By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Is it politics or is California’s coronavirus situation indeed improving enough so that the regional stay-at home order can be lifted?

Gov. Gavin Newsom insisted Monday that the decision to lift the regional stay-at-home order was based on scientific projections of future hospital demand, rather than the looming possibility of a recall campaign.

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Newsom pointed to the state’s current projections that estimate Southern California ICU capacity will reach 33.3% by Feb. 21, a four-week projection. The region’s current capacity is still estimated at 0%, but Newsom said the future projection is based on current hospital capacity, transmission rates, case rates and the proportion of COVID patients who need to be admitted to the ICU. According to Newsom, that combination of factors is a forecast on where the state will be in a number of weeks, not to mention the fact that vaccines have been distributed to healthcare workers and have been opened up to seniors.

However, his Republican critics don’t see things the same way. Citing the recall campaign that’s gaining steam, California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson said bluntly that the decision to lift the regional stay-at-home order was an obvious ploy to counter the recall movement.

“This governor’s decisions have never been based on science. Him re-opening our state is not an attempt to help working Californians, but rather an attempt to counter the Recall Movement. It’s sad and pathetic,” Patterson tweeted.

Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who is exploring a possible gubernatorial campaign, had a similarly sharp response.

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“A new day, a new erratic COVID rule,” Faulconer tweeted.

To be clear, the lifting of the stay-at-home order does not mean a full reopening of the state’s businesses, but instead means a return to the state’s tiered schedule of reopening. All of the counties in Southern California are now back in the purple tier, the strictest phase of reopening, but one that will still allow for outdoor dining, worship services, hair and nail salons and increased capacity at retailers.

Newsom dismissed the idea that it was politics driving the decision to lift the stay-at-home order in his Monday coronavirus briefing.

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“That’s just complete, utter nonsense, so let’s just dispense with that fundamental and foundational nonsense,” Newsom said.