On Monday, June 15th, at noon PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom held a press briefing to provide an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Newsom began by stating California remains focused on mitigating the spread of COVID-19. “We are by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods. We still have a lot of work to do,” he said.
He then addressed California’s reopening approach using a slide deck. One of the slides noted that the state is not using an on/off switch but rather a dimmer based on science and data. Today, Newsom again reiterated the idea that the state develops guidelines for reopening, but does not prescribe when counties adopt this guidance. Counties should make data-informed decisions for reopening.
On testing, Newsom’s slide (see below) showed that testing has increased, but the positivity rate has dropped. Specifically, in early April, the positivity rate averaged 40.8 percent. In the last fourteen days, the positivity rate has been 4.5 percent.
Newsom continued by stating that the spread rate of COVID-19 and the COVID-19 hospitalization trendlines remain stable even after risky dates like Memorial Day. Based on current capacity figures, Newsom believes California can absorb a surge in patients. He also reported that California has 11,652 ventilators within the hospital system and in the state's cache. The state is also growing contract tracing capacity.
On county variance, Newsom said California is monitoring and supporting counties. Specifically, he stated, "We actively monitor all 58 counties and target engagement in areas where numbers are a bit concerning. Right now we have targeted engagement in 13 counties. We're providing human and physical resources." California Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly was also present at the briefing and offered additional details about county variance. Dr. Ghaly listed the seven counties that for three consecutive days have continued areas of concern. Those counties are Fresno, Imperial, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, San Joaquin, and Tulare.
As an update, Newsom said that 52 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 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 and more counties to meet the necessary thresholds. A list of these counties is available here.
Finally, Newsom provided an update on efforts to support vulnerable populations, including Project Roomkey. He said of the 15,638 hotel rooms that have been acquired for homeless individuals, 66 percent are occupied. Of those, 82 percent are occupied by asymptomatic people and 17 percent by positive patients.
In closing, Newsom reiterated that the 1918 Flu pandemic reminds us to be cautious, wear a face mask, physically distance, and wash our hands. "We don't want to experience a second wave, as they experienced in 1918," he said, referring to the devastating outbreak. He stressed the pandemic has not gone away.
During the Q&A portion of the press briefing, Newsom was asked about reopening and whether he put the economy ahead of public health. He defended his actions and cited that counties are making the decisions regarding when/which activities are permitted. However, he did acknowledge there were other factors considered by the state when issuing guidance. “You cannot be in a permanent state where people are locked away for months,” Newsom said. He noted that the stay-at-home order's negative effects on mental health and the economy became health issues as well.
Newsom was also asked if the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH), better known as Cal/OSHA, will be sent to factories as reopening continues. In response, he largely deferred to the leadership of Cal/OSHA to make those decisions.
On the budget, despite no deal yet with Legislature, Newsom said he remains confident that something will happen at the federal level to help mitigate the impact of cuts at the state level.
The press briefing concluded around 1:00 PM PDT.
On Friday, June 12th, the CDPH released guidance for expanded personal services for counties with attestations, which includes personal care that requires touching a client's face, e.g. facials, electrolysis, and waxing. This guidance also applies to esthetician, skin care, and cosmetology services; electrology; nail salons; body art professionals, tattoo parlors, and piercing shops; and massage therapy (in non-healthcare settings). The CDPH also released updated guidance for places of worship, providers of religious services and cultural ceremonies, and corresponding direction for other constitutionally protected activities, such as the right to protest. A copy of the CDPH news release can be found here.
CDPH also announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There are now a total of 148,855 (+2.2 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 5,063 deaths (+1.5 percent increase) in California. As of June 13th, 2,801,996 tests have been conducted in California and reported to the CDPH. This represents an increase of 77,603 tests over the prior 24-hour reporting period. Also, as of June 13th, local health departments have reported 12,173 confirmed positive cases in health care workers and 73 deaths statewide. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
Additional information regarding open sectors in counties with variance can be found here.
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