Mar 25, 2020

California Governor Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 25

Gavin Newsom Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 25 California
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsCalifornia Governor Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 25

California Governor Gavin Newsom gave a coronavirus press conference earlier today on COVID-19 in the state. Newsom said they have had 1 million unemployment claims in less than two weeks and 4 banks are going to suspend mortgage payments. Read the full transcript.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (03:04)
Start by just thanking our speaker, Nancy Pelosi, thank leadership of the Senate, particularly Chuck Schumer, for the stimulus bill that was just announced. We are hopeful that it will not only pass, but hopeful it will fulfill the promises that are being made in terms of its impact. No one is naive about the magnitude of this crisis, and I’m not suggesting that the magnitude of this stimulus will even meet the moment. I certainly have strong points of view that there will need to be more in the future, but let me just acknowledge good work, and let me just acknowledge progress, and that progress is manifest.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (03:48)
The state of California, by our back of the envelope estimate, as we process more of the details of the stimulus bill, will be the beneficiary of over $10 billion just in the state block grant portion of the package. Some $5.5 billion alone will go to the state itself. The rest will go to our cities and counties. That does not include all of the other specific, very direct support that is also part of the stimulus bill. This bill will be very helpful, and it’s very timely, as we’re in the process of distributing billions and billions of dollars of cash to procure PPE, to procure locations and sites to secure the safety, the public health and safety of the people of the state of California.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (04:36)
So on behalf of the nation’s largest state, as Governor of the world’s fifth largest economy, the state of California, let me applaud the Speaker, applaud Senator Schumer, applaud the Democratic leadership and the compromise that was advanced with Republicans for meeting this moment, noting that this moment in a week or two may necessitate further moments of support, particularly to individuals. Not just states, not just to businesses, not just to industries, but to individuals themselves that have been most impacted by this virus.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (05:13)
Let me be specific about what I mean by that. We’re very pleased with the increase in unemployment benefits up to $600 on top of what states are already providing. In the state of California, we provide on a weekly basis unemployment insurance grants from anywhere from $40 to as much as $450, and this package would provide for an additional $600 on top of that. So for over $1,000 a week for many Californians. And by the way, the reason I say it’s timely, we just passed the 1 million mark in terms of the number of claims. Just since March 13, one million Californians have now claimed the need to get unemployment insurance. So this cannot happen soon enough.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (06:02)
But the magnitude of what happened in 2008 is still manifest for millions of Californians. We still have people that are struggling to get back to where they were before the great recession that most recently was defined by Lehman Day, September 15, 2008, which marked an important moment. People are older and still struggling. And so these are individuals that once again are disproportionately being impacted by this moment. And that’s why I say we need to focus on those faces, on their stories, not just the face of government, not just the face of business, but on the faces of individuals day in and day out that are struggling to make ends meet, struggling to feed their family, to feed themselves, to get to the needs of their small businesses.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (06:53)
Small businesses need more support. Small business is not something for me that’s an abstract. I am proud to have created 23 small businesses in the state of California and employed hundreds and hundreds of workers. I have deep appreciation and respect for the entrepreneurs throughout this country and certainly in the state of California. I can assure you even with the significant improvements advanced by leadership of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, we still need to do more for small business, for nonprofits and others. So again, I want to just compliment the work that was done. We are very supportive here in the state of California of advancing this bill and having that stimulus do the work that we are all hopeful it will do in realtime.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (07:42)
We’ve had wonderful conversations, by the way, to that end. Just got off the phone with Senator Harris, who’s been an extraordinary leader for our state, working hand in hand with our partners throughout state agencies, local agencies and nonprofits, to work to delineate exactly what we needed to prioritize. Senator Feinstein accordingly, and I can’t say it enough, the incredible leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (08:08)
But when we talk about unemployment insurance, we talk about a $600 increase beyond what states are already providing on a weekly basis for the next four months, that doesn’t mean much when you are facing the burden and the costs associated with, for example, your mortgage. Residential mortgages being top of mind, I imagine, for families all across not only this state but across the country. Over the course of the last few weeks, we’ve been sitting down with banks, large and small, credit unions, large and small, throughout the state of California, and been in contact with national bank and CEOs around the United States. I personally have had conversations with the heads of JP Morgan, the head of US Bank, Wells Fargo, a number of our nation’s largest institutions, and state banks like East West Bank here in the state of California.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (09:01)
Some 200 state chartered banks and credit unions have committed to the state of California that they will provide forbearance on foreclosures and on mortgage payments. That is significant, but the nation’s bank, we were encouraged to do the same, and I’m very pleased that Wells Fargo, US Bank, Citi, and JPMorgan Chase have all agreed to 90 day waiver of payments for those that have been impacted by COVID-19, and that’s an important point to make. It is significant that we have some consistency. It’s significant that we don’t have a patchwork, one bank to another. That’s what happened in 2008. Credit unions doing one thing, banks doing another, state banks doing something altogether different. So we wanted to engage our nation’s largest banks and see if we create some continuity, some consistency across their ranks, and four of the five largest institutions committed to just that, that 90-day. Unfortunately, Bank of America did not publicly commit to that. They just committed to 30 days. I hope they will reconsider and join those other banks that are willing to do the right thing by at least extending that commitment to their customers for 90 days.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (10:22)
While the state of California doesn’t have regulatory oversight of those banks, I’m sensitive to that, and I know that the banks certainly are sensitive to that. They are also recognizing the sensitivity to their customers, not just on the issue of being able to pay their mortgages and having a grace period for 90 days, but also on credit ratings, and that’s also part of the broader commitment that we have secured by those nations for those five largest, our nation’s banks, and all of the state chartered banks and credit unions, counting 200 plus.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (10:58)
And so I want to just compliment them for their willingness to engage us and our team, Ben Chida, Commissioner Alvarez, and others that have been working overtime to organize these principles and advance them. We’re working on additional issues and get continuity and consistency on ATM fees, on overdraft charges as well, and we’ll be announcing more details on that in the coming days.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (11:23)
I also, though, recognize, while significant to have that continuity as it relates to residential mortgages, as a small business person, you’re wondering as a nonprofit leader, as a church leader, you’re wondering what’s in store in terms of next announcements, next steps for you. And know in realtime we are also working with those same institutions to socialize some continuity and some consistency to help you as well, so no, the job is not done. We’re not naive, but we think this is a significant announcement. It’s not just a release. It is a significant framework to advance commitments that we have absolute certainty are real, based upon personal commitments that I received directly from the leaders of these companies. Again, with the exception, unfortunately, of the Bank of America.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (12:18)
I also want to just make a few comments about the work the state of California is doing to meet this moment as it relates to the needs for personal protective gear, as it relates to anticipating our surge capacity. I made an announcement a couple of days ago that we’re looking to an additional 50,000 hotels, or rather units for support from hotels, motels, skilled nursing facility, and our hospitals, to find additional bed capacity for acute care throughout the state of California. In terms of that 50,000 number, 30,000 was going to come from an increase of capacity within our hospital system, roughly 40% increase in their capacity and their footprint, and the rest would come, 20,000, from the state of California.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (13:06)
I’m pleased today that Seton Hospital, it was one of those early announcements we made, we were able to get a lease on Seton, and Seton now is already operational today. That’s a significant milestone. We’re not just having conversations in the abstract about finding and procuring assets, but the human resources necessary to operate those assets, and that is the significance of Seton today. It is being now staffed by the extraordinary heroes, our nurses and doctors, and we have at least the first traunch of appropriate personal protective gear that is available at that site.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (13:46)
St. Vincent down in LA was another one of our announcements, and we’re working to do the same there, and of course the number of other hospitals that we have also identified and are in the process either of having already taken the physical asset over, and in the process of securing the staffing, but also advanced conversation on a number of other hospitals including CPMC in San Francisco to provide for more search capacity.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (14:14)
Three sites already, Santa Clara, Riverside, and San Mateo, we’re working either in the fairgrounds or working the convention centers to begin the process of converting those larger field medical stations that the President was generously able to procure and provide. Remember, eight of those are coming to the state of California. That’s 2,000 additional medical beds those sites are already unpacking or in the process of being made operational.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (14:45)
I mentioned yesterday I was very proud, and they’re right behind me here at our State Emergency Operations Center, we have the leadership of the USS Mercy that are here, and we’re working out the details and protocols with LA County, LA City, and LA Port on making sure-

Governor Gavin Newsom: (15:03)
… county, LA city, and LA port on making sure that site is prepared, and prepped for five days arrival of that ship, and Saturday, Sunday as we begin to process the possibility of first individuals to come on board. The configuration, I know there’s been a lot of reporting up to a thousand beds. A lot of those are bunk beds, may not be ideal, so the number will come down substantially from a thousand. It’s still a work in progress, and quite literally that’s the progress that’s being made in real time here at our operations center, so well, now it’s more on that in the coming days.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (15:36)
I want folks to know that we have already distributed 24, 200, 095 masks in the state of California. That is a significant number. It’s still insignificant to meet our needs. I was very pleased today in our last briefing. We have now secured literally 100 million new N95 masks, which is not insignificant, but again, still requires us to secure, and support additional procurement efforts, but that’s good news and for those healthcare leaders that are demanding more and deserve more, I want them to know when those get off the docks, when they get through the airport, and customs, we’re going to get them out as quickly as we humanly possibly can.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (16:27)
Those procurements are not just limited to N95 masks, [inaudible 00:16:32] coveralls, and gowns, and shields, and the like, and we’ll make those numbers public as well for those that are interested, but no, this Herculean effort is underway and it is taking real shape. I’ll just be even more specific. I mentioned Sir Richard Branson, Virgin, and what they have committed to 747 to Hong Kong to come back into Oakland airport, and there’s 1,000,095 masks that are part of that manifest, 150,000 testing kits that are also part of that manifest. This is all hands on deck, or at least on board specifically to that 747. It’s just indication of the work that’s being done.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (17:15)
Elon Musk announced officially a 1,225 ventilators. Well, in excess of the thousand he said he was going to get us, he was able to find additional 225, and distributed those throughout our hospitals. I mentioned Bloom Energy. These folks deserve recognition. They are converting now about 30 a day of our ventilators. Talk about re-purposing a manufacturing plant to meet this moment, and we’ve got 30 of our 514 ventilators that were in our cache at AMSA, and CDPH, and they are repurposing, reconfiguring those assets, and they again deserve credit.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (17:56)
We speak about tests. I note that 150,000 new test kits coming because of the largest of the partnerships with Kaiser, with Apple, and Virgin doing substantively the logistics. The testing issues are incredibly important to Californians and Americans. We like others have been very vocal about the issues in the last few weeks around reagents, RNA extraction kits, and now with new technologies coming online, higher processing speeds, automation, the higher throughput that you’ve been hearing about all over the national news. We’re getting those operations up and running.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (18:35)
As a consequence, we were able to put together a new number in terms of the tests that have been conducted in the state of California as of yesterday. That number is 66,800, and it’s 39, 200 more than we had identified the previous day for a number of reasons. Kaiser is finally up, and operational, doing 12,000 tests in Northern and Southern California. All of these smaller labs coming online, and finally we’ve got reporting protocols that are feeding up into our system. We had the original 22 labs that were reporting consistently. We then got the commercial labs be a quest, or lab core to start reporting in, and then, of course our academic institutions, our hospitals from Stanford UC, our Sutter affiliates, and Kaiser now more fully operational.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (19:25)
This is including, by the way, verily the Google affiliate that’s doing these field tests that now are not just operationalizing in the Bay Area, but now in Sacramento, and Riverside. More is being done in that space, but let me acknowledge in the outset, 66,800 tests is not enough, and it’s not enough for a reason that I mentioned yesterday, and I’ll report again today, and that is, it’s one thing to do the diagnostics, it’s another to get word back on the test results. Tens of thousands of those tests that I just mentioned are waiting for the results to be finalized. The backlog now is not just on reagents, and RNA extraction kits, and on the swabs themselves, and the media to transport the swabs, and the collection vials, but now also on the delay in getting the results of these tests.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (20:20)
And so, we are working over time. We had a conversation today, {Text Exchange 00:05:24], the company, it says they can provide them in 10 minutes, others providing technologies say we’ll get them back in 45 minutes. We’re just vetting those, and we are working collaboratively with our team. We’ve got a full time task force just on testing protocols to vet these technologies and make sure that we’re not being taken advantage of, because one thing we know in this environment, there are extraordinary people, and there’re people that do extraordinarily bad things and so, I also want to just extend that doesn’t just include the interface with government, people claiming that we need to send the equivalent of Bitcoin in advance to get some materials before they can send them, and questionable activities like that.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (21:07)
But I also want people to look out for your own consumer protection, more phishing, more cyber activity. Don’t just open any me email. Be thoughtful about your own personal protection, particularly as we move more and more online, distance learning, distance work, teller work, teller medicine. We become more vulnerable to cyber attacks, cyber hacking, but personal messages from strangers and the like, just be careful before you provide your credit card, your social security number, your mother’s maiden name, your first pet, whatever it may be. Just make sure that you’re also being thoughtful as we are as well as it relates to a tsunami of people claiming extraordinary things that we have to vet, and we have to test.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (21:55)
Those test results by the way have come back in the state of California. 2, 535 individuals as of this morning, and we use a point in time 10:00 AM on a daily basis have tested positive in the state of California, 2,535 individuals. That’s a 17% increase from the previous day. Tragically 53 lives lost including that young person that made national headlines yesterday, and just a point of caution to all of us, and including my own team. As I know people are eager to get information out in real time, and we are as well and that obviously raised alarm bells across this country because this individual is 17 years old.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (22:44)
I just want folks to know there’s a protocol, and process now and investigating what occurred there with LA County, with CDC, and while it was reported to the state of California through the county, that information, it was reported up. We all I think are reminded in this moment that it’s not just speed, it’s accuracy that must be front and center in our public statement, and our deliberation, and I take that to heart as your governor as well, and so, that’s being investigated. We’ll have nothing more to say on it until we get that information, but I can say this with accuracy, 37 people under the age of 17 in the state of California are part of those that have been tested positive in the state of California, so three dozen young folks have been tested positive. 51% as of today, over half, 18 to 49 years old, over half of you, 18 to 49 that tested positive.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (23:49)
So, these stay at home orders are real and we want to maintain our vigilance. It’s interesting we’ve been talking about the Olympics in this country. One of the things that all the greatest sprinters in the world have in common, they don’t run the 90 yard dash. Let us not run the 90 yard dash on these stay at home orders on home isolation. We can bend the curve, we can defeat this virus, but we can’t defeat it unless we commit to fulfilling our individual obligations, and our collective responsibilities to meet this moment. The stay at home orders are real. They are a bipartisan order. They’re not a rural order and an urban order. They’re not a Democratic order or a Republican order. The state of California, and close to half now of the American people are living in the some frame of reference around home isolation.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (24:48)
Let’s meet this moment. Let’s follow through. Halfway is no way. It is absolutely incumbent that we take seriously these orders. We’re already seeing a little movement even in the state of California, and we just want folks to make the appropriate movement for essential business, essential support and services, and with intention go outside not to congregate and it’s not just social distancing. I think in many ways that’s a misleading frame. It’s physical distancing that we’re after. In some ways you shouldn’t be socially distant from others because we’re using different mechanisms to which we socially can engage. It’s physical distancing.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (25:26)
I just try to use language that, I know if I had a teenager, [inaudible 00:25:30] four young kids, but they understand physical distancing more than they understand social distancing. For the younger folks out there physically separate from others, and strangers. Don’t mix and don’t think for a second that we’re a day or two away from lifting that order. We’re not. We’re not even a week or two away. California can meet this moment. We’ve been leading in almost every category and other governors have done an extraordinary job in all of them deserve credit to some degree, or another, and I’m proud to be part of those 50 state governors, and their leadership. It is demonstrable, and we are sharing best practices.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (26:08)
But, it is also incumbent upon us having just left a conference call with a number of governors across the state that those best practices include following through on these orders, and directives, so that we can get through, maximize the short term so we can minimize the longterm impacts, and you have to focus on economics by focusing on health first, and we must focus on meeting this health crisis, so we can ultimately address the economic challenges that are self evident in the stimulus package and in my admonition that it still needs to go farther for individuals and people into the future.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (26:47)
Final point, I was very pleased today. We got our new number homeless individual that have the capacity now to get more support and resources. We talked about 2,400 beds that were made available for homeless individuals in some counties. They’re not just using them for the homeless, but they have the capacity to do that. We now have 4,305 hotel rooms in our portfolio, and we’re making those available all across the state in real time, and thank you to LA, and thank you to Sacramento. They have identified the exact sites of where the trailers will go, and we’re getting those 1,305 trailers. I said 1309 we lost five trailers. That’s another conversation, but I want to be precise and specific.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (27:35)
We have over 1,300 trailers that would be going out, and as soon as those counties provide more information we’ll get those support services out, so I just wanted to mention that as well. That’s in broad strokes, and update on a number of issues, and I just continue to be very proud of our hospitals, our nurses, our doctors, our front line employees that are doing an amazing job including those that work for the state of California that are meeting the moment, our budget team to other agency directors that are struggling to keep up, but are doing their best under very challenging circumstances, so with that we’re happy to answer any questions.

Speaker 1: (28:20)
[inaudible 00:28:20] Los Angeles times.

Speaker 2: (28:24)
Governor hi. Thanks for taking my question. There are some housing advocates and state law makers who have called for a statewide moratorium on evictions of renters, and I know before you put out a directive encouraging counties, and cities to look at that, but the complaint is that there’s a patchwork of policies. It’s not really consistent. When are you going to address that and do you support a statewide moratorium on evictions and why haven’t you called for that? Thank you?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (28:51)
Yeah, so for three days in a row consecutively, I’ve said the following, let me say it on the fourth day, we are very concerned about what’s happening, or not happen at the local level. We reserve our right. As I said when I put out the first directive to clarify the legal authority of local government, that was not clear before that executive order came out to advance their own moratorium on evictions that if we don’t see things materialize, and manifest in very short order, we’d reserve the right to look at a state overlay.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (29:23)
I said two days ago, in addition to what I just told you, I said that we have a team reviewing the legal parameters related to that issue. Issues are much more complicated that they may appear. For me, it’s practice, not promise, and so, we’re looking at takings, clauses, issues related to law, unintended intended consequences, and the team is working overtime to work through those issues. When I’ve clarity on those legal parameters, other states, I know have done versions of this, but state of California has its unique set of circumstances, we will provide…

Governor Gavin Newsom: (30:03)
The State of California has its unique set of circumstances. We will provide clarity. And I will be very direct with you on the answer. Those same individual legislators that are writing that public letter have directly contacted me. So I am already quote “in receipt” of their point of view, and well aware of that anxiety.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (30:20)
I also am very proud of the announcements I made today, as it relates to residential mortgages. I think that is a significant step. And I hope it’s also a demonstrable example that we mean business at this moment. And we are leaning in to meet this moment. And that is another area where I can assure you we’re leaning in. And, hopefully within the next day or two, we’ll have absolute clarity on next steps.

Moderator: (30:48)
Doug Sovereign, KCBS.

Doug Sovereign: (30:55)
Governor, can you hear me?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (30:57)
Perfectly.

Doug Sovereign: (30:59)
Hi, Governor, can you hear me?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (31:00)
Oh yes, Doug, absolutely.

Doug Sovereign: (31:03)
Hi Governor. Thank you. And I just want to say also, on behalf of my reporting colleagues, we really appreciate the opportunity to ask questions whenever you have one of these briefings, since we can’t be in the same room. So thanks for making that possible.

Doug Sovereign: (31:14)
But as you know, the hospitals are all bracing for a surge that they think could be coming in the next week or two in California. And I’m wondering if you have a sense as to how much we are bending the curve or flattening the curve. And maybe that surge won’t happen or it won’t be as bad as they fear. Or what your thoughts are on is that surge coming? And is what we’re doing making a difference?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (31:37)
We’re preparing always for the worst. And I want folks to know, some people will say, “Well, are we being honest about the worst case scenario? Are we overstating,” some people say. “Are we understating?” We’re going forward in as transparent way as possible, with the best estimate based on real time data collection, real time information.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (31:57)
I talked about the need to potentially have the capacity of 125,000 rooms, within our hospital and acute care system. That’s the 50,000 that I was referring to a moment ago. I talked about how we’re breaking that down between what the hospitals, the foreign and 16 hospitals themselves would do, and what the State of California is doing.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (32:16)
I specifically laid out today that Seton is now open. It’s not at the capacity it will be over the course of the next days and weeks, but it is open. And what we’re doing at St. Vincent, and what we’re doing to get CPMC on board, and what we’re doing down in Long Beach, with the mayor’s consent and support their community hospital, and hospitals in the Central Valley, in addition to those eight medical field hospitals that were procured through FEMA and the federal government.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (32:45)
And so all that are being packaged. And here’s the good news. Our hospitals right now are in better position to meet a week or two of a worst case scenario than they have been. Our ICUs as well. The new ventilators that we’ve been able to procure, in addition to the 7,587 that we started with within the hospital system. We’re starting to get those new ventilators that we’ve been speaking of. I included, by the way, yesterday 170 that came from the federal government, down to LA County in that total number.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (33:17)
We’ve got more protective gear that we’re getting out, and can’t get out soon enough. And I talked about that 100 million, just in the N95 masks that we’ve already identified and locked down, that is making its way into the State of California.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (33:29)
So we hope we can meet this moment. I’m sober about it. I’m deeply proud of our planning efforts. And I say this not as a point of critique, not as a point of … Well, not to make any other point. We’re going to own this moment. I’m not interested in pointing fingers and abdicating responsibility. We’re going to own this moment. We need help wherever we can find it. But we’re a nation state and we are resourceful beyond words. And we’re going to meet this moment. And so I say that to answer your concern of your question, the subtext of it, is if we see things doubling every few days like they have in New York, I feel like we’re getting these assets in place. So that we can at least buy ourselves some time, as we procure all of these other resources in real time.

Moderator: (34:22)
Adam Beam, Associated Press.

Adam Beam: (34:23)
Hi Governor. I’m curious about the waiving of the mortgage fees. Would there be any income requirements, or other types of requirements apply for this? I mean, you said earlier it’s for people impacted by the virus. But the virus has really impacted everybody.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (34:42)
Yeah. No, there is no income provisions that are part of the announcement we made today. So the answer to the question is no. But it is COVID related, and some form of documentation. And we want to ease the documents side of this. And I can assure you, one of the great critiques post- 2008 was the laborious processing back and forth with documentation.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (35:06)
And we’ve been working with the big five banks for it that are doing the right thing, and all of our state chartered banks, to reduce the paperwork and significantly ease this process. I want to say though, in order to ease the process, let me encourage you, as a consumer that may be hearing this or reading about it, if every single person with a residential mortgage makes a phone call at the same time to their bank, those call centers will collapse.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (35:36)
So I hope folks take a little bit of time, pause, get their documents in order, put everything together. So that when they do make those calls, someone, A, will answer that, and, B, that they’ll answer that in a way where you can get the response you want, without having to spend 10, 20, 30, 40 minutes on hold or in a conversation. I know the bank CEOs were quite candid with me about concern around surge. And I expressed deep appreciation about that, just with our unemployment insurance call volume, which has been overwhelming. And I hope consumers will consider that as well.

Moderator: (36:12)
Elex Michaelson, Fox 11.

Elex Michaelson: (36:19)
Michelson. Thank you so much for taking our calls. There’s been a bit of a controversy in LA County, California’s largest county, over the issue of gun stores. The sheriff here says he believes that they’re non-essential and would like to shut them down. But he says that there’s been some confusion over your guidance on this issue. Do you believe that gun stores themselves are essential businesses that should remain open during this time?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (36:43)
Well, I may be the last person to ask this question, who passed a statewide initiative to become the first state in America to do background checks, not just on guns but ammunition purchases. I believe people’s right to bear arms. And I believe that people are exercising that right. But I’ll defer to the sheriff in this instance. And I’ll defer to sheriffs in their respective jurisdiction for that clarification.

Moderator: (37:10)
Laura Mahoney, Bloomberg Law.

Laura Mahoney: (37:14)
Hi Governor. Thanks for taking my question. The federal relief package has a lot of tax changes for individuals and businesses, involving items like 401k distribution, charitable contributions, student loan payments, net operating losses, and even a tax waiver for making hand sanitizer. And I’m wondering if you will push for California to conform to those changes, and that would mean getting the lawmakers to do it.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (37:42)
Yeah. The answer is we will see. We are in quite literally real time processing the details and nuances, and translating into the state budget what this federal support looks like in a granular level. We’ll see where the gaps are. I’ve expressed concerns that, even with the substantial increase in unemployment insurance benefits, it’s still not going to be good enough for millions of Californians. I’ve expressed concern about the small business supports and the like. So we will process that. We will make an assessment and determination.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (38:19)
I should just note, while we are a nation state that was running surpluses up until a few weeks ago, and record reserves and bond rating that increased on multiple occasion because of the fiscal prudence and the economic vibrancy of the state, the economic impacts to the budget were self evident yesterday, when I announced basically a baseline budget into the new year that will impact the budget proposals that we advanced in our January numbers.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (38:50)
And so it gives you an indication that we will have to look through this very thoughtfully, and process each and every example. But committee to conformity across the board is not something at the moment any governor, humbly, I submit, should do. And I certainly won’t, until we get those facts.

Moderator: (39:09)
Ashley Zavala, KRON4.

Ashley Zavala: (39:13)
Hi Governor. I just wanted to check in, because I know last night you said you would have hospitalization or recovery rates as it relates to California’s numbers, and just seeing if you had those today.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (39:25)
Yeah, it looks like we’re going to get him this afternoon. But Dr. Galley can talk a little bit more about that. And forgive us, starting a little earlier than we anticipated yesterday. Doctor?

Dr. Galley: (39:35)
So thank you, Governor. We continue to work with our hospital partners and health delivery partners, to clarify our data. We know we’re tracking some of the hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients, and those in the ICUs. We want to give the public a complete picture across California, not just in those hotspot areas that we’ve been tracking. And we expect to have those through our many partnerships over the course of the next couple of days, so the Governor can keep the public abreast of the situation in our facilities.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (40:05)
Yeah. So we were hoping to have those numbers this morning, but we’ll get those as quickly as we can. Again, in the spirit … I have estimates. I don’t like the estimates. We’re going to get clarification on some of these numbers, and get the specifics. And, until I have that, we’re going to hold the current ones back.

Moderator: (40:25)
Alexei Koseff, SF Chronicle.

Alexei Koseff: (40:30)
Hi Governor. Could you please clarify why the reported number of tests seems to have tripled from yesterday? I mean, what is the [crosstalk 00:40:42].

Governor Gavin Newsom: (40:41)
Well, this is exactly what I told you would happen over the course of the last number of days. We have been getting all of the new testing information back, from some of the largest providers of tests in the State of California. I was very specific a moment ago. You heard me discuss a specific number, 12,000 tests that came from Kaiser, both in Northern and Southern California. That is one example. Kaiser just came on board. A number of other providers just came on board. And the collection protocols when a new provider comes up, we’ve got to engage them, and we’ve got to give them the guidance on exactly what we want.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (41:19)
A lot of new providers, small labs, only submit positive tests, not just negative tests. And a lot of folks are sitting on paperwork. So there’s quite literally dozens and dozens now of these providers, all throughout the nation State of California. And so those protocols are being advanced. Each time someone comes online, we’re making sure that they’re in line with our collection data. So over the course of last week, we’ve been scrubbing all of those, and getting down into some of the smallest collection labs, in order to make sure that everybody is on the same page.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (41:56)
I should note, those numbers will continue to lag. Because, in real time, people are coming online with new testing technology and the like. But the spike was exactly what we anticipated. And it was 39,200 more than yesterday’s numbers. And it’s about in line with what we expected. But it is not good enough. We want to see more tests in the state of California. Smarter, more targeted testing, more community surveillance. It is critical that we do that.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (42:27)
And we are being very bold in some of our discussions around procurement of new technologies. And we are committed to making some very significant advancements, not just waiting for federal supports in this space. But to take more aggressive actions, as new technologies are presenting themselves in real time from around the world. And we are currently vetting them to consider the procurement of those technologies.

Moderator: (42:57)
Hannah Wiley, Sac Bee.

Hannah Wiley: (43:01)
Hi Governor. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, as usual. It seems like school districts have many different plans to keep kids learning. But has there been any guidance from the administration on uniform K through 12 instruction? Or have your advisors for these districts … Or have your advisors offered any assistance to these districts, to handle the new normal of online instruction?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (43:29)
Yeah. As you recall, many days ago, through the direction of Linda Darling-Hammond, our superintendent of public education, Tony Thurmond, my own team led by Ben Chida and others, we put together a strike team, a task force. We were quite specific with you in the media. We said that we would need a few days to put out guidance to the thousand school districts across the state of California.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (43:54)
We met that timeline. We put out very detailed guidance. We broke that guidance down into four or five categories, well beyond the issues of distance learning, to the issues of food distribution and procurement, and the like. We’ve got the legislature, incredible leadership of Toni Atkins, Anthony Rendon, to put an additional $100 million of emergency aid, that we now have made available to the school districts, for personal protective gear, for cleaning protocols. So for those sites that are still operational for online or distance learning, and/or for food distribution, that those sites are safe.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (44:29)
And so those protocols, those processes, those procedures are available. And we distributed them throughout the school system. Recognizing that we are many parts, but one body, meaning one size does not fit all. And these were guidelines and not directives in this sense, that if you’re in Tulare County or you’re near Visalia, it’s a very different condition and environment, in terms of resources, community resources, and onsite school resources, than perhaps in some other large urban or suburban-

Governor Gavin Newsom: (45:03)
… then perhaps in some other large urban or suburban district, and so that’s why our directors were quite nuanced, but I would direct you to those guidelines, which are available on our websites and across the board. Just Google those guidelines. If you need any help, direct them to my office, and I’ll get my team to get them to you specifically.

Speaker 3: (45:20)
Katie Orr, KQED.

Katie Orr: (45:25)
Hi, Governor. Because of social distancing, obviously, signature gatherers for November ballot initiatives can’t be out on the streets collecting those signatures. Do you have any intention of pushing the deadline by when they have to have those signatures gathered? Then are you concerned about the November election in general and any impact that COVID-19 might have on it?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (45:50)
We’ve been very close contact with our secretary of state, Alex Padilla, who’s really leaned into this moment and has been providing me almost on a daily basis of thoughts and insight in terms of protecting and securing not just the November ballot, but our special election. As you know, we have a number of special elections in May. We put out a directive a few days ago on the special elections and what the new protocols and processes will be, particularly as it relates to supporting our mail-in ballots.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (46:20)
Alex Padilla is doing just that more broadly at a scale in the November election, and we’re scoping those things out, helping them resource ideas in terms of the magnitude of what that means. Of course, he’s working county by county with district election offices to make sure that their needs are met as well. Just know that process continues. As it relates to signature gatherers, let me get back to you on that. Number of people have inquired about that, not surprisingly, from the industry, and it is an industry, these collections. We’ve got many things we’re processing. That’s one of them, but I don’t have any new information to provide you at this time.

Speaker 3: (47:00)
Nicole Nixon, Capital Public Radio.

Hannah Wiley: (47:04)
Hi, Governor. You’ve talked about some of these new test kits coming in from overseas. What areas are most in need of those, and is mass testing something you still want to see, is something that could still be feasible?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (47:17)
Yeah, as I said a moment ago, we want to significantly improve our community surveillance testing in the state of California, more targeted testing, testing… We’d have to change the nomenclature on testing. It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about what, where, when, and why, what’s the purpose, what’s the intent of the testing protocols, what are we trying to ultimately achieve beyond just diagnostics for critical care needs, which is a medical need, which self-evidently is a top priority for people with symptoms, people that are presenting themselves in our hospital system, people that are in vulnerable populations, those with issues obviously related to previous conditions and obviously age.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (47:58)
But we really to start testing and retesting people, and this is incredibly important point. Just because you had a test that’s negative doesn’t mean the next time you get a test, you’re going to be negative. Just at that moment you’re negative, but moments after the test results come back, you may be in a position where you are saying, “Well, I guess I’m fine. Now I can run around and go on a nice hike and run into people.”

Governor Gavin Newsom: (48:23)
You may need to be retested. Also, we want to test people not only multiple times broadly in terms of the mass testing protocols and procedures, which ultimately is the goal to the question that you asked, but we want to keep retesting people that have recovered so we can learn more about the specifics of their experience and the sum total of that data will be profoundly important. You’re seeing that around the rest of the world. A lot of those technologies are being presented in states large and small and obviously to the FDA and to the federal administration and their task force led by Vice President Pence, and also they’re going direct to states like ours with very specific technologies. I should extend those technologies aren’t only swab-based, aren’t only on the base of how current specimen samples are being provided.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (49:15)
People are coming in with all kinds of novel testing strategies that don’t require that, that are blood-based. Others are looking at protocols and therapeutics that aren’t even traditional dosages that may actually could stem cell capacity. This is the center, and I encourage the press, really, this is an opportunity to lean in. This is the center of the universe when it comes to biotherapeutics, bio-innovation.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (49:45)
We are the birthplace of biotech, the state of California. Remind you, Gilead and Genentech, Genentech founded in 1979 here in the Bay area. They’re headquartered here in the state working with the finest research institutions in the world, among the finest in the world, and so there’s a lot that’s happening in this space, a lot of deep trials that have already been advanced, Cedars, USC, Stanford, not just our UCs, and we’ve been having such wonderful and dynamic conversations around what’s happening in that space, but it also includes the testing space. I can assure you our commitment is to massively increasing the testing capacity, protocols, procedures, and targets.

Speaker 3: (50:30)
Final question, Jeremy White, Politico.

Jeremy White: (50:35)
Hey, Governor. Thanks, as always, for talking to us. I just wanted to follow up on Hannah’s question about school [inaudible 00:50:42]-

Governor Gavin Newsom: (50:51)
Jeremy, I’m-

Jeremy White: (50:52)
… [inaudible 00:50:52]-

Governor Gavin Newsom: (50:53)
Jeremy, this is not because I don’t want to answer a school question. Literally, you’re breaking up. I’m sorry about that. Let’s try to get back to you. Why don’t we offline, get back to you, Jeremy, specifically, and let’s have one more question if someone else is on the line.

Speaker 3: (51:08)
Anita Chabria, L.A. Times.

Anita Chabria: (51:12)
Hi, Governor. Thanks a lot. Can you give us a little bit more insight into the numbers that you have that your modeling today is based on? I understand the limitations of the testing, but you have doubled hospital beds. Are you looking at doubling rates? Are you looking at how many positives we have percentage- wise? What do you know about how the disease is moving through California?

Governor Gavin Newsom: (51:34)
Yeah, no, I’m going to leave that to Dr. Ghaly, who’s running all of these protocols, and he can talk more specifically about that.

Dr. Galley: (51:44)
A number of weeks ago, we did work on a sort of homegrown first-in-the-nation, really, model around what the impact, knowing what we were learning from many of the repatriation efforts that California was leading and how the disease was starting to come into the state beginning to be contained at first. Then as we moved into community spread tracking methodically all of the cases where they were across the state, contact tracing, et cetera, using that information, refining our model, inviting our academic partners, not just here in California, but from across the country and the globe to begin to refine that model and build it around our current data, data from Santa Clara in particular, what we were seeing in some of their big hospitals, whether those were individuals who were coming into their emergency rooms with influenza-like illnesses, those who were eventually tested positive and/or negative for COVID-19, those who ended up into the ICU.

Dr. Galley: (52:49)
Unfortunately, the growing number of individuals were dying from the disease, and we take that information every single day with those initial rates of globally incorporated attack rates, what we were seeing in other countries, and we continue to build our model. Today, we feel like we’re looking at our doubling rate. We originally thought that it would be doubling every six to seven days. We see cases doubling every three to four days, and we’re watching that trend very, very closely.

Dr. Galley: (53:17)
The critical information that the Governor has said, he will get the public on number of people in the hospitals, number of people in ICUs. The overall testing rate and the rate positive is going to continue to allow us to refine this model and work towards whether that 50,000 number in surge capacity that the Governor has tasked us to create for the state of California with our wonderful partners is that enough, when do we need it, and we are on track given our current estimates of where we are.

Dr. Galley: (53:49)
We believe that through the ongoing refinement of those numbers, looking at whether the social distancing efforts across the state are working, understanding what the trends are, not just in those hospital rates, but things like call centers for colds, fever. That helps us model this as well. We’re watching those trends. The Governor mentioned that we have early signs that some of those efforts are making a difference, and we believe that’s true in certain pockets of the state. We believe also that our hospitals, because of their forward-thinking nature, have helped to do a lot to prepare for the surge that we anticipate in a week or two, maybe a little further out if we continue doing a good job on social distancing, physical distancing, really. I appreciate that pivot and frame. I think that’s exactly right, and that we will continue to build these models and look at it.

Dr. Galley: (54:47)
I think right now we believe that 50,000 number is exactly where we need to be for phase one and that our hospital’s doing the great work that they’re doing now where we couldn’t be better positioned for what we anticipate could be coming. Whether that comes or not in the full nature that we anticipate is in large part up to us. That personal responsibility with physical distancing is going to be critical, and we’re going to be watching that closely. Trust me, we’ll let the Governor know, continuing to update you on how we’re doing with that when we have to dig in a little bit more so we can stick to this model, not only flatten that curve, but stay ahead of what we see coming.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (55:31)
Thank you for that. We’ll just wrap up. Let me wrap up, but just on that point, you’ve heard me use this phrase many times. I can’t repeat it enough. The future is not just something to experience. We’re not along for the ride. I completely reject this notion that somehow we are destined to any particular fate. It is decisions, not conditions that determine our fate and future, and it’s the sum total of millions of individual decisions. That’s why we can’t let up on the good decision making that we’ve seen the overwhelming majority of Californians over the course of the last few weeks.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (56:05)
We would like to believe that that’s had an impact. In fact, we know it’s had an impact on bending that curve and buying us time. Every day, we don’t see a spike every day. That is another day that we’re getting more assets, more physical and human resources prepared for a worst-case scenario to save people’s lives and to meet this moment. Let’s not let up. Let us commit to this home isolation and this physical distancing. Let’s not be interested in doing so. Let’s commit to doing so. If we do, then we, I think, will have a tremendous impact on mitigating what some people assume is a worst-case scenario that is inevitably going to come our way.

Governor Gavin Newsom: (56:56)
We don’t live under assumptions. We live under real data trendlines and real application of responsible ways of impacting those trends so that we can model a day where we are back to work and this economy is back on track and millions of Californians are safe and healthy. Thank you all very, very much.