On Tuesday, December 15, 2020, at 10:00 am PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the start of the briefing, Newsom discussed the distribution of the vaccine and the plans to administer it to the Phase 1A people who include healthcare workers and residents in long-term care settings. He further discussed the meetings taking place this week to talk about the folks who may be included in Phase 1B. He specifically mentioned people being considered include teachers, farm workers and grocery store employees.
Newsom also addressed the latest spike in COVID-19 case numbers. Specifically, there were 32,326 new COVID-19 cases on December 14th and the 14-day positivity rate has climbed to 10.7 percent. Hospitalizations and ICU patient figures also continue to trend upward in the state— a 68 percent increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and a 54 percent increase in COVID-19 ICU admissions over the last 14 days.
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.
Below is the current available ICU capacity by region.
- Bay Area 15.8%
- Greater Sacramento 14.9%
- Northern California 29.8%
- San Joaquin Valley 1.6%
- Southern California 1.7%
The Governor further noted that the statewide ICU capacity rate is 5.7% and there is a great need for additional healthcare workers to work in California’s healthcare facilities. He noted recent emergency regulations to change the nurse to patient staffing ratios from 1:2 to 1:3 to try to address the surge of hospitalizations as an example of efforts being made to address capacity issues.
The Governor also discussed plans to deal with the number of deaths and highlighted that in November the average 7-day death rate was 41 and now in December the average 7-day death rate is 163.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services, was also present at the briefing and gave brief remarks. He spoke about the importance of people wearing a mask and being really careful about congregating during the holidays. He expressed concerns about people being A-symptomatic and unknowingly getting their loved ones sick.
Regarding a vaccine – yesterday, Newsom joined Kaiser Permanente Los Angeles Medical Center, one of the first locations in the state to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, as first doses were administered. His Administration also launched “Vaccinate All 58”, California’s campaign for a safe, fair and equitable vaccine for all 58 counties in the state. As noted in a Governor’s office press release, “California is determining its distribution guidelines in an open and equitable fashion as initial vaccine supplies will be very limited. At first, vaccines will be provided to health care workers and those in long-term care settings in accordance with the CDPH Allocation Guidelines for COVID-19 Vaccine During Phase 1A.”
During the Q&A the Governor was asked a number of questions about the administering of the vaccine and who will be considered a priority. He indicated that the decision will be made at the state level and it will be a result of very thoughtful and deliberative discussions in the coming weeks.
In closing, the Governor reiterated the importance of wearing a mask and being safe during the holidays. He highlight that there is light at the end of the tunnel but we are still currently in the tunnel.
The briefing concluded at approximately 11:45 a.m. PDT.
On December 14th, Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order addressing a variety of issues in response to the pandemic, including extending the availability of housing for migrant agricultural workers, providing a 90-day extension on tax returns and tax payments for small businesses and updating Cal/OSHA requirements related to quarantine guidelines. The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There is now a total of 1,585,044 (+2.1 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 21,046 (+0.4 percent) deaths in California. As of December 14th, there have been 27,552,039 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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