Aug 19, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom August 19 Press Conference Transcript
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Gavin Newsom: (00:51)
Well good afternoon everybody. A lot to cover today so let me jump right in stating the obvious that the West Coast of the United States continues to experience a massive heat wave. Some have described this high pressure system as a heat dome that has impacted not just the state of California but the entire West Coast of the United States. It has led to many red flag warnings including a significant number of lightning strikes in the last 72 hours, some 10,849 lightning strikes alone just in the last number of days including, and it bears repeating, the prospect of a world record. 130 degree temperatures here in the state of California. 130 degree temperature here in the state of California. The highest recorded certainly in modern history, potentially in human history in Death Valley.
Gavin Newsom: (01:52)
We have seen wildfire activity as a consequence of this heat wave, as a consequence of all of these lightning strikes. We currently have active, addressed some 6,754 fires since the beginning of this year. You contrast that and you can see in this slide where we were this time last year. Rather than over 6,700 fires that we had to battle this year, we are now battling … Or rather by contrast we battled just over 4,000 fires last year so this fire season has been very active and not surprisingly that activity has taken shape in a number of counties up and down the state of California. We’ve declared a statewide emergency yesterday which fundamentally helps us avail ourselves of resources to combat these fires, both within the state and in terms of our mutual aid system across the Western United States and I’ll talk more about that in a moment and obviously draw down federal support as well.
Gavin Newsom: (03:02)
Here’s where we are. Currently, we are battling some 367 known fires that are burning statewide and I say known fires because when you see this amount of lightning strikes, by the way it was June of 2008 where we had roughly half the number of lightning strikes, June 2008 is a memorable date here in the state of California, particularly here at the State Operations Center in the work Cal Fire had to do to address those lightning strikes, roughly half, 5,146 lightning strikes marked on that date compared to over 10,000 over the last few days here in the state. As those lightning strikes spark, as you have a lot of smoke, difficult time determining total number of fires until certain things clear and we have the opportunity to go to more remote parts of the state. So I say 367 known fires based on the lightning activity but the prospect of that number going up is very real.
Gavin Newsom: (04:08)
The number that is most impactful at least at the moment are the 23 major fires and what we describe as complexes of fires and that’s an area that has multiple fires, not concentrated together but concentrated and spaced apart but within a geographic, proximate geographic area that is proximate. And so 23 major fires that we are currently addressing aggressively through our efforts both the local, regional, and state and federal level. Let’s talk about some that we have highlighted over the course of the last number of days, the Apple Fire in and around Riverside County, you’ve seen the Lake and Ranch Fires around L.A. County, you can see the containment of some of those fires. Good progress, so much so in the Apple Fire that we’ve been able to pull resources from Southern California from the Apple Fire into Northern California where we’ve experienced the majority of these lightning strikes and new fires.
Gavin Newsom: (05:15)
You can see containment, the Lake Fire beginning to move in a direction that gives us confidence that we’ve got our arms around the conditions. You see a number of other fires with containment, when you get into that 30, 35, 40% range and you don’t have major conditions changing as it relates to wind conditions, humidity and the like, it gives you some confidence in the capacity of our frontline heroes to really take control of those conditions and mitigate the spread and the damage of those fires. They’re still active. They’re major fires, but we’re seeing some real containment, we’re seeing real progress.
Gavin Newsom: (05:54)
Here are the number of fires where we’re not yet seeing containment. Brand new fires, you see these lightning complex fires, the CZU which is in around San Mateo, Santa Cruz area. That’s a complex of fires, 22 fires within that complex, working aggressively to contain those fires. The LNU Lightning Complex similarly, number of different fires. This in around Lake County, Napa County, a little bit around Sonoma County. These fires break out, the Gamble Fire, Hennessey Fire, et cetera. Again, working aggressively to contain the environment in and around those fires. Carmel Fire and the Jones Fire which has got a lot of attention in around Grass Valley, Nevada City. That more of a grass brush fire at the moment. There’s been evacuations related to that. The 5% containment looks modest but there’s a sense of optimism as it relates to that fire. Again, that optimism can dissipate pretty quickly as the wind conditions change, humidity and other conditions change but nonetheless those are the larger fires that we are addressing in realtime. Again, 23, all up and down the state of California that we mark as “major fires”. Hundred of fires throughout the state of California because of this extraordinary weather that we’re experiencing and all of these lightning strikes.
Gavin Newsom: (07:32)
So look, this is what the state does. We are quite familiar with these challenges and everybody watching is quite familiar with the challenges of wildfires here in the state of California as well, but there’s no question, while last year we experienced some acuity of fires, the Kincade Fire, some others, Getty Fire and some others in Southern California, the total number of fires last year was substantially lower than the activity we’re experiencing this year and what has occurred over the last 72 hours has certainly stretched the resources of this state. That said, we are in a better state of preparedness. I have had multiple press conferences like this over the course of the last few months talking about some of our efforts on vegetation management, forest management. A few days ago we announced a new partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to match California’s commitment to address some of our vegetation and forest management by matching the total number of acreage that we are currently addressing each and every year. New partnerships forming with the U.S. Forest Service. In addition to the partnership we formed with the California legislature that year that provided us an additional, despite this historic challenge, with budget shortfalls, we were able to increase our budget for Cal Fire by $85.6 million to get and bring on permanent full-time firefighting force.
Gavin Newsom: (09:12)
In addition to that, recognizing that we started to see some activity after the budget was signed that was potentially … Well, it was leading to some indication we might be where we are here today. We supplemented with an additional $72.4 million. The availability of seasonal firefighters, the time we announced 858 seasonal firefighters we wanted to bring in to the total number of available Cal Fire personnel, 830 of those 858 have already been brought on. This is just over the course of the last few weeks. That supplemental commitment was timely and we certainly are now a beneficiary of some of those new firefighting resources.
Gavin Newsom: (10:06)
By the way, in addition to the Cal Fire personnel we brought on, we also tried to supplement some of our hand crews and some of the work at the California Conservation Corps and those corps members were part of that $72.4 million so they have come on board and they are out there on the front lines helping support our National Guardsmen and Women, supporting our local frontline personnel as well, some of our federal personnel. We have requested what we refer to as an EMAC, and this is our emergency assistance program with states all across the Western United States. We’ve now requested 375 EMAC [inaudible 00:10:53] to come from other states. I had the pleasure and I want to thank publicly Governor Ducey of Arizona for his support and they’ve sent equipment here to the state of California. Governor Sisolak in Nevada has sent equipment here into the state of California, a pending request that has been greenlighted by Governor Abbott, I want to thank him as well publicly in Texas, they will be sending some crews and some support.
Gavin Newsom: (11:23)
The stretch of these requests is not lost. [inaudible 00:11:27] this space when you have a West Coast heat wave, we have fire activity all across the western United States, putting pressure on those assets within the states and that includes up in the north, the Pacific North Coast and areas of Oregon and Washington State as well. So complicating this picture, challenging time, but one where again, we’re very familiar, we’re more than capable of stepping up and doing everything we can to meet the moment. World class firefighting force, world class equipment that we have made substantial investment over the course of the last four or five years to upgrade. I’ve spent many occasion with you out there highlighting some of the new firefighting suppression technology that we have, the new infrared camera systems, our capacity satellite technology, our aerial reconnaissance efforts that had been supplemented, supported with National Guard among others. The partnerships again, we have been forming locally and federally as well as some of these procurements that have been highlighted as it relates to some … Well no longer Vietnam War era suppression, [inaudible 00:12:49] Huey helicopters but now finally bringing on some of these new Black Hawk helicopters will allow faster time to suppression and allow more personnel as well as more safety and more firefighting suppression capacity and ultimately when the training is fully advanced will allow us some nighttime suppression as well.
Gavin Newsom: (13:10)
So putting everything we have on these fires, they’re stretched all across the state of California and we’re now getting the support of some of our partners in the Western United States and for that again, we are very grateful. This extraordinary weather event has also put pressure on our energy supply. That’s been self-evident with our flex alerts that we put out since Friday night. We experienced some de-energization on Friday and Saturday, but none on Sunday, none on Monday, and none on Tuesday. That is good news. We took action, aggressive action, Sunday, Monday as it relates to emergency orders and efforts, with executive orders to put into place, into practice a number of aggressive strategies to shift our energy –
Gavin Newsom: (14:03)
A number of aggressive strategies to shift our energy consumption here in the state of California, as well as temporarily utilize backup sources of power, peaker plants, and the like. We’ve worked with our partners, LADWP. We’ve worked with the state water partners to get more hydroelectricity into our portfolio. San Francisco Hetch Hetchy now providing more hydro resources today than they even were yesterday. I want to thank our providers, not only our investor owned utilities, but the providers out there that have done everything in their power to flex that power, particularly during the critical hours of 2:00 to 9:00 o’clock. And I’ve said 3:00 to 10:00 in the last few days, and that’s been accurate. Today, we are advancing a flex your power from 2:00 PM this afternoon to 9:00 PM. Today, we believe will be another challenging day, but we’re up to the task.
Gavin Newsom: (15:06)
You’re up to the task. You’ve proven that on Sunday night, you proved that on Monday, you proved that on Tuesday, last night. But we are looking at upwards of 47,000 plus megawatts of power full load today that may be utilized because of these high temperatures. Tomorrow, we believe that will drop down to about 45, 000 and on Friday to about 43,000. So tonight, we believe in the immediate is the last night we really need everybody to do everything in their power to flex their power use, power consumption. I’m going to show you a slide in a moment of what that entails individually. But again, I want to acknowledge the work that’s been done by some of the largest energy providers and producers and consumers in this state, not only the state of California and its operations being at pumping water, not just being the beneficiary of electricity procured from hydroelectric dams, but also the work that was done by Tesla.
Gavin Newsom: (16:16)
Some of their efforts by Chevron and by Marathon that really aided to our efforts. The Navy, I want to thank them for all their good work with their ships that are in port that generated a lot of use of electricity, or rather consume a lot of electricity that really met this moment and help support the efforts Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. So a lot of partners, a lot of participation, a lot of good work that’s been done by users and by the utilities, by each and every one of you that got us through these last few days in ways that were rather remarkable considering what many had anticipated. And so we want to thank all of you, those major consumers, for their reduction in usage. And again, I want to remind everybody that we have an investigation underway. We have a spirit of collaboration with the California Energy Commission, the PUC and the ISO, the California Independent System Operator.
Gavin Newsom: (17:21)
They, today, will be providing a response to my request of those three agencies in terms of their shared responsibility to forecast the need for megawatt usage, to look at exactly how and what’s necessary to procure and produce that as well as some of the application of the same through the Public Utilities Commission. And so we’re going to get some more clarification in that space, but a deeper investigation as it relates to the implications for the future so this will never happen again. And we are working aggressively to see to it that’s the case. I’ll remind people, I mentioned this yesterday, some public comments, that in a typical summer day we are using about 38,000 megawatts. Again, today with our flex of power, we’re looking as upwards of 47,000. To be exact, we’re projecting about 47,284 megawatts of energy being utilized here today. So over 47,000. Typically, would see about 38,000 megawatts on any summer day.
Gavin Newsom: (18:32)
And so we clearly have a lot of work to do. I’ll remind everybody of the importance of cooling your home, offices overnight, doing what you can to set your air conditioning to 78 degrees or higher. Again, particularly between the hours of 2:00 and 9:00 as it relates to what we project is the most important time period today. And try to do your best to avoid using your dishwasher, your dryer, your washing machine, major appliances during the hours of 9:00 and 10:00 to the extent possible. And we recognize not everyone can accommodate that, but the extent you can. It would certainly accommodate our efforts to get through what we think is the last challenging night as it relates to this energy use. We also want you, as always, to do what you can to turn off all the unnecessary lights that you possibly can. And I want to just thank you for everything you’ve in done the last few nights to do just that. I want to now turn to what’s happening with the total number of positive cases here in the state of California.
Gavin Newsom: (19:47)
We have challenges not only with energy challenges as it relates to conditions with wildfires, but we continue to be challenged by this pandemic. Here are updated case numbers. Some 6,164 numbers of people that we tested, tested positive in our last reporting period, the seven day average of 7,539. You can see the 14 day positivity rate’s at 6.6%. We’ve been testing on average now just shy of 120,000 individuals on a daily basis. It’s important to note the extent, it’s a milestone. We’ve now tested over 10 million people here in the state of California. 10.1 million people have been tested in this state. So positivity rate over a 14 day period at 6.6%. To the extent we get asked often, and I comment often, the seven day positivity is at 6.3%. So 6.3%, seven day positivity. 6.6%, 14 day positivity. We’ve seen a decrease in the total number of hospitalizations over that same 14 day period. Roughly, 17% decrease in hospitalizations.
Gavin Newsom: (21:10)
I should note, hospitalizations went down 0.1% yesterday, 0.1%. They went up modestly the day before. You can see from this graft that we’re seeing a little bit of stabilization in terms of the decline or plateauing of sorts in terms of the decline in hospitalizations. And so while the last few weeks we’ve seen some very positive direction. Last few days, again, few days does not in and of itself, make a trend. Certainly shouldn’t generate headlines, but is an important point of caution and consideration as it relates to our efforts to reduce the stress in our healthcare delivery system. By the way, that stress represents 7% of total number of hospitalized patients in the system are represented as COVID 19 positive patients. Hospitalizations have been going down. ICUs have also been going down. ICU admissions down 13% in the last 14 days. Hospitalizations dropped 0.1% yesterday. Full 1% drop in ICUs yesterday.
Gavin Newsom: (22:23)
But not dissimilar to hospitalizations, we have seen, again, last few days bouncing a little bit up, a little bit down in the ICUs, hospitals. Again, same ICU admissions represent now 19% of total, meaning COVID-19 positive patients represent 19% of our ICU admissions in the state. You recall, 23% week or two ago, 22. Now at 19%. We have 40 today on the monitoring list. Again, this is a dynamic list. People come off, people come on. We had 42 on Monday. The two counties that have dropped off since Monday, these are very encouraging signs, is San Diego County and Placer County. It is expected, for the purposes of transparency, we expect if all things being equal that it’s likely as early as tomorrow. Though we’ll see exactly as the numbers come in, that San Francisco will be added to that list. That is not the case today. But it looks as if they’re in a position, three plus days, to get off of that monitoring list.
Gavin Newsom: (23:39)
We would then have 39 of our 58 counties on that list. So we want to see this list, go down to zero. If we can continue to see that trend line in hospitalizations and ICUs, see that positivity rate, that seven day of 6.3% continue to drop, get below 5% and some stabilization over an extended period of time. 14, as long as 21 days, then we are in the position that all of us look forward to being in terms of the modification of a lot of our, well, stay at home and business rules and operational requirements that substantially, I think, address people’s anxiety about this being a permanent state. This is not a permanent state. We will see a decrease in the transmission. We are seeing a decrease in the transmission of COVID-19 and we are doing everything to prepare for what many believe is a second wave later this fall.
Gavin Newsom: (24:45)
And mark my words that we will work our way through that, navigate through that to high quality therapeutics and immunization and move forward once again, more resilient than ever, more robust and more capable as a society and economy moving forward into the new year. With that, as always, remind you, best way to forward and advance that cause, a collective cause, that unites all of us regardless of where you stand on the issue of wearing a mask or where you stand in physical distance to one another and whether or not you practice the kind of hygiene that we encourage. I think all of us universally look forward to getting to that place and the fastest way of doing so is to do what you can to responsibly wear a mask, to responsibly physically distance, socially distance from others. Continue to practice that good hygiene.
Gavin Newsom: (25:40)
And of course, try to minimize as much as you can the kind of mixing that we often see and obviously is tempting as it relates to the heat and the activities that so many of us look forward to on a daily basis, but many on weekend basis as we battle the elements here in this state. So look, we are challenged right now by number of new fires all over the state of California. We’ve put out every resource we have. We have incredible mutual aid program here in the state. We have outstanding leadership and key positions in this state. Mark Ghilarducci running our office here of emergency services. This is the state operations center. It is fully staffed with people providing mutual aid of every conceivable sort here, all under one roof, monitoring the situation. This dynamic situation in real-time led by Thom Porter, Chief Porter at CAL FIRE.
Gavin Newsom: (26:44)
And they are doing everything in their power to meet the needs of not only keeping power on in this state, but powering through this very dynamic moment as it relates to wildfires. And again, continuing to keep our eyes squarely focused on mitigating the spread of COVID-19. So that’s the update for today. As always, happy to take any questions.
Speaker 1: (27:10)
Adam Beam, Associated Press.
Adam Beam: (27:11)
Governor, a private high school in Sacramento resumed in-person instruction after the school reclassified it’s teachers as daycare workers. I was wondering if your administration has seen other schools across the state do this? And are you worried it’ll become a loophole for schools to defy your public health order?
Gavin Newsom: (27:31)
I haven’t seen that in terms of its scale and spreads. The answer’s no. I have not seen that. Each one of these instances is unique and distinctive. Last, I think, few days ago, Monday, there was question about a particular school in Fresno, California. So in every community, well, there’s over 1000 school districts in this state, you’re going to see some different approaches, different strategies. You’re going to see people testing the boundaries of some of these state orders as is the-
Gavin Newsom: (28:03)
The boundaries of some of these state orders as is the case in most of these instances. I want to thank the local health officers, the city and county leaders for their fortitude, for their diligence, for their enforcement in this space, and encourage them to continue to do that again, for no other reason than we want to keep our kids safe and we want to keep our paraprofessionals safe, our teachers safe. We have a protocol. We have a process where people are not on that monitoring list. Over 14 day period, where they can provide in-person learning. We look forward to getting all of our kids back into that environment. And the quickest and fastest way to do that is to abide by local health officer directives, abide by the science, abide by the overwhelming evidence, not just here in the United States, but around the rest of the world to do it in a safe and responsible way.
Gavin Newsom: (29:01)
And always consider the background rates of infections and the community spread of this virus, and how impactful that is to the activities within any of the school sites. And that’s why we want to remain vigilant, that’s why we put so much time and energy into putting out our guidelines, and that’s why we encourage those that are doing the right thing to continue to practice and to be the example that all of us want to see in this state.
Speaker 2: (29:32)
Sofia Bollag, Sacramento Bee.
Sofia Bollag: (29:37)
Hi, governor. You had said that you were willing to take the $300 and unemployment benefits that the president has offered. Can you give us an update on where that stands? When can Californians expect to get checks and what’s sort of the status of California actually accepting that money?
Gavin Newsom: (29:57)
So we’ve been in active engagement with the federal administration. We have been working to work through their protocols and procedures. We’re still waiting for a little bit more clarity and guidance, but we’re doing everything in terms of our application process to meet their needs and hope and expectations to be among the first cohort of states to draw down that federal money. And so we’ve been leaning into that. I’m not walking away. There are some states, notable states said we’re not interested. We from day one asserted an interest and we have processed that interest in formal conversations and formal applications with our federal partners, and we’re going back and forth on those details. And as soon as we have clarity from the Feds, we will make public exactly when those dollars will be forthcoming.
Speaker 2: (30:47)
Rachel Becker, CALmatters.
Rachel Becker: (30:48)
Hey, governor. We’re seeing extreme heat, wildfire smoke and the pandemic hitting Californians with lower income people being hit, especially hard. What is being done to help low income people cope with these triple whammy?
Gavin Newsom: (31:06)
Yeah. Example, yesterday, I was with Mayor Darrell Steinberg. Let me give you a specific proof point of what is being done. We were at a cooling center in Sacramento, California, one of three he has in his city, one of hundreds that exists and persists all across the state of California. It’s an example of what is being done at the local level with support and assistance to the extent necessary by the state and county partners to support just those kinds of activities. Particularly not just low-income, but no income individuals, people out in the streets and sidewalks and the under passes that need a little respite from the elements. We met a number of people yesterday that just needed an hour to cool off and to get water. Others that spent more than that, but also spent time with social workers, spent time getting information about how they can avail themselves to more permanent supports as well.
Gavin Newsom: (32:06)
So part and parcel of larger strategy, larger plans, but these cooling centers are foundational in that effort and are specific example, the work that is being done in the state.
Speaker 2: (32:17)
Phil Willon, LA Times.
Phil Willon: (32:20)
Hi, governor. In your emergency declaration from the fires, you noted that our mutual aid system was under strain. That combined with a reduction in prison fire crews has some people saying that we were short of firefighters for these outbreaks. Is that true and should we have been better prepared?
Gavin Newsom: (32:42)
Well, the exact opposite. You recall, I had a press conference a few months ago highlighting this point and rather lamenting about it. We prepared for it. It’s exactly a specific and specifically exactly why we did a supplemental of $72.4 million to hire an additional 858 seasonal firefighters, 830 now that have already been hired over just the course of the last few weeks. So specifically because of that concern, we went out, we made public that new proposal, that new plan. We were able to draw down those dollars, we were able to post those job openings, we were able to train and hire those people, and we were getting them out on the front lines.
Speaker 2: (33:24)
[inaudible 00:33:26], The Desert Sun.
Speaker 3: (33:29)
Good afternoon, governor. The California Department of Public Health has received a letter from Riverside County seeking to open up more businesses in early September. They say they can do so safely without accelerating spread of the virus. They also want to see the state raise the threshold for getting off that targeted engagement list to 14%. What’s your response to their requests? And would you consider changing the metrics to allow more reopening with what you’re seeing with virus data at this time?
Gavin Newsom: (33:55)
Yeah, we made it crystal on multiple occasions, on Monday and last week as well that we’re working with local health officers all up and down the state on new criteria, more prescriptive criteria, more dynamic criteria as it relates to any subsequent change of our health order statewide, as it relates to reopening certain business sectors in this state. We have been working on drafts back and forth with not only our state partners, but now with our local partners. We’ll be socializing that more formally over this weekend with our local health officers and we’ll be making public next week the details of our strategies as it relates to reopening when we see the data stabilize based on new criteria, new conditions that we’re setting forth.
Gavin Newsom: (34:43)
But those will come from the state of California and we will assert a framework of clarity and a framework that is adopted in the spirit of collaboration and partnership with health officers, but with the recognition of an understanding that we have today, based upon what we’ve seen around the rest of the world, around the rest of the state and our own experiences going back a number of months.
Speaker 2: (35:07)
Patrick Healy, NBC4.
Patrick Healy: (35:11)
Thank you much. Governor, you touched on this earlier, but can you take a moment to address the momentousness of this moment in time for the state of California facing so many simultaneous devastating emergencies? And do we need fundamental paradigm shifts for dealing with them? For power, do we need to convert immediately to consumer demand pricing? For wildfires, do we need to start depopulating the suburban wildfire wilderness interface? Do we need to take dramatic steps like that?
Gavin Newsom: (35:48)
Yeah. Well, we’ve been processing a lot of new protocols and new guidelines, strategies, expectations. A lot of that came out of our work that we did very specifically with getting PG&E out of bankruptcy. You’ll note in this building, many occasions, in other settings, we put out a framework of what we’re looking forward to as it relates to our energy policy in the state to have more price sensitive procurement, address the issue of reliability, address the issue of our grid, a more dynamic, more flexible strategy as we transition and continue that transition to 100% renewables here in the state of California by 2045. We laid out in detailed terms some of those strategies. We’re going to be bringing you much more information in that space, including the wildland-urban interface question that you offered, the WUI, as it’s often referred to, and some of the interaction of concerns with our wildlands and a lot of construction that goes back, including a house my father has had for over half a century.
Gavin Newsom: (36:56)
Goes back to the gold rush era that is part of that WUI and obviously, is more vulnerable than ever to climate change, climate disruption and the experiences we’ve been having over the course of the last decade in particular with wildfires in the state. So it relates to the future, generally. It’s a dynamic period of time. It’s an enlivening period of time. It’s a challenging period of time, but that’s been the history since Horace Greeley said, go West young man, go West, in 1850. There’s a dynamism in the state of California. You can go back, I think Time Magazine did a cover story in 1994, talking about wildfires in the state, and we have to completely change the paradigm of our entire way of life and thinking in the state of California because of demographics, because of IT, because of the time, the appearance of what they referred to as globalization.
Gavin Newsom: (37:49)
And so it’s the nature of life, it’s dynamic, and we have to be adaptable and we have to be flexible. And so that’s exactly the approach we’re taking. This is an incredibly resilient state. We will get through this moment in time as we have in the past. And in many of these conditions, while they may be stacked up on top of each other, are familiar and there are protocols, processes, procedures in place, and there is longterm thinking to go to the spirit of your question that also has been taking place. And we’re not going to back off our commitment to make real a lot of the things that we have been promoting and we have been advancing here in the state of California. But I’m proud of this state. We love to say about this state, the future happens here first. Some of the challenges are expressed here first, but more importantly, the solutions to those challenges, the answers to these difficult questions are advanced here first in the state of California.
Speaker 2: (38:55)
Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC.
Spencer C.: (38:59)
Hi, governor. Thanks for taking our questions. In Orange County, the virus trend looks like the county could be moving off the watch list soon, and building on some previous questions, I know you just mentioned they’ll be updated guidelines, business sector re-openings and things like that coming out next week. But speaking with some epidemiologists and infectious disease experts at the University of California, Irvine, they are wondering if state officials are going to look at if schools do reopen, not only elementary school, but also middle school and high schools, if those do reopen, will some of the business sectors be put on hold so case rates can be monitored for two to three weeks to see if there’s an outbreak. And also, can you give us an idea on what types of sectors might be allowed to reopen as counties move off the watch list?
Gavin Newsom: (39:48)
Yeah. So I think the spirit of your question also, the question has in it the embers of answers. Yes, we do anticipate having a period of process protocols that are put in place that have a time element to allow us the EpiData that gives us more confidence in the background spread and the community spread of this disease. It has been traditional to look at a 14 day period. Some of the epidemiologists we’re meeting with at the UC, through the UC system, others all across this country that we engage in on a consistent basis, not just our own personnel here at the state, but we source from people of diverse backgrounds and diverse points of view in this space. I’ve extended some consideration, particularly as it relates to sectorally reopening certain businesses in our economy of the concern of doing so with a little bit more time for consideration.
Gavin Newsom: (40:45)
And that’s why I referenced a moment ago, maybe oblique, maybe it wasn’t picked up by everyone, 14 potentially up to 21 days. So we’re in the process of distilling the generation, or rather the essence of the generation of all of that back and forth and engagement, the commentary and putting it into our guidelines and protocols. And again, working with local health officials to make them a little bit more precise and get all of their feedback on the unique conditions in Orange County, Ventura County, LA County, San Diego County, any county in this state. And we want to make sure that we’re flexible to their needs as well. We deeply desire to reopen this economy fully and we deeply recognize the stress that businesses are under. I’ll take a back seat to no one in my desire to do so, but to do so safely and with the application of a sober, a soberness that is based upon the experience, not just of the state, but the experience you’re seeing around the world that if you do it, you have to do it very judiciously, very thoughtfully.
Gavin Newsom: (41:57)
And so a deeper emphasis on how to do it. The modifications and the-
Gavin Newsom: (42:03)
… on how to do it, the modifications and the expectations that are needed from all of us to do it in a way that’s sustainable, not just episodic, where we’re going back into a stay at home frame as we approach the fall and the prospects of a second wave.
Speaker 4: (42:18)
Melanie Woodrow, KGO.
Melanie Woodrow: (42:22)
Thank you, governor. Some firefighters here in Northern California have just said that there’s a lack of resources for them. Southern California had broken first that they’re not getting the support they need. What’s being done to make sure that there are enough resources up and down the state?
Gavin Newsom: (42:40)
Well, that’s exactly why we have this EMAC process. That’s why we have 375 requests out there. It’s why I noted the support, Governor Ducey, Governor Sisolak from Arizona, Nevada. I’m grateful for the resources that will be coming in from Texas. That’s exactly why we did the supplemental for 858 new peak time seasonal Cal Fire Workforce. It’s exactly why we put $85.6 million of additional resources baseline for full time workforce here at Cal Fire. That’s why we’ve been putting billions, quite literally, billions of dollars over the course of the last number of years into procuring more equipment, establishing even stronger relationships with FEMA and our partners up and down the State of California, and the exceptional mutual aid system that I’ll put up against any state, anywhere in the world. Quite literally, people come from all over the world to this building to learn about the California example, but let me also make this point.
Gavin Newsom: (43:45)
It’s the point you’re making. We are experiencing fires, the likes of which we haven’t seen in many, many years. The totality, when you consider 367 active fires that we are aware of all across the State of California. And again, when the smoke starts clearing, the conditions avail themselves with all the reconnaissance that’s being done all across the state with federal partners, with national partnerships, through our national guard and state assets, we’ll have more clarity on that over the course of the next number of hours and days. That is a resource challenge where they are stretched in ways where we haven’t seen in the last few years.
Gavin Newsom: (44:27)
Good news is, the good news, the concentration that we experienced, just as an example in the Kincade fire, where we had to put all our resources and we’re able to do that because we didn’t have the total number of fires, the ferocity and the damage done to lives and property in that instance, and the instance of many other fires that are well-documented, not least of which, thank God, bless all of them. Campfire is such that we are not yet experiencing those conditions with many of these lightning fires, more remote. And while we have to maintain some vigilance, that means nothing to folks around the Jones fire and the folks around the [inaudible 00:45:15] fire. Obviously, concerns Monterey, the River fire, and others where we are evacuating people. We’re doing everything in our power to provide that assistance.
Gavin Newsom: (45:24)
So look, we’re looking forward to things cooling down in the West Coast of the United States. We’re anticipating that it’s going to help with our energy procurement, allow us to work through we’re not having these flex alerts every single night. Accordingly, we think that will also help advance these EMAC requests and get even more resources into the State of California.
Speaker 4: (45:45)
Alex [inaudible 00:03:45], SF Chronicle.
Hi, governor. Over the last few years, we’ve seen local firefighting agencies increasingly rejecting mutual aid requests over concerns they would need the resources in their own communities. Are you seeing a similar problem this year? And is that contributing to the need to turn out of state for such a large request of assistance? I mean, the number seems to be growing rapidly. I’d heard 125 engines just this morning and now it’s 375. So are there problems with the local mutual aid system that are contributing to that?
Gavin Newsom: (46:23)
No. Again, it’s just how stretched up and down this state the vast majority of counties that are experiencing because of these lightning strikes, all of these fires. I’ll just note, and then I’ll remind you the slide I showed you, the challenge that we’ve had over the last week in LA County, Riverside County. How we’ve been able to really tackle the Apple fire and the work that’s been done with our mutual aid system. It’s exceptional and they’ve made tremendous progress in that space.
Gavin Newsom: (46:53)
Accordingly, we will make tremendous progress I assure you with some of these other large scale fires here in the State of California, but the mutual aid system at this moment is working as it’s designed. And it is not designed to be perfect in every way, shape, or form because localism maintains a determination, meaning local authorities maintain discretion as it relates to what they provide and what they support. And I recognize that as a former mayor, particularly of San Francisco, and that’s just part of the protocols and processes. But we’re putting everything we can, mutual aid locally, and requesting that EMAC process mutual aid from other states.
Speaker 4: (47:33)
Final question, Colby [inaudible 00:05:37], Politico.
Yes, hi, governor, thank you so much. I want to ask you a question about solar and storage. What can the state do now to bridge now when we have lots of solar, but not enough storage and the future when storage will be more caught up with solar?
Gavin Newsom: (47:59)
Yeah, look, substantively, a big part, not the only part, but a substantial part of the solution as it relates to our bridge to a low carbon green growth future is dealing with the question of storage. We generate an enormous amount of electricity from solar, more than we even utilize in peak periods. The problem is in those off peak periods, when the sun goes down, our incapacity to store at the scale that we need to, in order to achieve our 100% goals self-evidently has been strained and stressed. Good news, just as an example, just yesterday in and around San Diego County, there is a new solar storage facility that’s come up 230 megawatts that are online today. And as much as 250, when it’s fully operational.
Gavin Newsom: (48:50)
I believe that to be one of the largest solar storage facilities of its type anywhere in the world. So this state has been on the leading cutting edge of creating price signals. Policy is an accelerant. Good public policy, and we’ve advanced it in the state as it relates to our climate goals of accelerated investment, innovation, job creation in this space. But we are in a transition and obviously reliability was stretched and strained on Friday and Saturday and continues to be strained here today. And we obviously can not allow this to be a permanent state of anxiety. And so, we are going to be more aggressive than ever, pushing forward our efforts on more storage capacity, but also looking at reliability defined more broadly as a bridge, as an insurance to get us where I believe the vast majority of Californians, and I believe a vast majority of Americans want us to go. We’re not going to back away from those longterm commitments. The solution to addressing the ravages of climate change is not to make the climate change even more acute and more devastating by continuing to drill, continuing to go back into the old ways of doing business, that by definition, have created the conditions that exist and persist today.
Gavin Newsom: (50:19)
The answer is to mitigate that, to lead, and we will continue to mitigate. We will continue to lead in that space. Solar storage, foundational in that effort. Accordingly, I will continue to update you on what is happening all across the State of California. I just want to close by reminding you not just about wearing your masks, which is foundational, but also on this flex alert between the hours now, 2:00 and 9:00 PM. If you could, and again, I know it’s a lot to ask. We have a lot of asks in terms of mask wearing, physical distancing, but now asking if you come home, just the back of your mind, if you can remind yourself, just turn that thermometer up a little bit, or rather turn up the air conditioning 78 degrees or higher. You’ll save money. You’ll not only save energy, but you also help us, sum total, those individual acts will help us get it through this last night that we anticipate will be perhaps more challenging than the nights we are anticipating over the course of the next days, weeks, months, and years ahead. And so, please consider that.
Gavin Newsom: (51:32)
And also as always, continue to do the good work we’ve done as a state to address the spread of COVID-19. We’ll be back soon to update you on all of the above. As always, thank you for the privilege of your time.