings of people is “not realistic” until 2021 in the absence of wide scale testing and a vaccine for COVID-19.

“I’m telling folks who are promoting events in the summer and the fall, I wouldn’t invest any money in those right now,” Liccardo said. “We could be in it for the long haul with those kinds of events.”

The assessment from the mayor of California’s third-largest city echoes that of leaders across the state. Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled a detailed six-point roadmap to modifying the state’s stay-at-home order, saying mass gatherings would be “negligible at best” without herd immunity.

"Large-scale events that bring in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of strangers all together across every conceivable difference, health and otherwise, is not in the cards based upon our current guidelines and current expectations," he said.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti confirmed his city is also unlikely to authorize events such as sports, concerts, and movie premiers until 2021.

“We’ve got many, many miles to walk before we’re going to be back in those environments,” he said.

The cautious timeline comes amid a national debate over how and when to reopen the economy without exacerbating the coronavirus outbreak. President Donald Trump has called for Americans to return to their workplaces as quickly as possible, fueling anti-government protests from Washington to Michigan, demanding governors ease stay-at-home restrictions. Demonstrators say widespread closures are unnecessarily hurting businesses and citizens, while others counter premature reopenings could lead to a second wave of infections that aggravate a health care system that is already overwhelmed.

This March 27, 2020 photo provided by the California Army National Guard shows Sgt. Jose A. Magana, left, and Pfc. Michael Daggi of the California National Guard's Medical Detachment instructing California Emergency Medical Service Authority (EMSA) staff members on properly removing personal protective equipment at a San Mateo County COVID-19 treatment facility in Burlingame, Calif. Cal Guard's medical teams are actively assisting local and state agencies contain the coronavirus epidemic. This treatment facility houses patients who tested positive for COVID-19. (Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Army National Guard via AP))
This March 27, 2020 photo provided by the California Army National Guard shows a treatment facility that houses patients who tested positive for COVID-19. (Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Army National Guard via AP))

“We need a national coordinated effort”

San Jose, one of the first cities in the country to implement strict stay-at-home measures, has seen the number of coronavirus cases stabilize, with 1,277 infections as of Tuesday morning. But, a recent antibody test revealed the number of infections in Santa Clara County may be much higher than initial estimates. Liccardo said his city did not have sufficient testing to determine how safe any reopening would be, but added that he is urging health care officials “to give us a target, give us a goal.”

“I’m not looking for government intervention in a lot of parts of this economy but I think we all recognize our testing isn’t there, and it’s really going to take a strong federal effort to get it there,” Liccardo said. “It shouldn’t be up to mayors, really, trying to figure out who the contacts are in South Korea or Taiwan to get a few thousand tests. We need a national coordinated effort.”

Still, Liccardo is working with local business leaders, including Silicon Valley executives to draw up plans to reopen the economy, whenever that may be. Last week, he formed a new task force, the Silicon Valley Economic Recovery and Resilience Council, co-chaired by Cisco (CSCO) CEO Chuck Robbins and AMD (AMD) CEO Lisa Lu, along with nonprofits and trade groups.

One out of every seven residents in California, including 200,000 in Silicon Valley, has lost a job over the past month, adding urgency to Liccardo’s economic recovery efforts.

Akiko Fujita is an anchor and reporter for Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @AkikoFujita