On Thursday, July 2nd, at noon PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press briefing to provide an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just prior to the start of the briefing, the California Department of Public Health Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Sonia Angell issued a statement warning Californians not to gather with family, friends and loved ones this Fourth of July weekend to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in our communities. “Any public or private events this weekend that include people who do not live together in the same household should not happen. This includes family get-togethers.” A copy of the statement can be found here.
Newsom’s opening remarks were focused on the importance of wearing a mask. Recall, on June 18th, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) issued Guidance on the Use of Face Coverings, which broadly requires the use of face coverings in California when in public or common spaces.
As depicted below, Newsom said, “When you cough, droplets go about six feet. If you take a big exhale, it's 4.5 feet. But if you sneeze, it's 26 feet. Masks mitigate the spread of droplets and keep us all healthier.”
Newsom then announced a new public awareness campaign, that he said is much more comprehensive and dynamic to encourage people to wear masks and mitigate the spread of the virus. The public service announcements (PSAs) will be in English, Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese, and Spanish. Additionally, the campaign will utilize radio, television, billboards and social media. Thus far, $10.75 million has been raised for the campaign and over $20 million in in-kind contributions.
Newsom offered a preview of the campaign by playing an unsettling ad with a person struggling to breathe on a ventilator while text warns "People can die. People like your mom. People like your grandpa." The entire ad was also posted on Twitter (@CAgovernor) and can be found here.
Additionally, the Governor reported that several jurisdictions are issuing local orders to follow state guidelines ahead of the holiday weekend. “We expect all 19 counties to come into compliance, and if not, our hand will be forced in the spirit this moment requires. We've also seen great actions from Orange, Los Angeles, and Ventura County to close beaches over the weekend and making other local decisions.”
As he does regularly, Newsom addressed the latest COVID-19 numbers, including the COVID-19 hospitalization and intensive care unit (ICU) patient figures. There are 5,196 positive COVID-19 hospital patients. Of those patients, 1,416 are in the ICU. Hospitalizations have increased 56 percent over two weeks. The ICU figure represents a 49 percent increase in the last 14 days. Further, Newsom noted that as testing increases, the positivity rate is becoming more important. The 14-day positivity average is over 6.3 percent. The data shows the state’s healthcare system has available capacity—COVID-19 patients are filling 16 percent of the state’s ICU capacity. California has 11,480 available ventilators.
In closing, Newsom implored Californians once more to avoid crowds over the Fourth of July weekend. Further, he said, "Counties with mandatory closures should consider canceling firework shows. Many cities have already done this, or are requiring people to watch them from their cars. And Californians shouldn't gather with people they don't live with." He also urged everyone to wear a face covering, practice physical distancing, and wash your hands.
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom was asked why the onus has been put on businesses, rather than individuals, to enforce COVID-19 restrictions. In response, he said that the onus is not entirely on businesses – "We are making $2.5 billion for local governments contingent on whether they enforce. By definition, that transcends just the business sector. We have enforcement teams going out in six different regions.” In fact, Newsom was repeatedly asked about enforcement or rather lack thereof.
Newsom was also asked why places such as fitness centers and churches are still allowed to be open in counties that are on the county monitoring list. He said that while these sectors are allowed to stay open, the guidelines for those establishments have been updated. As it related to casinos, Newsom said his administration has spoken with sovereign tribal nations.
Regarding the California Highway Patrol (CHP) issuing permits this weekend for a 300-person demonstration and some weddings and whether that causes mixed messaging – the Governor said he is not familiar with the specific permits. He turned to California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) Director Mark Ghilarducci, who stated: “We have been trying to provide the opportunity for people to protest. CHP is looking at how it can be done safely, taking into account the Governor's order, and physical distancing. We're trying to balance it with safety and security.”
The briefing concluded approximately at 12:55 PM PDT.
Yesterday, July 1st, Newsom and the CDPH released guidance directing counties that have been on the County Monitoring List for three consecutive days or more to close indoor operations for certain sectors which promote the mixing of populations beyond households and make adherence to physical distancing and wearing face coverings difficult. The guidance applies for a minimum of three weeks and is subject to an extension based on epidemiologic indicators. The sectors include: indoor dine-in restaurants; indoor wineries and tasting rooms; indoor family entertainment centers; indoor movie theaters; indoor zoos and museums; and indoor cardrooms. A copy of the CDPH news release can be found here.
The CDPH has also announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There are now a total of 232,657 confirmed positive cases and 6,090 deaths in California. As of June 30th, there have been 4,254,176 tests conducted in California and reported to the California Department of Public Health. This represents an increase of 87,037 tests over the prior 24-hour reporting period. Also, as of June 30th, local health departments have reported 15,145 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 91 deaths statewide. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
On June 30th, Newsom visited a Project Roomkey motel in Pittsburg, Contra Costa County to highlight the progress that the state and counties have made in providing isolation capacity to protect people experiencing homelessness from COVID-19 and to launch Project Homekey, the next phase in the state’s effort to protect vulnerable homeless Californians from the pandemic. A copy of the Governor’s office news release can be found here.
In addition, Newsom issued an executive order extending authorization for local governments to halt evictions for renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through September 30th. The order also addresses a variety of other issues in response to the pandemic. The text of the Governor’s executive order can be found here and a copy can be found here. The Governor’s office news release can be found here.
On June 28th, the CDPH and California Governor Gavin Newsom released guidance on the closure of bars for counties on the County Monitoring List. The Department recommends that counties on the list for three or more consecutive days, but less than 14 days, close bars through local health officer order (or do not allow for the opening if bars have not yet been allowed to open in the county). Counties which have been on the list for 14 days or more are required to immediately close bars. A copy of the CDPH press release can be found here.
On June 25th, Newsom released tools, technology, and data that will allow scientists, researchers, technologists, and all Californians to better understand the impact of COVID-19. This includes the California COVID Assessment Tool, or CalCAT, a “model of models” that contains assessments of the spread of COVID-19, short-term forecasts of disease trends, and scenarios of the course of the disease from modeling groups across the country. More information about the California COVID Assessment Tool can be found here. A copy of the Governor’s news release can be found here.
The https://www.covid19.ca.gov/ website is being updated continuously. Additional information regarding open sectors in counties with variance can be found here. A complete list of the state’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts can be found here.
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