With Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandatory stay-at-home order to confront the coronavirus plague, think of the state of California as a pugilist adopting the rope-a-dope strategy. Newsom’s plan for people to dispel COVID-19’s power by staying at home until the virus’s strength dissipates makes sense.

Made famous by heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali, the rope-a-dope strategy has a boxer take a defensive posture to avoid a serious blow from an opponent, but at the same time the opponent loses energy with unsuccessful punches allowing the pugilist to strike back in later rounds to win.

Newsom’s goal for his stay-at-home plan is to reduce contacts that could spread the virus thus not allowing COVID-19 to overwhelm the health care system; the necessary staffing, the equipment and the needed hospital beds.

Working off a model that says more than half the California population will be hit by the virus, the governor believes that closing down non-essential businesses and limiting people’s movements will reduce the spread of the virus and reduce the need for equipment and medical staff. Given the quick spread of the virus, such a strategy is logical.

That doesn’t mean that pugilist California won’t take some body blows in implementing the tactic.

Workers, businesses, the state’s economy and government budgets will take a big hit. The governor reached out earlier in the day with letters to President Trump and leaders of the U.S. Congress seeking assistance to help small businesses and California workers. (See CalMatters’ Judy Lin’s piece below.)

The plan is to take the blows in the early rounds but come back strong once the state withstands those hits and gains strength when the virus peters out. If that occurs, the economy should roar back to life and eventually recover. However, if the virus is allowed to swing wildly and make contact with millions of Californians it could amount to a knockout blow for the state.

As uncomfortable as it might be for people to spend weeks following a stay-at-home mandate, it is a strategy for the long term. Coupled with efforts on the federal and local government levels, it is a rational stance against the coronavirus until a stronger offensive strike, such as a treatment or a vaccine, comes along.