MKA California COVID-19 Update
On Monday, December 7, 2020, at 9:30 am PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The briefing was held earlier than normal given the Legislative swearing-in session taking place later today.
At the start of the briefing, Newsom unveiled the ‘CA Notify’ – a new app allowing Apple and Google smartphone users to opt-in to COVID-19 exposure notifications letting them know when they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. Newsom promised that the app is 100 percent private and secure; 100 percent opt-in; and does not track location. CA Notify launches Thursday, December 10th. The initial pilot for this tool started in September at UC campuses. Additional information can be found here: https://canotify.ca.gov/.
Newsom also addressed the latest spike in COVID-19 case numbers. Specifically, there were 24,735 new COVID-19 cases on December 6th and California's seven-day average has increased to 21,924 new cases. The 14-day positivity rate has climbed to 8.4 percent. The rate of positive tests has increased to 10.5 percent in the past week, surpassing the levels of the summer surge. Hospitalizations and ICU patient figures also continuing to trend upward in the state— a 72 percent increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and a 69 percent increase in COVID-19 ICU admissions over the last 14 days. Hospitals are cutting back on elective surgeries as coronavirus patients pour in, Newsom said.
Recall, the Regional Stay Home Order (PDF), announced December 3, 2020, will go into effect at 11:59 PM the day after a region has been announced to have less than 15% ICU availability. Over the weekend, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced two regions – San Joaquin Valley and Southern California – dropped below the 15% capacity. The Regional Stay at Home Order took effect in those two regions at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday and will remain in effect for at least three weeks. Regions will be eligible to exit from the order and return to the Blueprint for a Safer Economy on December 28th if ICU capacity projections for the following month are above or equal to 15%.
Also, it should be noted that six Bay Area jurisdictions decided to enact the order ahead of the state edict. The regional action will apply in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties, and the city of Berkeley.
Below is the current available ICU capacity by region.
- Bay Area 25.7%
- Greater Sacramento 20.3%
- Northern California 28.2%
- San Joaquin Valley 6.3%
- Southern California 10.9%
The Governor further noted that staffing remains the number one issue as we take on the latest COVID-19 surge. He then highlighted some examples of what the state is doing to address this concern including contracting staffing agencies and requesting federal assistance. California is also expanding a program to care for COVID-19 patients who need oxygen support from their homes. The state is also training more nurses to work in ICUs through a 2-day training program. Finally, Newsom reminded Californians that the state is actively trying to onboard additional individuals (who may have expired licenses or be retired or are not currently working) for the California Health Corps.
Regarding a vaccine update, California successfully submitted first order last Friday (part of the initial 327k) and the anticipated delivery is around December 15th. First doses will go to facilities that will vaccinate their high-risk healthcare workers. Community Vaccine Advisory Committee meets on Wednesday to discuss Phase 1b allocation. The meeting is open to the public. The total number of vaccine doses California is anticipating in December, Newsom said, is 2.16 million. The vaccines will require two doses.
Newsom then went over the six steps of the vaccine process for California. He also provided information regarding new public education campaign efforts, including billboards and PSAs.
In closing, the Governor introduced Tomas Aragón, San Francisco’s public health officer, who has been appointed as the Director of the California Department of Public Health. This comes four months after Dr. Sonia Angell resigned.
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom was asked more about the CA Notify app and whether or not it will be effective given the opt-in nature of the tool. The Governor responded by simply stating that he believes enough individuals will opt-in to make it meaningful.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services, reiterated that the Thanksgiving-related surge continues to show up in the COVID-19 data.
On schools and education, Newsom punted on specific questions regarding inequity. He simply rehashed past efforts his Administration has undertaken to reopen schools and noted that a lot of decisions around in-person instruction are happening at the local level.
The briefing concluded at approximately 11:00 a.m. PDT.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There is now a total of 1,341,700 (+2.3 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 19,876 (+0.4 percent) deaths in California. As of November 15thth, there have been 25,195,046 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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