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UCSF doctor says California’s early action against COVID-19 saved thousands of lives

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SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — California’s early action against the coronavirus pandemic may have saved thousands of lives.

That’s according to a UCSF doctor who says both government and business leaders took the right steps.

From the Grand Princess cruise ship docked in the Bay – carrying COVID-19 patients last month, to Facebook cancelling its conference in February – were signals to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously.

“People are looking to California as a success story and seeing what it is that we did to see what has worked,” Dr. Bob Wachter, chair of UCSF’s Department of Medicine, said.

Wachter has been vocal about California showing early signs of flattening the curve.

“The early rules and policies that came from our department of public health, our mayors and our governor, early warnings from big companies telling people we should work from home,” he said. “The fact that everyone listened and took it seriously even though we haven’t seen many cases here, we believe it, we believe the science, we’re going to stay at home and do the right thing.”

It’s been almost three weeks since Governor Gavin Newsom issued the first statewide stay at home mandate in the country.

In his daily briefing, Gov. Newsom described a steady but slow growth in COVID-19 cases in the state.

He also talked about securing supplies like N95 masks and ventilators.

But as of Wednesday, the governor announced the highest death rate in the state and a plea to take the coronavirus seriously.

“It depends on you and the 40 million others and their commitment to following through on the stay at home orders,” Newsom said. “Their commitment to having appropriate face coverings if they cannot practice physical distancing.”

It’s the message public health officials and leaders have been echoing.

Santa Clara County was first hit with COVID-19 in the Bay Area and saw early signs of community spread that led to aggressive restrictions.

“This was a pretty bold thing to do but in retrospect this is a decision that saved thousands of lives,” Wachter said.

Dr. Wachter says it’s not a time to declare victory, the virus is still in the community and people need to continue to follow stay at home orders.

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