MKA - McHugh Koepke & Associates Government Relations
MKA California COVID-19 Update
On Thursday, December 3, 2020, at 12:30 PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the briefing, Newsom addressed the latest increase in COVID-19 case numbers. Specifically, there were 18,591 new COVID-19 cases on December 2nd and California's seven-day average has increased to 15,121 new cases. Newsom said the effects of Thanksgiving will be felt for a few weeks – “ A surge on top of a surge.” The 14-day positivity rate is up to 7 percent. Hospitalizations and ICU patients are also continuing to trend upward in the state— a 86 percent increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and a 67 percent increase in COVID-19 ICU admissions over 14 days. The number of COVID-19 deaths is also rising. In the last 14 days, there have been 971 deaths.
"If we don’t act now, California’s hospital system will be overwhelmed and our new death rate will continue to climb," Newsom said.
To blunt the surge and save lives, Newsom announced a Regional Stay-at-Home order for California based on available hospital capacity. Regions where the ICU capacity falls below 15 percent will be placed under this order. The order will remain in effect for at least 3 weeks and, after that period, will be lifted when a region’s projected ICU capacity meets or exceeds 15 percent. This will be assessed on a weekly basis after the initial 3 week period.
Counties will be grouped by regional hospital networks, into five regions. The regions are:
- Northern California: Del Norte, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Mendocino, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou, Tehama, Trinity
- Bay Area: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Solano, Sonoma
- Greater Sacramento: Alpine, Amador, Butte, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, Sierra, Sutter, Yolo, Yuba
- San Joaquin Valley: Calaveras, Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Benito, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Tulare, Tuolumne
- Southern California: Imperial, Inyo, Los Angeles, Mono, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura
Currently, no region has been placed under the Regional Stay-at-Home Order. However, Newsom said that four of the five regions could within early December, as early as the next day or two. It is anticipated that the Bay Area will probably get there by mid-to-late December.
Under this Regional Stay-at-Home Order, bars, wineries, hair salons/barbershops, and other personal services will close. The state will also restrict statewide nonessential travel for affected regions. Sectors that will remain open when a region is placed into the Regional Stay-At-Home, include: Schools that are already open; critical infrastructure; retail (20 percent capacity to reduce exposure; restaurants (take-out and delivery). The Governor also said its important to stay active and connected during these times. He encouraged Californians to get outdoors by walking their dog, going on a run, doing yoga, etc.
Newsom said the state is doing everything in its power to help hospitals prepare for this surge, while also supporting businesses and workers impacted.
He noted that California has 11 surge facilities throughout the state, and also PPE inventory is in the millions for N95 and surgical masks, face shields, gloves, gowns, etc. In terms of ventilators, the state has 14,233 available in state inventory and 6,996 still available in hospitals.
The Governor acknowledged this new stay-at-home order will hurt small businesses. He then recapped relief efforts businesses, including tax deferrals, an emergency relief package, and an increased California Rebuilding Fund. Also, he said his Administration will be working with the Legislature to do more, including waving fees for heavily impacted industries. He also spoke to supports for workers. The Governor also summarized housing efforts including the evictions moratorium, project Roomkey, Housing for Harvest, and hotel rooms for healthcare works.
Newsom also noted that this is not a permanent state. He proclaimed, “help is on the way.” A vaccine is coming – with first doses arriving in the next few weeks. The state has "sub-prioritized" the 327,000 doses that will arrive first into 3 tiers for Plan 1-A, as follows:
- Acute care, psychiatric and correctional facility hospitals
- Skilled nursing facilities, assisted living facilities, and similar settings for older or medically vulnerable
- Paramedics, EMTs and others providing emergency medical services
- Dialysis centers
- Intermediate care facilities
- Home healthcare & supportive services
- Community health workers
- Public health field staff
- Primary Care clinics, including
Rural Health Centers, correctional facility clinics and urgent care clinics
Tier 3: Other settings and health care workers, including:
- Specialty clinics
- Laboratory workers
- Dental / oral health clinics
- Pharmacy staff not working in settings at higher tiers
The 327k doses will be distributed through 6 regions in California. Here are the doses per region:
Region I: 126,750
Region II: 80,497
Region III: 8,592
Region IV: 35,145
Region V: 16,706
Region VI: 59,910
Tomorrow these regions will make orders directly to Pfizer based on prioritizations of the 3 tiers.
Newsom said transparency, equity, and safety will continue to be the state’s top priorities as California begins the vaccine distribution process for Phase 1. The state will be watching to ensure that wealthy people do not jump the line and get vaccines ahead of front-line workers.
In closing, Newsom said, "This is the most dangerous moment of the pandemic so far. All of us will be rewarded knowing we saved the lives of loved ones and saved the lives of strangers."
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom was asked more about this new Regional Stay-at-Home order. Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, responded by reiterating that the evidence shows this is a tool that can be successful.
When asked about enforcement, Newsom said he has been in conversations with the California State Association of Counties (CSAC). He said his team is seeing “overwhelming support for enforcement.” Again reiterates California does not want to penalize counties or the public for violating rules but instead, convince people to follow guidelines. Newsom said a "very small number of people now are in total denial."
Regarding holiday travel – "We're asking people to stay at home," Dr Ghaly said. He also said more guidance will be issued. Despite the voluntary nature of the travel advisory, he believes it has made a difference.
"I'm doing my job, I'll continue to do my job. That's what I have to do," Newsom said when asked a question of how he'll earn back trust following the French Laundry incident.
The briefing concluded at approximately 2:00 p.m. PDT.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There is now a total of 1,245,948 (+1.7 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 19,324 (+0.3 percent) deaths in California. As of November 15thth, there have been 24,299,126 tests conducted in California and reported to the California Department of Public Health. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
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