On Monday, November 23, 2020, at 1:30 p.m. PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yesterday, Newsom announced that late Friday evening, he and the First Partner of California, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, learned that 3 of their children had been exposed to an officer from the California Highway Patrol who had tested positive for COVID-19. He said the entire family tested negative for the virus. However, consistent with local guidance, they will be quarantining for 14 days. As a result, Newsom conducted today’s press briefing “remotely.”
At the start of the briefing, Newsom addressed the latest COVID-19 case numbers. Specifically, there were 8,337 new COVID-19 cases on November 22nd and California's seven-day average has increased to 11,591 new cases. Newsom reported that people ages 18 - 49 make up nearly 60 percent of all cases. He also said that the state is increasing testing, which means we will see more cases. However, over the last 14 days, the positivity rate has also jumped— it is now at 5.5 percent. California was at 2.5 percent on October 19th. Notably, California is still doing better than the rest of the nation. Nationally, the positivity rate is 9.8 percent over 7 days. Finally, hospitalizations and ICU patients are continuing to trend upward in the state— a 77 percent increase in COVID-19 hospital admissions and a 55 percent increase in COVID-19 ICU admissions over 14 days. 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.
The Governor then briefly discussed the limited stay-at-home order, or curfew, where the state has ordered all non-essential activities to stop from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Recall, it applies to all purple counties and is effective through 12/21/2020. He also noted the state has issued a travel advisory.
Further, Newsom provided an update on how counties are faring under the state’s reopening framework, as follows:
PURPLE: 41 counties
- RED: 11 counties
- ORANGE: 4 counties
- YELLOW: 2 counties
**Recall, there are 4 colored tiers – widespread is purple, substantial is red, moderate is orange, and minimal is yellow.
Finally, he addressed California’s COVID-19 approach of prevention, testing, isolation, and a vaccine. Newsom provided additional detail as it related to a vaccine – noting that the state is building off existing infrastructure. He used the approximately 19 million flu vaccine doses which were given last season as an example. Also, Newsom said his Administration has been working to identify allocation priorities with limited vaccine ability. Initial groups for allocation are healthcare workers, individuals in congregate care and medically vulnerable, and medical first responders.
Today, AstraZeneca announced a third possible vaccine. Newsom reported that it is likely that FDA approval of one or more of the vaccines will come in early December. However, mass distribution is still a ways off, he said.
More regarding California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan, three groups are working toward vaccine distributing and planning including a Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, Drafting Guidelines Workgroup, and Community Advisory Vaccine Committee. The Scientific Safety Review Workgroup has reviewed Phase I and II study data on both vaccines and thus far has no concerns. Members hope to access Phase III data close to when the FDA and CDC receive information to expedite review and avoid any delay. The Drafting Guidelines Workgroup meets every Friday, and they are developing detailed guidance for Phase 1a. The Community Advisory Vaccine Committee brings together diverse community groups, school leaders, nonprofits, and more to advise on distribution and allocation.
Newsom also stated that California has had direct engagement with both Pzifer and McKesson (distributor of the Moderna vaccine). The vaccine will ship directly to providers.
In terms of the COVID-19 Vaccine Plan Budget, Newsom said the state has received $28 million from the CDC for planning and staffing. The CDC is expected to release a second round of funding soon. Additional funding will be needed for a COVID-19 vaccine campaign including media; supplies and materials needed to support distribution such as PPE; and IT systems/data management. Newsom said the state is already working on a public information campaign about the vaccines.
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the state's Health and Human Services secretary, was also provided some remarks. He spoke regarding Thanksgiving gatherings. "Our hospitals are seeing a surge that they've never seen before," Ghaly said. He encouraged people to celebrate with their own household and drop off meals to high-risk individuals.
As always, Ghaly and Newsom closed by imploring Californians to wear a mask, physically distance, wash their hands, and minimizing mixing.
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom was asked if he lost his credibility after photos circulated of him socializing without a mask at a birthday dinner with other households at an upscale Napa Valley restaurant. In response, the Governor reiterated his apology, said he made a mistake and won’t make it again.
When asked about his quarantine, Newsom called the isolation "challenging and trying.” He also said he empathizes for those who do not have access to resources he does in his position. He also used the question as an opportunity to call for additional federal support.
In terms of the details, Newsom said he began quarantining over the weekend with his family after three of his children were exposed to COVID-19. The entire family has so far tested negative, and the Governor said he has "no expectations" that he will test positive in the coming days.
Newsom noted that his legal team is appealing the decision by a court related to restricting the scope of his executive orders. Specifically, he said, "I'm confident in our legal standing and our legal position."
Regarding filling Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris’ seat— Newsom said progress has been made, but no decision yet.
The briefing concluded at approximately 2:52 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 1,110,370 (+0.8 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 18,726 (+0.3 percent) deaths in California. As of November 15thth, there have been 22,457,544 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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