Feb 19, 2021
California Gov. Gavin Newsom COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript February 19
California Gov. Gavin Newsom held a COVID-19 press conference on February 19, 2021. Read the transcript of his coronavirus briefing speech here.
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L.K. Monroe: (00:00)
… that we began vaccinating members of the education workforce here at the Alameda County Office of Education, through Cal OES FEMA’s mobile vaccination site. So we are a mobile vaccination clinic. We have the truck initially … And I say the truck. It is multiple trucks. And about 50 folks who are working to serve and vaccinate members of the education workforce. We couldn’t be more proud. We know how important it is to ensure that our educators are safe, and have what they need, as they look at returning to school.
L.K. Monroe: (00:40)
So, if I may, yesterday, the first person we vaccinated was a gentleman by the name of Jose [Chavarin 00:00:48]. And he is a 20 year veteran of Hayward Unified, and works as a custodian at the Hayward Adult School. This just points up who is the folks that are coming here. So, in addition to custodians, there are teachers aides, there are teachers, there are all members of the education community.
L.K. Monroe: (01:13)
What we know here, the reason it’s so important to have this, in addition to we’re very fortunate to have a mega site in our backyard at the Oakland Coliseum. This is associated with that mega site. What’s important is that we are able to focus on the highest priority educators, those who are in the education workforce. So not only are these the folks who have been in front of students, these are those who will soon be in front of students.
L.K. Monroe: (01:41)
And also those who are from our highest hit areas. So the areas that have the highest prevalence of vaccine, we are prioritizing those members of our education workforce first, and then moving out from there. So we want to make sure that they are ready, and that they have all the protection that is necessary, and that there are elements in place for a safe return.
L.K. Monroe: (02:06)
So we are working at the Alameda County Office of Education, with our 18 school districts, to ensure that students, and teachers, and teachers aides, and paraprofessionals, and our custodians, all are able to get back to school. We know that school is the best place for our children. We have heard some of the outcomes for our students who have been absent from us for a long time. So we are working all day every day to ensure that this happens. And this is just one small step in bringing that a little closer to reality.
L.K. Monroe: (02:40)
So I couldn’t be more excited. I couldn’t be more excited to welcome our special guests today. The next person you’ll be hearing from is a friend of mine, and someone I’m really pleased to partner with in this and many other efforts, Oakland’s Mayor, Libby Shaaf.
Libby Shaaf: (03:01)
Thank you so much, Superintendent Monroe. It is awesome to be with you again, to make yet another positive announcement about our advancement to beating COVID-19. What you’re seeing here today is truly a team effort, to send one clear message to our students, families, teachers, and education workers. We want you back in school. We want you back learning.
Libby Shaaf: (03:35)
And by setting aside this site to prioritize our teachers and education workers, we are one step closer to opening those schools. Now, I want to recognize the leadership at every single layer of government that is getting us to this point, and hopefully getting us to reopen all our schools. At the city level, we have been tireless advocates for reopening. Governor Newsom, thank you for heeding the letter sent to you by 11 of California’s largest big city mayors, to do exactly what you’re doing today, which is prioritizing teachers and education workers, so that we can get our schools reopened.
Libby Shaaf: (04:22)
Alameda County. Alameda County, and our great director of public health, Colleen Chawla, has led, in this state, to prioritize teachers at higher priority levels than most of her colleagues. That is leadership. The state of California, Cal OES, is making this resource available to us today. And, of course, those vaccines that are going into the arms of our beloved teachers and education workers are from the federal government. These are not impacting California supply. These are from our friends in Washington, DC. Thank you, President Joe Biden, and daughter of Oakland, Vice President Kamala Harris.
Libby Shaaf: (05:09)
I believe that one of our highest priorities in this moment is reopening schools. It must include family choice, and accommodation of teachers and education workers, who have very valid health concerns. But as we in Oakland have an approved reopening plan, this is one more step to getting our kids back to learning.
Libby Shaaf: (05:34)
It is my awesome responsibility to recognize the many elected officials that are joining us here today. Please forgive me. You’re going to all have to help me. I already recognized Colleen Chawla, the Head of Public Health for Alameda County. We are in the great city of Hayward, and we are joined by Mayor Barbara Halliday. We have Aisha Knowles, with the County Board Of Education. You already met L. K. Monroe, the County Superintendent. I’m going to skip the guy in the blue jacket. And our fabulous athletes are going to be speaking to you later.
Libby Shaaf: (06:08)
We have Hayward City Councilmember, Aisha Wahab. We have Bill Quirk from our Assembly. We have Bob Wieckowski from State Senate. Did I miss anybody? Did I get everybody? All of our elected officials? Thank you all for being here together. This is team education. This is leadership in California, for not only curing COVID, but getting our kids back to learning.
Libby Shaaf: (06:40)
It is now my pleasure to introduce someone who I stand with, and I support his approach to reducing the barriers to reopening, not increasing them. And that is our great Governor of the state of California. It’s my honor, always, to introduce Gavin Newsom.
Gavin Newsom: (07:03)
Thank you, Madam Mayor. Thank you for your generous words. Thank you for your incredible leadership here in Oakland. To Superintendent, thank you for hosting us, Madam Mayor. And to our Senator and our Assembly Member, it’s great to be with you as well. And we’ll be introducing you in just a moment.
Gavin Newsom: (07:18)
Want to quickly update you on where we are, as it relates to this pandemic, what the status is, what our current trend lines are, and what that foretells in terms of the future, not just as it relates to the issue that brings us here today, a mobile site that is prioritizing our educators, but also more broadly, about our challenges and opportunities to reopen schools all up and down this state, as well as modify our state home orders, as it relates to activities, including youth sports, of which we want to make an announcement today.
Gavin Newsom: (07:49)
Just briefly, here’s where we are in terms of the vaccine distribution. 6.9 million vaccines have now been administered in the state of California. Just yesterday, we administered 264,000 doses of vaccines, the highest single day number of doses that we have administered since the beginning of our effort. 6.9 million represents one of the highest numbers of vaccines administered, not only of any state, but of all but seven nations in the world.
Gavin Newsom: (08:21)
We still have more work to do, but the scale and scope and size of the operation that we built out, the network of over 1100 providers, and all 58 counties in this state, allows for the ability to distribute and administer well over 2 to 4 million vaccines each and every week. That’s the goal, designing a system that allows for 4 million vaccines to be administered on a weekly basis. Last week, we were able to administer 1.4 million vaccines.
Gavin Newsom: (08:52)
The only constraint now is manufactured supply. I’ll repeat that. The only constraint to substantially increasing our administration of doses is the constraint on manufactured supply, both of Moderna and Pfizer, as well as expectation of new supply coming online as early as next month, early next month with Johnson & Johnson in the single dose vaccine, that we’re very, very hopeful about coming soon with an emergency use authorization.
Gavin Newsom: (09:25)
That 6.9 million is important, but what lies underneath it is really the reason that we’re here today. And that’s the cause that unites all of us. And that’s the cause of equity. It’s one thing to talk about equity as a North Star, talk about it rhetorically. It’s another to deliver on that promise. I’ve had the privilege of being all over the state of California in the last number of weeks. Was down in Coachella Valley just 48 hours ago. We were in Madera, California, Fresno, other parts of the state, focusing on the issue of equity, reaching out and getting to where people are.
Gavin Newsom: (09:58)
One of the principals of the two large-scale mass vaccination sites that we announced formally, or at least implemented formally this week, with the Biden administration, the two first sites of its type in the United States, in partnership with FEMA and our California Office of Emergency Services, was a framework of equity. That’s why those sites were chosen here in Alameda County, and down in East LA at Cal State LA. Up to 6,000 doses will be delivered, or rather administered, on a daily basis at those two sites when they’re fully operated.
Gavin Newsom: (10:35)
But those sites come with mobile components. One of those mobile components, one of two, and Tammy from FEMA is here, and we thank her for her stewardship and leadership, is focused on the issue of equity as it relates to the issue of education. And we prioritize, and have prioritized now for weeks, the ability for counties, large and small, to prioritize vaccinations, not only for our teachers, but for our educators broadly defined, our classified employees, our food service workers, our custodians, our bus drivers, the ecosystem that is required to reopening our schools for in-person instruction. By the way, that also includes childcare workers, which we’ve also prioritized.
Gavin Newsom: (11:22)
I had the privilege, just two days ago, to be down in East LA, where there was a set aside of the allocation specifically for teachers, specifically for childcare workers. And this is exactly what the state will be doing now more formally. While 35 counties, and I want to repeat this, 35 counties in the state of California currently are prioritizing vaccinations for teachers and educators, we want to operationalize that as the standard for all 58 counties in the state.
Gavin Newsom: (11:56)
So, effective March 1st, not only we doing that through our third party administrator, but we are also setting aside 10% of all first doses, beginning with a baseline of 75,000 doses every single week, that will be made available and set aside for those educators and childcare workers that are supporting our efforts to get our kids back into in-person instruction. That’s effective March 1st.
Gavin Newsom: (12:28)
And the reason we can do that more formally, even though we have allowed for it over the course of the last number of weeks, is the window of visibility into the future, with more vaccinations that we know are now coming from the Biden administration. 1.38 million this week, with some delays. And I’ll talk about that, relating to weather. A little over 1.4 million next week, 1.5 plus million the week after.
Gavin Newsom: (12:54)
So that stability, that visibility, gives us the confidence that we can set aside that as a priority, and address the big stress that many counties, many county boards of education, not just counties as it relates to broader health frame, but the county boards of education and superintendents have, as it relates to access to vaccinations as a priority, in order to get our TK-2 cohorts of kids back in school first, and then grades three through six, which must be done, and must be done much sooner than the current path that we’re on. And we believe this will help advance that cause.
Gavin Newsom: (13:36)
Forgive me for being so long-winded. I’m going to come back and talk more about reopening schools for in-person instruction after the rest of the speakers. But we do have two special people that are here, and perhaps you’re wondering why they may be here. Now, they’re very familiar to many folks here in the Bay Area, members both of the San Francisco 49ers, defensive end quarterback for the Niners, two friends of mine I’ve known for years, but two people that-
Gavin Newsom: (14:03)
… For the Niners, through friends of mine I’ve known for years. But two people that give a damn, that actually are really involved in the community, not just involved in the community for photo ops, that do quiet work every single day that doesn’t go unnoticed to folks like me or the people that they’re serving. They have been strong advocates. And trust me. They have my cell phone, and they know how to get to me to get youth sports open in the state of California, and they are wondering what has taken so long to get youth sports, competition back in this state? Our friend Kevin, a mutual friend, talking about the realities of mental health, physical health. The fact that kids are not even in school, and don’t even have the ability to organize around sports. It’s impacting them in profound and significant, and in many cases, deleterious ways.
Gavin Newsom: (14:51)
So we’ve been looking at the data, looking at the science, looking at best practices all across the country. Working with the CDC, working with public health officers at the state level and the local level, and really analyzing the science, looking at the data and transmission. And we are now confident, with new guidelines we’re publishing today, that we can get youth sports moving again in the state of California, get competition moving again in the state of California. With, as always, caveats. None of us are naïve that despite the fact we’ve dropped to 3.1% positivity in this state… We were at 9.9% 30 days ago… Despite the fact that we have less than 7,000 reported cases today, and had 24,000 reported cases 30 days ago… Despite those facts, those very encouraging trends, we still need to be cautious until we reach herd immunity.
Gavin Newsom: (15:43)
And so, there are components in our reopening plan for youth sports that do require for high contact sports… Like rugby, like water polo, yes, like football… that we have some testing requirements that the state of California will provide for. We will absorb the cost. We will provide those tests. We put out these guidelines in partnership in concert with organizations large and small, including the Let Them Play Coalition. I want to thank them for their strong advocacy and their support of a process that we’ve engaged in over the last number of weeks, and the give and take in terms of landing on the new guidelines and where we are today. I want to thank members of the legislature, both in the Assembly and Senate, for their advocacy and support as well.
Gavin Newsom: (16:29)
But at the end of the day, I want to thank the coaches, the staff. These are incredible mentors to these kids. I want to thank these athletes for recognizing what sports did to them, and the fact that they’re not only here as athletes, but as wonderful human beings that are also examples to others, because people bent down on one knee to help lift them up, primarily their coaches, primarily the staff, supporting not only their athleticism, but their development as human beings. And recognizing others and recognizing collaboration and recognizing that sports is a lot more than what happens within the lines. It’s everything else that happens outside those lines.
Gavin Newsom: (17:13)
And so, it’s my privilege and pleasure to introduce two members of the San Francisco 49ers, one that’s homegrown up in Sacramento. What, Elk Grove, I think? All over damn Sacramento. And obviously one of the more outstanding… And this is just objective. One of the real standouts, not just on the 49ers, but in the NFL. Eric, it is all yours, and you’re going to introduce your buddy Josh in a moment to talk more about this youth sports efforts. Thank you.
Thanks, Gavin. I wanted to thank Gavin for your leadership. Being a Sacramento native and a resident of California, I wanted to thank you personally for your leadership, and thank you for allowing me to be here. Like Gavin said, I’m a Sacramento native, born and raised. I grew up playing football and basketball in the area. And so, I know the impact it had on my life. I know the impact youth sports has on the rest of our society, and the rest of our state, and the youth as well.
Also, being a husband to a child and adolescent psychiatrist, and being able to see firsthand the mental health issues that the pandemic has caused our youth, I’m a big advocate for getting youth sports back. I heard and listened to the Let Them Play Coalition, and the stats they raised, and the risk they raised, and being able to see that other states play youth sports. I’m very excited today to see that California will be joining the rest of the states that have played, and getting our students back playing. They need camaraderie. They need to be around their friends. They need it for their health, both mentally and physically. And I’m extremely honored and excited that they’ll be able to return and play again. And so, I’m also going to bring my teammate up who is a Oakland native, Josh Townsend, and he’ll have a few words as well.
Josh Townsend: (19:41)
Hello, everyone. Thanks, Gavin, for allowing me to be a part of this. I think today is a tremendous first step in the right direction. Outside of my faith and my family, sports is pretty much everything. And having a sports-driven family… My mom and dad are coaches. I have cousins who coach, uncles that coach… pretty much sports has been my gateway out of the struggle in Oakland that we had to endure. Without it, I don’t know where I would be in life today.
Josh Townsend: (20:17)
And just going through this pandemic has really been a challenge for myself personally. I was a part of the XFL, which had COVID ended. I was trying to figure out how to be able to keep my body ready without a gym open. Over that whole process, I kind of felt the struggle that most normal people were feeling, because life is different when you wake up and you’re not working out every day. I can feel the mental energy and the energy that I have in my body is not the same. After a workout, and just how you’re able to process things and feel better about life and be able to take on the challenges of life, it all starts with that foundation of what sports provides.
Josh Townsend: (20:55)
And then when you look at the camaraderie factor, the teamwork factor… Like I was telling people earlier, sports is the only place where we commonly come together from all different walks of life, to be able to find a mutual understanding. And to be able to give that to these kids at this young age is very important, because they need that. We don’t want them to miss that, to grow up in a world where they don’t have that or experience that, because we don’t know that outcome. But that outcome which sports will provide for them will be way more [inaudible 00:21:22] than sports. It’ll be some of our best leaders come out of this thing, some of our best innovators will come out of this. But it gives them that structure, for those that need that structure showing up.
Josh Townsend: (21:31)
I’m thankful for you guys for starting this journey back forward that we all have to take on as a country to get things back to normal, and I’m just excited to be able to now go out and watch these kids play, and be able to see the joy on their face that sports provides for them. And then those that take advantage of the opportunity, how it can help change their lives and their family lives forever. So, thank you guys.
Gavin Newsom: (21:59)
Before I introduce the senator and the assembly member, I just want to make just a couple clarifying comments about these guidelines that will allow for these sports to resume again, even contact sports, to resume once the threshold is reached where we have 14 cases or less in a county. We currently have 19 counties that are in that category, including Alameda County, including Marin, San Francisco. Many of the Bay Area counties are already well below 14 cases per 100,000. So, they’re able to move as early as the 26th. So, this is a week from today. This is for outdoor sports, including contact sports. Again, including football, rugby and water polo, which have unique and distinctive requirements for some periodic testing for those cohorts 13 years and older.
Gavin Newsom: (22:54)
It gets complex, except it’s not that complex. The bottom line is we’re moving through using data, using science, using other people’s experience, still with caution and still with a recognition of the significant advantages in terms of mitigation around transmissibility and outdoor activities versus indoor activities. We’ll continue to work on some of those indoor issues, and we have a whole work group on that, and we’ll have more to say very, very shortly.
Gavin Newsom: (23:25)
But with that, I know that Senator Wieckowski has a lot to say about the good work that his county is doing. I want to just acknowledge Alameda County has been a real leader in their administration of vaccinations. Again, having traveled up and down the state of California, I’ve seen success. I’ve seen struggle. Alameda County remains successful, and it’s because of the remarkable leadership of the health director and the mayor, the entire team, county superintendent. The partnership, the collaborative spirit. This mobile site is profoundly important. Another mobile site like this will be going up very, very shortly. Working with African-American churches, working to truly meet community members where they are. Equity, again, is our priority. And so, with that, Senator, I’ll introduce you, and you can introduce Assembly Member Cork as well. Thank you.
Sen. Wieckowski: (24:18)
Well, thank you, Mr. Governor, for being in Hayward. This is the heart of the Bay. And thank you for your leadership. You’ve done more in a week to help combat COVID and identify the problems than that former guy did in a year. And your actions show us, the legislature and here in the community. You were at the Oakland Coliseum when they opened it up. You were at Levi Stadium. Now we have this mobile site. You’re making it real for folks, that they understand that we’re here to make sure that all kids get back to school. And also that that ecosystem of educators… Not just the teachers, our professionals that are dying to get back to the classes. I mean, these are people that actually love kids. I don’t know if I can say that. I mean, I like kids. A lot of parents say they like their kids. But these people chose professions so that they can touch the heart of these young people, and help educate them.
Sen. Wieckowski: (25:16)
Today really marks a big day, that the state of California is understanding that it’s not just these stationary sources. That we’re going out to the community, and we’re finding the people that are hard to find to get vaccinated. Just yesterday, the Senate took action on the $9.5, $9.6 billion relief package. So, we’re going to give those most vulnerable… The people that are getting food stamps, students, small businesses are going to be getting grants. This is a multi-pronged attack that’s going on since this pandemic has started. You know? You have worked with the legislature. Okay, we don’t always agree on all the details, but the big goal of getting our society back to where it was, getting people back to work, getting kids back to school. So, we’re making progress.
Sen. Wieckowski: (26:08)
You know, the numbers. People get lost in the numbers. But at eight million, which is going to be next weekend, we’re at 20%. And the governor points out that we have the capacity to do 4 million people, that’s 10% of our population, per week. I mean, it’s happening right now. Wear two masks. Wear a mask. Wear two masks. That’s always better. That’s the goal. That’s the goal. Thank you again for coming to Hayward. Thank you for your leadership. Not only for California and for our community and here in Hayward, but just for the whole nation. And now, Hayward’s own assembly member, Assembly Member Bill Quirk.
Assembly Member Bill Quirk: (26:50)
I’m here to talk about the future, as your second to last speaker. The future is, it’s going to get harder. Yes, right now there are tens of millions of people who want to get vaccinated, and only 1.4 million a week. That’s tough. But tougher yet is when we have plenty of vaccine, but people, not because they’re anti-vaxxers, but because gee, they heard something on the radio or the TV that makes them reluctant. Or they got three jobs. How can they get vaccinated? Or, “You know, I’m young. It’s not going to matter. I’ve got to keep up that relationship with my girlfriend and get away for the weekend.” That’s going to be a much tougher problem. Much tougher. And that’s something that we all have to help on.
Assembly Member Bill Quirk: (27:43)
We have to give people positive messages. “I had a shot. No problem. I feel confident. Yeah, I’ll help you. I’ll find a way to watch your kids while you get out to get a vaccine.” And then there’s even the longer term…
Assembly Member Bill Quirk: (28:03)
… get the vaccine, and then there’s even the longer term problem and worst problem. Many jobs are going to disappear. 10… Well, we think business travel is going to be down 20%. That means fewer people working in hotels, fewer people working in restaurants. Downtowns are going to have 20, 30, who knows what percent, fewer workers downtown. Again, fewer people in the hospitality industry, fewer people on transit. We’re going to have a whole bunch of people looking for new careers. And that’s a challenge the state is going to have to take on. Our community colleges in particular, I think will be central to this. So as I said, this has been tough, but the toughest is yet to come and it’s going to take all of us working together. Thank you.
Gavin Newsom: (28:52)
Thank you, [inaudible 00:28:58] member. And I just want to highlight and thank you senator as well for referencing the work that was done in the legislature in the last few days. It was very notable and very significant the 9.5, almost $9.6 billion package that we were able to put together. That’s an early action package, an additional $2 billion of direct grants to small businesses, direct grants not loans, five to $25,000 grants also to nonprofits and cultural institutions. This builds on the half a billion dollars we worked collectively to advance over the course of the last number of weeks. Billions of dollars in the hands of upwards of 5.7 million Californians directly in their pockets. Particularly those that are on earned income tax credits or beneficiaries of earned income tax credits. Those on CalWORKS, SSI, SSIP, they’ll be beneficiaries of these direct relief checks of $600. We think this is very meaningful.
Gavin Newsom: (29:52)
It’s at scale. It’s the largest package of its type in the United States. It has other supports including for our community colleges, our UC and CSU. $ 721 million of additional support to the UC, to the CSU and the community college. We’re also supporting our community college system with people that have left because of this pandemic to prioritize bringing them back, including grant funds to support their efforts to come back and safely. So a lot of wonderful things came out of that package. It’s worthy of being highlighted every single day. But the meaning, the substance will be felt when those checks arrive, when they’re distributed and when people get those applications into us and we get those dollars and those grants into pockets of those employers to help through this very difficult time. Just a final word on it, it’s just interesting to note because it was lost in a lot of the discussion around it.
Gavin Newsom: (30:49)
We’re also providing two years of waiving all licensing requirements. For example, we have 59,000 bars and restaurants that have ABC licenses. They have fees upwards of $1,235 a year to renew their license. We’re waiving that for the next two years. Barbers, cosmetology, et cetera, hundreds of thousands of licenses in that category, waiving all of those fees. The Main Street hiring tax credit of $100 million, a lot of loans and grants for people that cannot otherwise get SBA loans or can’t even get the federal PPP loans. We’re also prioritizing those businesses as well. So anyway, thank you, senator, for highlighting that. I wanted just to share all of that, and you’ll probably hear me share that on a daily basis because it needs to be shared. We need to communicate it. We make sure people are availing themselves to those supports. Again, I want to just remind people that want to be availed to any of the things we’re talking about today to go to the covid19.ca.gov website, covid19.ca.gov website.
Gavin Newsom: (31:54)
That’s where we’ll have the updated guidelines on use of sports that we’re announcing here today. You’ll have more information about our proposals, setting aside, not proposal, what we are doing on March 1st to set aside 75,000 baseline. It will be 10% at 75,000. Will grow, just think over four week period. It’s about 300,000 vaccinations prioritized to our workforce in order to get our schools reopened and to support our childcare workers, which are foundational. And when you do that, you’re helping women disproportionately, not just children. And I want to just repeat this because my wife reminds me of this every single day. And as a son of a single working mom, I lived it. It was my lived experience. The burden, particularly on single mothers has been profound and pronounced. And when we think about these things, we have to think about it, not as numerical issues, not as statistics, but through the eyes and lens of a lived experience.
Gavin Newsom: (32:53)
And for all of the young women, regardless of your time in life that are raising a loved one, that are desperate to get that young child back into in-person instruction for all the social emotional benefits to get that young child back with their friends playing outdoor soccer and feeling safe and confident that they’re going to do that and that they need the support to get subsidized childcare, that’s exactly who we are thinking of, you, as we put together all of these programs. I just want to thank you for everything you’ve worked through, your resilience and just know we have your back and there’s more we’ll be doing in the weeks and months ahead. With that, we’re here to answer any questions.
Jeremy White: (33:38)
Can you all hear me? Okay, great. Hey governor, I’m Jeremy White with POLITICO. I am the conduit for reporters today. I have a lot of questions about Ted Cruz here so we’ll just jump right into it. The legislature introduced the school’s bill yesterday which conditions reopening schools on counties making vaccines to teachers. That’s obviously been a sticking point. Can the state make that happen in time to reopen schools soon?
Gavin Newsom: (34:04)
Well, my fear about what was put out yesterday, it’s actually going to slow down our ability to reopen school safely. That’s my concern. We’ll continue, we are continuing dialogue with the legislature, but the proposal was put out, actually, sets back the cause of safely reopening the schools on a timeline that I think advantages the most vulnerable Californians in this state. We put out a framework and I’m grateful that the legislature embraced the framework around six and a half, almost $6.6 billion of early action to support safely reopening schools. And that was very encouraging to see. But when you read through the details of the proposal, it actually does not allow any cohorts to open for some time where I believe very strongly what they’re doing, not only here, but in places like Long Beach are the better and preferred approach. There’s momentum on reopening schools and I want to continue to see that momentum.
Gavin Newsom: (34:59)
That’s why we’re setting aside 10% of new first dose allocations for our teachers, for our paraprofessionals, for our cafeteria workers, for the support staff to do precisely that. That is a significant set aside. We’re operationally standardizing that in every part of the state through the third party agreement. And we think that will substantially address concerns. Number two, we have provided three months already of free PPE. It’s profoundly important that we have protective gear. The state at no cost has already forwarded that PPE and we will make sure that we’re supportive in every way, shape or form with additional supports for protective gear as is necessary to get our youngest cohorts safely back in to school. We also providing 41 counties, over 1000 schools have already committed to a testing regime through Valencia lab. We want to build on that.
Gavin Newsom: (35:56)
We had already framed a effort for more transparency, more accountability, created safety strike teams, even put up a map on safely reopening schools hub, a one stop shop of information for parents, for teachers, for professionals, for the public that we put out over a week ago. And so we’re seeing momentum. We’re seeing communities like this, prioritizing their teachers today. And now with more vaccines being available and the set aside, we think that will further advance that cost.
Jeremy White: (36:27)
Thank you, governor. Your response to the legislation last night was that, I quote, “Doesn’t go far enough or fast enough.” Can you give us some more specifics on what changes you would like to see to ensure that it goes farther and faster?
Gavin Newsom: (36:40)
Well, I think I framed what we’ve done and I framed the momentum that is underway and my desire to get TK to 2, open is the first cohort, three to six as the second cohort. We are using, we’re using CDC guidelines. And unfortunately what was put out today in print, and again, it’s an iterative process and we are looking forward to continuing the dialogue with the legislature, actually doesn’t allow for any of those cohorts to open until a numeric number that the CDC themselves doesn’t even subscribe as it relates to reopening elementary schools is met and that’s seven cases per 100,000. Our stipulated guidelines is 25 per 100,000. The state’s currently at 18.4. That’s why Long Beach announced they are intending to reopen. And so I don’t want to slow down that process. That’s fundamentally the difference of opinion between what was put out yesterday and the position of our administration, the position of the Biden administration, the position of Dr. Fauci himself.
Gavin Newsom: (37:49)
We are using data. We’re using science, WHO, Harvard university, that 25 cases per threshold. We’re using the lived experience in almost every other state in this country. We would be, if we adopted that proposal, an extreme outlier. And the only cohort that they’re requiring go back, it’s on April 15th. That’s almost near the end of the school year. And those are for special need kids. I want to get our special needs kids back in school sooner than two months, and certainly have the ability to get educated beyond just the traditional school year. We can do this. We can keep people safe. We can protect folks, the kids. We can protect our students. We can protect the community. We’re seeing case rates decline. Evidence, the science backing up our proposals, consistent with the spirit, including a lot of the details that came from the CDC and the Biden administration. So that’s our position. And forgive me, it’s been my position since December, remains my position today. Unfortunately, what was put into print would slow down the process of reopening our schools and that is something I can’t support.
Jeremy White: (39:03)
Legislators have suggested they could hold a vote on this bill as soon as Monday. If they send it to your desk as is, would you veto it?
Gavin Newsom: (39:09)
I made it crystal clear I can’t support something that’s going to delay the safe reopening of schools for our youngest kids.
Jeremy White: (39:15)
And on a similar note, I think this bill is generally seen as being quite aligned with the position of the California Teachers Association. Are you concerned that your lack of support for this bill could undermine your relationship with the teacher’s union?
Gavin Newsom: (39:29)
I have great respect, reverence, for the union and I have great relationship going back decades. And so will continue to maintain that relationship. Good people can disagree. We’ve met many of their concerns and conditions as it relates to enforcement, accountability, transparency, data collection. As it relates to creating a school opening hub, as it relates to PPE, as it relates to prioritization of vaccinations. Remember, 35 counties today, including this county, have prioritized their teacher because of the flexibility that we had previously afforded in terms of the vaccination distribution, to prioritize our teachers. And today’s announcement clarifies that further with a numerical number, 10% of all subsequent first doses. As they rise, that number will rise with a baseline of 75,000 a week. We are prioritizing to get our teachers, not just CTA members, but to get members of classified unions, to get our bus drivers, [inaudible 00:40:31] custodians, our food workers, all of them vaccinated, including our childcare workers, because I think you have to connect that self-evident dot and that’s important to me as well.
Jeremy White: (40:41)
Governor, you are fond of saying that localism is determinative. I think that is certainly true with schools. These districts being, excuse me, these decisions being made at the district level. Particularly given that unions and some of these big cities are really drawing a hard line around vaccinations, is it misleading to suggest whether it’s you or state lawmakers that a state plan will make a substantial difference given that this really gets played out-
Gavin Newsom: (41:03)
Well, I think it has. I mean, you’ve seen momentum on the basis of the guidelines we put out a number of weeks ago. Long Beach is a perfect example of that. Once they hit that 25% threshold, once they had flexibility in terms of the vaccinations, they started to prioritize those vaccinations and they announced the school reopening plan. Not a delay plan, but an actual reopening plan to safely do so. It’s the third largest district in the state. I applaud that leadership, that local leadership. I applaud the mayor in his determination, the county and their determination, the county superintendent and others. It’s an example of what can be done when we commit ourselves to doing something, accomplishing something. No one says this is easy. There are 1,050 plus school districts in this state, independent school boards, county superintendents, locals. I mean, it’s complicated. It’s California. Size of 21 states in America combined in population. But that doesn’t mean we can’t prioritize the most vulnerable, the people we claim to care most about. If we care about equity, if we care about civil rights, we really care about justice, we have to really, I think-
Gavin Newsom: (42:03)
We really care about justice. We have to really, I think, think long and hard about those youngest kids that are simply just not getting educated “on zoom.” My four-year-old, trust me, we had fits and starts. They started out not in school. I’ve experienced both, in and online learning with four young kids. It’s not an academic exercise. I’ve seen it firsthand with all the supports in the world, Zoom classes, he refers to it, Dutch, not working for him. He needs to get back in in-person. Now he finally is, but what about everybody else? They deserve that same support. And so we could do this safely. There has to be accountability, fully optimized. Of course everyone’s vaccinated. That’s why we want to prioritize, it’s why we have prioritized vaccines. That’s why we’re setting aside 75,000 every week plus, that grows.
Gavin Newsom: (42:53)
So, forgive me. I’m animated on this because a plan to delay reopening is not a plan to help protect our most vulnerable Californians. It’s not a plan to help single moms. It’s not a plan to get our economy moving again as we stabilize things. No one’s taking the bandaid off. We have all the rules and regulations. There’s in fact, a few states in America will have more rules and regulations in terms of modifying to keep everybody safe and California, we’re never going to walk away from that commitment, but to delay that opening based upon science that doesn’t exist when we arbitrarily announced that somehow we’re moving forward without CDC recommendation guidelines totally contrary to what everything Dr. Fauci and all the experts are saying and we come up with a threshold that’s one third what they have been and others suggesting. I don’t think is a real plan to take care of our most vulnerable kids.
Jeremy White: (43:56)
A clarifying question, governor on that 10% or 75,000 set aside for educators, is that specifically for TK to two, or would it be sort of first come first serve?
Gavin Newsom: (44:06)
In-person, for those that wish to go back in-person instruction, it’s for them across the spectrum. For those that have, we want to preserve that. By the way, I thank the legislature. There are a lot areas of agreement and by the way, one, we should just level set and to stipulate that. The $6.5 billion that mirrors the 4.6 plus the two we put out in the January proposal. So, we’re very pleased with that. I’m very pleased that we broadly agree in terms of a phased reopening, TK to two, three to six. I appreciate they call out special needs. We did as well.
Gavin Newsom: (44:40)
The framework is remarkably consistent, but the details are profound in terms of not opening until we have this seven case, that just is going to deny millions of children the ability to get educated for not many weeks, potentially months. And I of course want to see everyone vaccinated. And we have been doing that in 35 counties. Obviously, the constraint is supply, but we are now knowledging through a very specific framework that we can do more because we now have visibility with more supplies coming, more confidence in our capacity to do that and continue to commit to the most vulnerable Californians, particularly those 65 and over, and those with comorbidities, those with IDD, others in congregate facilities and the like.
Jeremy White: (45:36)
Governor, quite a few questions about the resumption of youth sports. Why do you feel now is the right time to ease up on those guidelines so outdoor sports can resume? And do you foresee further adjustments to help indoor sports like basketball resume? What would have to happen to get there?
Gavin Newsom: (45:49)
Yeah, as I noted, that’s a separate conversation. That’s more complicated and that’s where we have more controversy and understandably so. We worked for the last many, many weeks on looking at the data, looking at science, comparing and contrasting other rules and regulations all across the United States. We looked at the evidence. We counseled folks federally. We counseled folks at every local health jurisdiction. We worked collaboratively with those who are advocates, and we landed in the framework that we are announcing here today. We believe it’s backed by science, evidence, backed by experience, practicality, but more important than anything else we are confident that if we can resume it will only help enliven the capacity of these kids to feel more engaged, feel more alive, to get the social back to social and emotional, the mental and physical health and resume activities that are much more positive in terms of their life’s choices.
Gavin Newsom: (46:52)
And so, as someone that’s literally got into college because of sports and it wasn’t my SAT, I’ve never been shy about that. It’s something that’s personal to me, as well with having four kids. And I know for a lot of parents it’s been a point of real stress, particularly in outdoor activities. And that’s what we’re accommodating for today.
Jeremy White: (47:13)
We’ve seen disruptions in supply of vaccines and appointment cancellations around the state this week, a lot of it due to inclement weather. Can you just give us a sense of how that affects delivery estimates and sort of the overall picture?
Gavin Newsom: (47:24)
Primarily an issue with Moderna vaccine, [inaudible 00:47:28] doses have been impacted by inclement weather. Moderna primarily, but not exclusively, Pfizer, a little bit of delay, but they have shipped. We don’t have the exact dates. A lot were going to arrive today didn’t. So there is going to be some adjustment. There is going to be some impact. We’re working with provider network, complicated 1100 plus providers in the state. A lot of inquiries, a lot of calls, a lot of stress. It’s not unique by any stretch, my gosh, quite the contrary to California. Some ways we’ll fare probably a little better than many other parts of the country, but [inaudible 00:48:00] doses have been impacted. More information I receive I’ll timely repeat that very publicly to you and others.
Jeremy White: (48:08)
The current balance of the vaccine distribution is mostly to counties and then a minority to providers. Is that going to switch when this Blue Shield network goes online and how would that look like and how would that network be sure it’s reaching out to vulnerable communities?
Gavin Newsom: (48:22)
Well, the whole framework is speed and equity, and it’s focused on mobile sites, pop-up sites, not just large scale mass vaccination sites. It’s also predicated on more engagement and framework, community-based clinics and public hospitals. The more traditional areas of access as we’ve learned from flu shot, including pharmacies directly themselves. So, the Biden administration has really a four pronged approach, direct allocations to pharmacies nationwide separate from the allocation the state receives, direct allocations to community clinics separate from the state allocation, direct allocations to sites like this that do not come out of our sites. That’s the three prong. The fourth is the state allocation itself. And so the combination of all those factors considered with more transparency, more accountability, more clarity, provider payments, incentives, and data analytics that this third party can provide at scale will allow us at a granular level, a zip code, a census level, looking at the healthy index map the state to really provide for clarity in terms of proximity to vaccination sites and addressing some of those gaps.
Gavin Newsom: (49:30)
I also want to note, we just announced a week ago in Fresno and Madera announced some mobile sites through OptumServe, 20 part of the original cohort. These will also be mobile sites that are part of our collaborative to get more of an equity frame and meet people where they are. You’ll hear it more and more about FEMA’s second mobile site very shortly. And then of course the mobile sites down in Southern California as part of the FEMA OES partnership as well.
Speaker 1: (49:58)
Jeremy White: (49:59)
I’m told this is the last question, I better make it a good one. Governor, you said earlier this week you had not yet had a chance to read the legislature’s bill that would ban hydraulic fracturing. So, I’m sure you have a lot on your plate and may not have had time to read it.
Gavin Newsom: (50:12)
Jeremy White: (50:12)
But given that you asked the legislature to send you a fracking ban, I just want to confirm that you still support banning fracking in California.
Gavin Newsom: (50:19)
I do. I was very clear. I did an executive order. We were declarative, but we did something more profound perhaps than any other state in history and we also mandated that all cars in the State of California must be alternative fuel cars by 2035. Not only did we do that, but General Motors, one of the largest manufacturers in the planet, aligned their entire production strategy and scheduling around what California did. That’s radically changing the way we produce and consume energy in this country by shifting the demand, not just the supply curve. And I want to just reinforce that because that really does need to be highlighted.
Gavin Newsom: (50:56)
It may be one of the most significant things that’s happened as it relates to greenhouse gas emissions in decades. And I’m really proud of California being in a position to do that. And we are certainly in a position to thoughtfully and judicially address the issue of environmental justice as it relates to the issues of certain types of fracking. And we put out our goals and we put out studies, we put out resources working with two legislators that are here. Thank them for helping support a just transition study to figure out how to do this in a way that truly doesn’t leave other people behind. And I’m confident we can get there. No one says this is easy. There’ve been efforts for many, many years, and this is one of the newer efforts. And I do look forward to reading the details and no, you’re correct. I’ve been in many parts of the state. And one part I haven’t been is at my desk reading bills that were just introduced.
Gavin Newsom: (51:52)
With that I want to thank all of you for the privilege of being here with you in Hayward, Alameda County, with incredible leaders that are assembled. Thank them for their patients, thank them always for having to endure the Q&A part of these sessions. Honored to be here with Eric and Josh of the San Francisco 49ers. And I want to thank the Let Them Play coalition again, all their hard work. My friend Doug has been working hard behind the scenes on youth sports as well. And Jim DeBoo and Ana Matosantos, Bill Dodd I can mention. Kevin McCarty. So many of you, thank you for all your hard work on getting it to this point today. Thank you everybody.