On Friday, May 22nd, at noon PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press briefing at the Veterans Home of California-Yountville (VHC-Yountville). With Memorial Day coming, his opening remarks were focused on those who served and veterans affairs programs. Newsom also shared a personal story. His grandfather was a prisoner of war for nearly five years who eventually took his own life after returning home.
Vito Imbasciani MD, Secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), joined Newsom at the briefing. He highlighted that there has been a robust plan in place to contain the spread of the virus at veterans homes. More specifically, Dr. Imbasciani stated, “There are eight veterans homes throughout the state. They all shut down visits about two weeks before the state declared a shelter-in-place emergency. I'm delighted that we've had such success in protecting the wonderful men and women who are our connection to our past."
Shifting gears, Newsom said that 43 of 58 California counties have provided "self-attestation" plans to reopen. Recall, the Governor’s administration outlined a process where counties who met specific criteria can move further ahead in Stage 2 of the resilience roadmap. On May 18th, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) revised the COVID-19 County Variance Attestation Form. The revision has allowed more counties to meet the necessary thresholds. A list of these counties is available here.
Also, Newsom has been working with the interfaith community to find ways to keep parishioners safe. He said the state is "days away" from putting out guidelines on churches, likely on Monday. Notably, California has been under pressure from the U.S. Justice Department to allow religious services to resume.
As he does regularly, Newsom provided the latest COVID-19 hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) patient figures. He reported that there are 3,048 positive COVID-19 hospital patients. This figure remained stable over the previous day. Of those patients, 1,051 are in the ICU. The ICU figure represents a 1.6 percent decrease. On these trendlines, Newsom said it's not just stability anymore— "We are actually seeing declines." Over seven days, there has been an 8 percent decrease in overall hospitalizations, with a 6 percent decrease in ICU patients.
Additionally, Newsom spoke about California’s tracing efforts. This morning, just prior to Newsom’s press briefing, his office issued a news release announcing the launch of California Connected, the state’s comprehensive contact tracing program and public awareness campaign. Specifically, the release states, “As part of California Connected, public health workers from communities across the state will connect with individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and work with them, and people they have been in close contact with, to ensure they have access to confidential testing, as well as medical care and other services to help prevent the spread of the virus.” A copy of the release can be found here.
On personal protective equipment (PPE) distribution, Newsom noted that over 86 million surgical masks have come into the state. The masks are going to nursing homes, grocery stores, and other sectors that are reopening.
Also, during the Q&A portion of the press briefing, Newsom was asked about casinos and card rooms reopening. He said anticipate guidance around June 8th. He also acknowledged that Tribes are working collaboratively with the state on these efforts.
Newsom was also asked about Republican congressional candidate Darrell Issa suing to block the state’s move to an all-mail November election. In response, he said California is on “firm legal ground” as it relates to this issue.
On the state budget and Assembly Budget Chairman Phil Ting’s comments regarding the need for oversight – Newsom insisted he has been engaging lawmakers and looks forward to continuing to do so. It should be noted that earlier today, Ting kicked off his budget subcommittee hearing by echoing the Legislature's concerns that Newsom's administration is not collaborating with them as it should on COVID-19 response.
On summer school/camps, Newsom conveyed guidelines are coming for this also. This updated guidance should be released within “a week or so.” He is working "aggressively" to deliver on this one, as his own kids have also asked this question.
The press briefing concluded at 1:02 PM PDT.
Yesterday, May 21st, the Employment Development Department (EDD) announced that $3.9 billion in unemployment benefits was paid to California workers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic last week. This brings the total to $16.1 billion since a surge in demand for unemployment assistance began during the week ending on March 14th. According to the latest data from EDD, a total of 5.1 million claims have been processed over that same timeframe. A copy of the EDD news release can be found here.
Earlier this week, the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) has posted a Question and Answer page regarding Newsom’s Executive Order N-62-20, which provides that under certain circumstances it is presumed that workers who contract a COVID-19-related illness between March 19 and July 5, 2020 have done so at work and are thus eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. A copy of the Q&A can be found here.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There are now a total of 86,197 (+2.5 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 3,542 deaths (+3.1 percent increase) in California. As of May 20th, 1,421,127 tests have been conducted in California and reported to the CDPH. This represents an increase of 41,007 tests over the prior 24-hour reporting period. Also, as of May 20th, local health departments have reported 8,793 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 47 deaths statewide. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
The https://www.covid19.ca.gov/ website is being updated continuously. A complete list of the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts here.
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