Jul 24, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom July 24 Press Conference Transcript
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Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:47)
Well, good afternoon. I wanted to update folks today on some trends that are self evident to many, but perhaps not enough. And that is the relationship of this virus to specific and particular populations in the State of California that are being disproportionately impacted by the spread of COVID-19.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (02:07)
We’ve talked a lot over the course the last number of weeks, months about the importance we place on personal responsibility to wear face coverings, to wear face masks. The concern that has been expressed by many, certainly not just those representing the State of California, but all across the country, that so often we let our guard down that we may be mixing outside of our households, either in large congregate events or even in your own backyard. Where extended family members come over. We may begin by wearing our face coverings, but within an hour or two, as we get to the cooler to have a drink and eat some food, the masks now are put aside, the kids start congregating and we put ourselves in a position where it’s more, not less likely that we’ll see an increase in the spread and the transmission of the virus.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (03:04)
Multi-generational households in particular are vulnerable, particularly from an age cohort perspective to the ravages of this virus and those types of environments. We’ve talked a lot about the challenges in congregate facilities, congregate settings, from homeless shelters to skilled nursing facilities, residential care, adult daycare facilities throughout the State of California, and clearly in our corrections institution, not only at the state level, but at the county level as well.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (03:35)
Not enough focus, candidly, has been placed on essential workers in this state. And for us to be able to be successful in terms of stopping the spread of COVID-19, extinguishing COVID-19, which we will do, it depends on our ability to keep our essential workers safe. Who are these essential workers? This slide I think is profoundly important, and I hope you’ll take a good look at it. Those that may be listening that don’t have the benefit of the slide we’re putting up, it’s self evident to many people that we demanded, even with our state home order, certain sectors of our economy to remain open. We deemed them essential. Grocery stores, food delivery, truck driving, warehousing, logistics, the foundational principles of any free society. The foundational needs that we all have in terms of basic health needs, basic food and shelter needs. So we relied on millions and millions of essential workers. That’s even with the stay at home order.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (04:42)
What wasn’t identified as I think acutely as it needs to be identified is not only the sacrifices of those workers, and we’ve made a point of trying to do more to support our essential workforce in the past as it relates to providing a support, number of things that I’ll be talking about here today, but we didn’t get under the hood to state the obvious. And that is overwhelming majority, you’ll see in certain sectors of our economy are disproportionately represented in the Latino community, in the Black and Asian community. Look at farm workers, that may not surprise many people, 93% of that workforce being Latinx, Latino community.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (05:25)
But look at construction laborers, look at the cooks and the food preparation workers, look at our critical workforce. Our truck drivers and cashiers, over half of the cashiers in the state are represented in the Latino demographic. And that’s the community that increasingly and disproportionately has been impacted. Not only by the spread of the virus, but the mortality related to the spread of the virus. It’s not exclusive, again, I’m not suggesting by any stretch it’s just exclusive to one segment of our society, it crosses all segments of society, essential workers. But it is disproportionate.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (06:03)
And so when people ask, as they often do, where are we seeing the spread? This is where we’re seeing the spread. Essential workforce, disproportionately represented by the Latino, Latinx community. And that slide, I think, only reinforces and underscores the imperative of us to increase and build on the work we’ve done, increase the effort and target our acuity of focus in terms of protecting these essential workers that we have foundationally come to rely on. Even as we pull back some of the modifications we made at stay at home order, this essential workforce remains the bedrock, the backbone of those that are providing foundational, fundamental services to the State of California.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (06:49)
So here’s what we’re announcing today, is additional worker safeguards to protect this workforce, to focus again, always on preventative measures, to focus on helping support our employers that have been overwhelmingly well, they have been overwhelmingly supportive of these efforts. And we want to continue to work in the spirit of collaboration and partnership with our employer community to educate, not only employers large and small, but to help them educate employees as well.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (07:22)
We want to extend some longer lasting workers’ protections. I referenced a moment ago, some of the previous work we had done to support our essential workers. We want to build on some of that previous work, a lot were done with executive orders, a lot were done building on the CARES Act and what has come from the federal government. A lot of those things as you’re very familiar, including unemployment insurance has expiration dates, which has put more acuity of focus on this time of the year, meaning end of July, where a lot of these things are expiring, into August, September where other extended supports are also expiring and the need to reengage in a more vigorous conversation, at least here in the state with our California Legislature and the federal government clearly with Congress and the White House.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (08:14)
Let’s talk about the preventative measures. Foundationally, the most important thing we can do is if someone is sick or feeling sick or has been exposed to the virus, we’ve got to give them the supports where they have the ability to isolate, the ability in some cases to quarantine. That may be easy in certain segments of society, certain cohorts that have the resources, maybe have the space, household space, may have the capacity to go to a second home in maybe one instance, or even to expand part of their personal property and segment it off from other members’ families. Others are stacked on top of each other, three, four people live in some cases, quite literally in the same rooms.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (08:57)
I’ll never forget a family in San Francisco I visited at a single room occupancy hotel in the Tenderloin. Went in to the room and there were only beds on the floor. There was no space that wasn’t filled with a bed. There was literally eight people living in less than a hundred square feet, stacked up quite literally on top and next to each other, a family. Just reinforces the exposure in that instance, what are we doing for those folks that are out there as bus drivers and folks out there as truck drivers. Folks, that case may have been working at a grocery store. If they are exposed or sick, we need to ensure that they can isolate and they can quarantine.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (09:43)
So today we are announcing some new efforts, additional efforts in this space. We had some temporary efforts in terms of providing supports for a hotel room subsidies and the like, we want to expand that. Talked a lot about Project Room Key, point of pride, as it relates to the work we’ve done for homeless. We want to build on the room key model and we want to extend it to those that may need that support to be isolated and quarantined. So we’re opening up a portfolio and identifying additional assets within that portfolio to provide expanded opportunities in that space, more resources in that space.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (10:21)
Accordingly, we focus on that chart a moment ago, on terms of agricultural workers. We have to do more to support some 626,000 crop workers that come into this state and live here year round in the State of California, 626,000 crop workers in the state. You have a lot of temporary housing as relates to the seasonal workforce. Done a lot down in Monterey increasingly now, not just on the California central coast, but now in California central valley, we need to do more for our agricultural and farm workers. And so, we have a housing and harvest partnership that demonstrably led by providing facilities, providing access to quarantine and isolate individual farm workers in Monterey. We’re going to build on that. They’ve done an incredible job in this state, supporting ag workers and farm workers, agricultural workforce and farm workers.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (11:20)
I want to thank the ag industry. They’ve been very supportive of that program and we’re going to expand access to that program and provide more supports particularly in the central valley, not just the central coast in the State of California. And that’s something else we will be doing, and I can’t press upon you more, when you go to the grocery store and you have the abundance that doesn’t exist in almost any other part of the globe at the scale and scope it does here in a dense, urban setting, at least a markable place we call home here, California. You go to that store and you see that abundance. Don’t forget the folks that made sure to make that abundance available to you. And we have to make sure that we have an abundant mindset in terms of helping support these workers and make sure that they’re safe, they’re healthy because of the essential nature of their incredible contribution to the state and our nation.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (12:21)
Accordingly, we need to build a public awareness campaign. We’ve done a lot with our mask campaign. We did a lot of PSA campaigns in the past, going back many, many months, significantly increased our digital, radio and television ads. You may be seeing some of them related to masks. Now we want to increase that campaign to reach more employers, workers, as well as families, a know your rights campaign. Basically, educate individuals about guidelines, about what we’ve been putting out in terms of sectors and how to keep people healthy and safe.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (12:56)
If I reflect back with objectivity, and I’ll often do this, one must, because you can’t be ideological about any of these endeavors. When we began to reopen our economy, we focused so much on when, but we didn’t focus enough on how to not only do it, but to educate individuals, not just the sectors in our economy, the business owners in our economy, but individuals about what those guidelines are.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (13:26)
I recognize that, and we have a responsibility to now, really call that out and do more in this space. And that’s exactly what we’ll be doing, building on the existing public awareness campaign, but a whole new scale. We’ve been talking to legislative leaders about some support. We’ve obviously generated, I’ve made this point on many occasions, a lot of philanthropic support in this effort, as well as federal support in this effort. We’re now going to step up those efforts in a much more targeted and a much more focused way. Part of that education, again, as I said, is not just educating families and employees, but also educating our incredible employers.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (14:12)
Just on more details around the guidance we put out. It’s one thing to put out guidance as an employer. I know this intimately, the state may send us a lot of information, but we’re dealing with the crisis of the day and our P & L statements, taxes and fees and this and that, everything else. And now we stack seven, eight, 10 pages of new guidance. It’s difficult to get through all that. So we’re putting out these new handbooks today that just simplify the guidance, make it easier for our employers to get that information, be able to share that information. We’re also looking at best practices, sharing those best practices and the like. I want to thank my Jobs and Economic Recovery Task Force. They’ve been so instrumental for months, helping us work, because it’s truly a representative group of business leaders on helping us with the guidance, but they also-
Governor Gavin Newsom: (15:03)
Business leaders on helping us with the guidance, but they also made a point which I agreed with, and now we’re socializing with you, that we could do more to simplify that handbook, that guidance and offer more guidance around best practices. So we are advancing a much more proactive education effort to help businesses comply. It’s not about being punitive. It’s about educating for compliance, and that includes testing information that we announced a few weeks ago. Dr. Ghaly announced some new testing criteria in the state. We’re moving forward with advancing those. But one of the most critical is the fact that health plans now have responsibility to pick up costs associated with testing for employees, and we want to make sure that becomes more, well, more [inaudible 00:15:49] we want to see that more universal in terms of its application, but we also need to educate folks on some of those new strategies and new opportunities in terms of testing. So that’s the purpose of the handbook that we’re putting out today and new tutorials and Q&A’s that we’ll be putting out to build and support the same.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (16:12)
So it relates to the efforts to ensure more long lasting protections. We want to work, as the slide explains, to expand our workers protections and build on those existing executive orders that I referenced. But here’s the difference this time. We have gaps in our paid sick leave in the state of California. I’ll give you just four examples, specifically. Healthcare workers, frontline, well, first responders, those where you have big critical outbreaks, and employers 500 employees or more were not included in the federal supports. That’s a gap in the sick leave space. Now we closed that gap a few weeks ago with our workers’ comp and sick leave executive orders, but those are due to expire.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (17:02)
We’ve had great conversations with the legislature, legislative leaders. There’s been a number of legislators that have introduced legislation to codify some of what we put out in the executive orders. Others want to go further, some want to offer their own perspective, and we’re very grateful for that leadership and we’ve been having some wonderful conversations with the leadership of both the assembly and the state senate. We are committed to a process, have been and continued to be, and we want to now make this more abundantly clear, more publicly, to move quickly now to strengthen through this legislative partnership our paid sick leave, as well as our workers’ comp for at-risk workers.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (17:44)
Again, we want to open the economy quickly. People that are feeling sick, people that may be sick, we don’t want them going to work and infecting other people, having a big outbreak. We’re now a factory here, meat processing plant, fill in the blank, any business has to shut down, bar, restaurant, even if they’re doing bars, [inaudible 00:18:05] restaurants doing even outdoor dining. If the chef comes in not feeling well or the sous chef, dishwasher, whoever, busboys, you want to give them the protection so that you can be protected and customers can be protected. That’s why the worker’s comp is so foundational in any economic recovery in the state. This is truly when we’re all in it together, employer, employee, consumers, the public generally. So these are critical in terms of protections for our economic vibrancy, our economic recovery, and for protecting essential workers.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (18:40)
So we’re going to be aggressively engaged in an effort and building on some legislation that has been introduced and building on some of the work we already did on the executive orders as it relates to workers’ comp and paid sick leave and filling in those gaps that were not provided by the federal government. We’re also going to be a little more strategic. We talk a lot about enforcement, again, for me enforcement, it’s not about being punitive, it’s about compliance, and I say that because I mean that. This is not ready, fire aim. It’s ready, aim, fire. We want to support people coming into compliance.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (19:16)
Same time, you got to call out bad actors, people that simply dismiss, don’t care for whatever reason or just don’t agree. I respect people’s differences of opinion, but when it comes to impacting your health and the health of our economy in the medium and longterm in terms of our ability to reopen by suppressing the transmission of the virus, we have to be a little bit more targeted. So we’re going to be doing some more strategic enforcement of our labor laws, and we’ve got a series of very specific strategies that we’ll be putting out, waiving some of the timelines.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (19:50)
Here’s a mystery to me, may not be for others, but you may not be as familiar with it either, and that is it could take six plus months to move an enforcement action. Well, six months in the midst of a pandemic, how many people can be exposed to this virus? How many people’s lives could be quite literally put at risk? So we’ve got to constrain that timeline, but again, in the spirit of an open hand, not a closed fist and that’s foundational. So to all the business leaders out there, trust me, I hear you.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (20:22)
We’re not trying to target enforcement to just be punitive, but we are trying to deal with the time, manner and place concerns we have around extinguishing this virus as quick as we can, and the need to go after folks that make some members in certain industries look bad when they may be the exception, certainly not the rule, but we’ve got to hold some of those folks to a higher level of expectation and cooperation, and to the extent, accountability as well. One way we can improve accountability is focusing on strengthening our employer reporting of outbreaks. We’re also working with the legislature on this.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (21:05)
It is an interesting fact, you don’t have a requirement as an employer to connect to your local health officer if you’ve had an outbreak in your business, often that comes circuitously. It may take some time, there’s a delay, and that hurts our efforts to go in and isolate, quarantine, trace those contacts and potentially help support expansion of testing. So we think that strengthening of employer reporting is also very, very important in this environment as well. So those are the broad strokes of what we’re doing to help support our essential workers, what we have done, but building on what we have done. We’re more targeted, we’re more focused, and certainly in the spirit of our times, spirit of collaboration with the legislature. We look forward to updating you on the progress on all those areas very soon.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (22:03)
But speaking of updating, we do on a consistent basis update you on the total case numbers as it relates to COVID-19. We tested over 137,000 people yesterday, close to 138,000 people yesterday. When we conducted those tests, 9,718 individuals tested positive for COVID-19. As I said, a while many look to the day to day, we tend to look at some of these seven day, 14 day averages. That’s why we pair the average seven day, 9,881 number with yesterday’s report on case numbers, 9,718. Let’s get under the hood on those numbers. Take a look at them.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (22:49)
I mentioned, we tested close to 138,000 people yesterday. You’ll see the average number of tests over the last seven days, north of 124,000. We will, yes, continue to work to get those testing numbers up. I don’t know many states that are testing as many people, but as my mom used to say, “Don’t compete or yourself to others.” So we’ve got to mark a responsibility as the nation’s largest state to do more and I recognize our responsibility to do more testing. So does Dr. Ghaly. That’s why he announced on multiple occasions our efforts in that space, including by the way, the encouraging news on testing as it relates the FDA finally moving on pooled testing.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (23:35)
So we’ll be pushing that very, very aggressively. We’re working collaboratively with Kaiser and Sutter Healthcare Systems who have been incredible partners with our efforts to date. We also have incredible leadership at UCSD and notable leadership at Stanford and UCLA. I want to just make a personal point to thank governor Gray Davis who’s been real champions for some of the pooled testing efforts and has had strong relationship that he’s been able to coordinate with and provide support of with UCLA in particular. So you’re going to be hearing a lot more about pooled testing. It’s something we’ve talked about in the past. We finally got those approvals from the feds. Some are still pending, but we want to start moving Quest as one of our national labs. They’re going to be doing most of their pooled testing back east first, but that’s not going to delay our efforts as we’re going to pursue our own efforts here in the state of California. Dr. Ghaly will talk a lot more about that. I look forward to talking to you a lot more about that as well. So we’re going to be more creative in this space, and then we may have a little bit of surprise related to new strategy next week related to testing. Then I’m also looking forward to making public a new partnership for more innovation in this space, a little preview on announcement next week.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (25:01)
Seven day positivity rate, 7.5%. Monday when I shared this slide with 7.4%. So the 14 day is holding fairly steady, seven day has been a little bit more challenging at 7.7, last Monday 7.9 today. But 7.5% is the 14 day average. You can see where we were two weeks ago, 7.4% on this slide, 7.5 again where we are today. Hospitalizations are increasing, but not at the rate that they were in the past. Let me be specific. Two weeks ago, our hospitalization numbers when I announced them were growing over a 14 day period about 28%, 16% when I socialized hospitalization numbers a week or so ago this week. We’re putting at least at the end of this week, it looks 9% increase in hospitalization.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (25:57)
So again, hospitalizations are increasing, but there is a decrease in the increase, if you’re following me. Meaning, the rate of growth is beginning to decline modestly. That is nothing to jump up and down about. It’s just a fact. Again, these are statewide numbers and they mask the reality in different parts of the state. I’m going to get to that as we always do with the monitoring list to only reinforce and underscore that this is aggregate data, and as you hear me say often, none of us live in the aggregate. We live somewhere in the state of California with different criteria, different conditions and different realities as it relates to hospital capacity and the like, but 9% increase over a 14 day period.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (26:50)
You’ll see total system capacity, still at 9% of all the hospital beds. It’s been relatively steady, 8%, 9%. It was 9% in Monday’s presentation, still 9% in terms of total hospital capacity today, Friday. As it relates to ICUs, similar trend as it relates to the rate of increase. While things are increasing, a couple of weeks back was 20% over two week period, then it was 12% I think on Monday that I announced. 11% is the two week admissions over a 14 day period in ICU. Like hospitals, ICU capacity is distinctive in different parts of the state, and this is a point of particular focus for us as it relates to issues of ventilators, as it relates to some counties. We talked about Imperial County in the past, but parts of San Joaquin Valley, now Stanislaus and other parts of the state, the ICU question becomes a more important and impactful one to answer and to address.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (28:01)
Ventilators that are available still, close to 12,000. Remember ventilators, you see the ICU bed capacity. Remember what a ventilator does. At the end of the day, a ventilator, not easily but with the incredible capacity we have in the hospital system and the surge plants, ventilators can turn to more access, more points of opportunity to increase the portfolio of beds that are available in our ICU system. There was some new reporting that came from the feds, a new criteria reporting, and that’s why the number, we had about 17%, that blue section on this, which is the total number of ICU patients that are tested positive for COVID-19. It’s 23% today. It didn’t grow from 17 to 23% per se. It’s just we had to use different number. They wanted to pull out the NICU beds, not just the ICU beds.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (28:50)
So we want to make sure that we are aligning with the updated federal reporting. So that’s a slide you’re very familiar with, and the 23% represents that update as it relates that critical care capacity. Here’s the update as it relates to our critical focus and attention related to the monitoring lists of those counties that have been on for at least three days. You’ll see now we have 34 counties current just went on that are on for three plus days.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (29:20)
So this list, and we have a couple more that are likely to end up over the weekend. So it may be as high as 36, represents a vast majority of the population here in the state of California, well, north of 90%… California had been very meaningful in terms of pushing outdoor activities and the like. So these are the counties where we’re providing more technical assistance that we’re monitoring with more laser acuity. Of course, we again monitor all 58 counties, but this is the list that we’ve highlighted into lists, very important to parents like myself, as it relates to the issue of reopening our schools. This is the list you want to be off.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (30:03)
… The issue of reopening our schools. This is the list you want to be off of, not on, so that we can get back to in-person education sooner, not later. As always I want to remind you the importance imperative of wearing a mask, nothing more important as we move into a weekend. I’ll remind all of us that it’s often the case, don’t need to remind you perhaps that weekends are where we certainly take off the suit and tie and may take down our guard a little bit, and that’s where we have started to see some spread of this virus. So I encourage you when you’re mixing outside your household, if you have to do that, I encourage you not to do that. We’re guiding you not to do that, but to wear the masks, physically distance, don’t let down your guard. Let me just close by saying this, really it’s letting down our guard.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (30:52)
It’s interesting. We’ve been talking to our health officers up and down the state for months now, but in particular in relationship to the presentation we’re making today on essential workers. Again, they’ve highlighted concerns around multi generational households, households where we’re seeing a lot of mixing. They’ve highlighted concerns around segments of our economy and importance of moving indoor activities, outdoors, which we have been doing. Again, we’ve been guided by this partnership up and down the state with health officials and federal partners across the country that have also been helpful, regional and those that are working directly with the administration in Washington, D.C. in terms of identifying hotspots, skilled nursing facilities, congregate settings, and the like. What we heard over and over again is even with essential workers, what happens often is the case, workers may carpool with a mask on, they may show up and keep a mask on because the employer is holding folks to that expectation appropriately, but some may go into the break room and everybody’s masks are off.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (32:04)
We’ve heard that example by multiple health officials in different parts of the state, which just reinforces how easy it is to forget that we could be 90% pure in terms of our efforts and intention, 100% in terms of our intention, but our efforts sometimes run 90%, which is impressive, but when it comes to this virus it takes advantage of those moments. This virus takes advantage when we turn the other way or we just think, “Okay, I’m just going to make a quick exception here.” That’s when this virus is its most potent, so I just encourage people to physically distance, wear their masks, you do both, and you stay out of large crowds. You are very likely to significantly reduce the spread of this virus, including your own capacity to get. As always, can’t forget washing hands, sanitation, which is foundational and fundamental as well to moving our efforts forward. So with that, happy to move this conversation forward and happy to answer any questions from porters that I know are assembled online.
Nurse [Apromen 00:03:17], CBS13.
Governor, how are you? With counties like Stanislaus and San Joaquin County in the health healthcare crisis, San Joaquin County seeing 138% over bed capacity, struggling with staffing, can you clarify why none of these counties are tapping into your Health Corps? You’ve been saying there are 35,000 Health Corps members ready to be deployed to assist with this crisis, but we’ve learned most aren’t actually qualified to work in an ICU or have the license to respond. So can you clarify how many healthcare clinicians are ready and able to be deployed to hospitals right now?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (33:58)
Yeah, I have the exact number and forgive me, I’m going to make sure that our team sends it to you, but we did just get an updated number. As you know, they have over 90,000 plus people that filled out an application, but not all of them were licensed. Not all of them met the criteria and our expectations. Roughly 35,000 as you suggest did. Not all of them active. We currently, and this I do know, 18 different cohorts have been supported segments of our economy, skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, other settings, CDCR, and our prisons by our Health Corps teams. Hundreds and hundreds of people deployed as we speak. I’ll get you the exact and updated number. We also, and I mentioned this a couple of days ago and forgive me that I don’t recall the exact number, but we had just when we went back, we re-surveyed those folks that are in our system.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (34:57)
We began to segment our needs with more acuity, so thousands of additional contacts were made and people are now ready to be made available, and I’ll provide you that number. Let me just say this in relationship, Health Corps is one component, and we’re very proud of that process and very proud of the hundreds and hundreds of people that have been deployed throughout the state at critical junctures throughout this pandemic. We certainly are doubling down on the efforts moving forward to work through the latest increase in the wave of this virus, but we also, and I hope you pick this up, we’re also very lucky to have the support of 190 federal medical personnel that came in. They have been deployed this last week and the week prior through our partnership with H.H.S. We also have a lot of other federal teams that we’ve assembled and strike teams within our own system.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (35:51)
You just recall the work we did down in Imperial. It’s interesting, not everybody’s talking about Imperial now. We still a lot of work to do down there, but you’ll recall on multiple occasions all the strike teams that we sent down, these multi-jurisdictional teams, federal partners, regional partners, state partners, as well as county partners. So that’s the approach or taking, not just the Health Corps. Health Corps is one component, an important component, but it’s not the totality in terms of the health support in terms of workers, but a critical one. We’ll get you the latest detailed information, make sure you get that momentarily.
Nicole Nixon, Capital Public Radio.
Nicole Nixon: (36:36)
Hi governor. You acknowledged the other day that people are on the edge of a cliff and there’s this looming eviction crisis with additional unemployment set to expire. On top of that, people are still struggling to connect with EDD and get their benefits, so two questions. More than four months into this pandemic, what needs to be done to clear that persistent backlog at EDD, and also if Congress doesn’t pass additional relief before the current benefits end, is it the state’s responsibility to step in and offer help to people forced out of work by these new business shutdowns?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (37:11)
Yeah, we’ve done much or more. I don’t know another state that has programs to secure federal dollars for homeless and now purchasing through our Project Homekey, not just Roomkey, new homeless housing partnerships on meals for our seniors to help keep restaurant workers employed, creative strategies on sick leave, and Worker’s Comp that we identified here today and you’re reinforced. I’m very proud of those efforts, and so the answer to your question, it’s a way of I guess extending a narrative, we always take responsibility to try to do a little bit more, a little bit better, including regardless of your immigration status. I know that’s controversial, but the state did that. Not every state, and I don’t know of another state did that to help support folks that are vulnerable in this environment.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (37:54)
So look, I’m expecting good news with the work that Speaker Pelosi will be advancing. If she wasn’t there, I wouldn’t be as confident in that statement, but because she’s there, I have deep confidence in her capacity of pull something off important, to pull something off that directly addresses the issue, not just on unemployment insurance, but getting checks in the pockets of those that have been impacted by COVID-19. Look, as it relates to the prior question, as it relates to a component of your question related to EDD, $4.8 billion has been distributed this week in EDD. Seven million people have just since March 12th received unemployment insurance benefits. I don’t think there’s another state comes close in terms of just processing. So we’re dealing with a scale and scope, not an excuse, 5,600 people. I haven’t updated you in the last few weeks. We talked about that first cohort of 1,300 people that we put to help with our help lines and the new text messaging program, how we brought other agencies in and project improvement teams in. We have a medium term strategy, and then I have a longterm strategy.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (39:14)
In fact next week, you’ll be hearing a lot more about our longterm EDD strategy as it relates to addressing the foundational issue, which by the way is not unique to California, and that is an IT infrastructure that’s on the leading and cutting edge of 1979. That’s not an excuse; that’s an opportunity and it’s a responsibility to not build on it, but to reimagine and reprocess that entire system. So don’t think for a second we have not been focused on the medium and longterm, and then just addressing the adequacy of getting those very difficult individual claims where something is just not clicking in terms of the information provided or the response back in timely manner and deal with all that backlog. So you’re going to hear a lot more about that in next week and what EDD will be doing in addition to all the new people that we put on the problem, but how we solve the problem once and for all. That’s my responsibility as governor and look forward to advancing those reforms. I don’t want to over promise that they’ll happen overnight, but know that people are working overtime in that space.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (40:28)
Finally, as it relates to the issue of cliff, you referenced issue of evictions, and I thank you for that. We had done some work through executive order on evictions. I also provided the legal authority for the judicial council in the state of California to do the same. Those were temporary frameworks. We are working with two legislative leaders, Caballero and Chu in particular, leadership in the Senate and the assembly and partnership, spirit of collaboration and deep urgency to work on that issue. I made that point. There were a number of you that asked a question about that a few days ago. I’ll just say it again that we are working with the legislature and working with tenants groups and property owners, apartment owners, and the like, large and small owners to see what we can do to strengthen our protections, because yes, we are concerned as all of us should be about a lot of these temporary fixes going the wayside and our need to put together further bridge, at least through the end of the year, perhaps longer to work through this so that we can avoid the most significant impacts that this virus has had on people’s pocketbooks and their capacity to pay their rent and in many cases even pay their mortgage.
Patrick Healey, NBC4.
Patrick Healey: (41:59)
Hello governor. Thank you very much for taking our questions today. A couple of quick things if I could. Number one, can you comment, or perhaps Dr. Ghaly could comment on where we believe R-effective rate is now? LA County believes it’s below that threshold of 1.0 statewide in the aggregate. We also see that encouragement and secondarily, can you shed some light on the U.S. Air Force military personnel who are being deployed at certain hospitals and why Los Angeles County was selected as a location for two hospitals to receive that military aid? Thank you.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (42:36)
Good, both perfectly positioned with Dr. Ghaly in front of me, will come up the podium as you know. Dr. Ghaly comes from LA and very close in collaborative relationships, including his wife who runs the system down there, so better to have him ask that question. Let me just quickly say as relates to the R-effective, we finally have seen it and I appreciate you acknowledging LA County, and finally an Imperial now below one as well. I’m in parallel of answering a question Dr. Ghaly’s better positioned to answer. Let me bring him up to the mic.
Dr. Ghaly: (43:13)
Thank you governor and thank you for the question. Indeed as the governor describes, we don’t live in the aggregate. The R-effective throughout this state is different. We have some counties below one and remember all that means is that a single person who’s infected today is going to infect that number of people next. So when you drop below one, it means you’re starting to drop your number of cases, the level of transmission in your community, and hopefully if that maintains, you’ll see the cases dropped down, then the impact on the hospitalization and the ICU levels as well. So good news when you drop below one. Imperial County, LA, some others are below one. Others are hovering around 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, and what that means is that more people over time will become infected. So even though we look at the statewide number, that’s somewhere between 1.1 and 1.3, we notice that some counties are going to be on the upward of transmission and others are going to be decreasing.
Dr. Ghaly: (44:21)
So we watch that closely, and some of the encouraging news in some of our counties is really tied to that R-effective being below one, and then others where we consider their hotspots, some of those Central Valley counties are above one, and we’re working hard to make sure that they have the resources around staff and testing, wearing the mask, really delivering the message in those essential workplaces that the governor has done today, working with our local partners to ensure that that number starts to come down all throughout the state. As it relates to LA County receiving some of the Department of Defense staffing support, again we looked across the state. LA County-
Dr. Ghaly: (45:03)
… support. Again, we looked across the state, LA County, with big hospitals, important centers where we see disease transmission high, concern to make sure that the hospitals in that important center are supported, received two out of eight of the team. So a sort of proportionate share, if you will, across the state. But remember, some of the other teams went to Northern parts, even rural parts of our state, to make sure that the hospitals are supported. We also will continue to work with our federal partners to ensure that that staff can be moved to a strategic places throughout the state when necessary. So we’ll continue to work with LA, we’ll continue to work with the Bay area counties, and all counties throughout the state to make sure staffing there, as well as our health core staff, are deployed strategically to make sure patients get the level of care that they need and that staffing doesn’t become the issue around delivering high quality care throughout the state.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (46:06)
Thank you, doctor. Next question.
Speaker 1: (46:07)
Jackie Fortiér, KPCC.
Jackie Fortiér : (46:09)
Good afternoon, Governor. An LA Times story published today found that the state Health Department knowingly sent state inspectors from nursing home to nursing home without first testing them for COVID-19. Given the huge number of cases and deaths linked to nursing homes, why aren’t state inspectors required to be tested routinely? Has that changed?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (46:33)
Yes, it has, we’re raising our standards. We’re requiring for every sector, that an inspector is inspecting, that they meet the same criteria that’s established within that sector. So that has been changed. It is forgive me, in the lexicon of government, a meet and confer issue with our bargaining units, but we will raise that standard.
Speaker 1: (46:56)
Kathleen Ronayne, AP.
Kathleen Ronayne: (47:00)
I just want to understand exactly what you’re announcing today. Are you signing any executive orders or public health orders today in relation to the things that you’ve talked about? And then, when is the state going to provide details on the waiver process for schools and will it be a requirement that Unions have to support any of the waiver plans for them to be approved?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (47:19)
Yeah. Well, let me take advantage of giving you a slide as it relates to elementary. Remember, the waiver process is for elementary schools specifically here in the state of California, and the requirements work along the lines you see posted. Now, those of you that don’t have the benefit of a television set or the ability to read the slide, it’s about partnerships that need to be initiated with requesting a waiver with labor, parents, community-based organizations to allow for in-person instruction. Again, for elementary schools specifically, in partnership with local health officials. And so school districts can work with their local health departments to go through that waiver process, and so that’s the framework that we’ve laid out. That’s the guidance that we put up when we announced the guidance for schools, writ large. This was the guidance was included in that process. So it is a process that we look forward to engaging in and one that we’ve laid out with broad strokes on this slide.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (48:29)
As it relates to the issue question you raised related to the work with the Legislature, here’s the good news, Legislature’s in session. They’re not out of session. Meaning, when I first established the framework for the executive orders, the Legislature had to shut down. We were in the middle of this pandemic with certain emergency orders that we needed to advance in real time. Because the Legislature and many legislative leaders have introduced legislation, and we’ll be reconvening next week formally, we are working hand in glove with leadership of Legislature to look at a number of those bills and to see how we can build on the work that was done with some of these executive orders, but also work that wasn’t advanced through any executive fiat or executive order. So that’s the spirit of the moment, the spirit of engagement, but again, with a laser-like focus in terms of timelines and expectations, and so that’s what we announced today.
Speaker 1: (49:37)
Final question, Karma Dickerson, Fox 40.
Karma Dickerson: (49:42)
Hi, Governor. Thank you. So going back to the issue which we’re talking about, federal benefits expiring, understanding that there is work that is done on a federal level, but even on the best case scenario we are still likely talking about a gap in services. So just wondering if you’ve sat down and really crunched the numbers and looked at what that would actually mean, specifically on the ground day-to-day, for Californians and whether or not there is any relief just lined up in the interim for people taking 2,400 to, what is that, 4,800 in a pay cut? Additionally, much of the federal discussion and debate has to do with whether or not that extra $600 disincentivizes work. As you’ve spoken with national leaders, have you made the case that the extra $600 may mean one thing in Iowa, but means something totally different to a Californian who probably still can’t pay their bills with that extra $600?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (50:38)
Yeah, well done. I mean, you just made the case by framing the question, and so you’re absolutely spot on. That’s self evident to anyone who lives in a high-cost environment, not just here in California, but other parts of the country. We’ve made that case abundantly to legislative leaders, notably, speaker Pelosi. We’ve had constant dialogue with speaker Pelosi. As you may recall, a number of months ago, we were very aggressive in terms of our proactive advocacy for a new CARES Act. Now, we were not shy. We were very aggressive and pointed in terms of the urgency to meet the moment and to get ahead of the curve. We haven’t been shy in terms of our criticism of the lethargy of the process so far coming from the United States Senate. And the aggressive contrasted by the aggressive actions taken by speaker Pelosi and the House of Representatives that moved aggressively with a bill to substantively, not only address the issue that you identified as it relates to the supplemental $600 payment, but even well beyond that, in terms of meeting the needs of individuals ravaged by the economic consequences of this virus.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (51:59)
So that’s leadership. That’s point of pride. That leadership demonstrably is emanating from the state of California, and speaker Pelosi, and her colleagues. I couldn’t be more proud of her and them and thankful. As I said a moment ago, reinforce it. I have great expectations because of her tenacity, her experience, her insight, her fortitude, her ability to run circles around so many others in terms of how process works and how one conducts themselves in terms of those deliberations. So I’m going to continue to lean in, in terms of the expectation that they’re going to do something bold.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (52:48)
That said, yes, we have gamed out, not only as it relates to the individual contributions that individuals have gotten related to federal supports, but you saw in our budget, all the additional money we put in. We have historic budget cuts, but we didn’t cut the historic increase that we put into our Working Families Tax Credit, the ITC.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (53:14)
You saw the hundred or so million dollars close to that, that my Business and Jobs Advisory Committee helped conceive to help small businesses that were falling through the PPP cracks and the SBA cracks to make sure that we’re getting to women, minority- owned businesses, some emergency aid and loans. You saw the Child Tax Credit component of the EITC that we strengthened. You saw some of the sick leave protections, you saw the Workers’ Comp protections, that not every state is providing that we as a state are providing. Again, not waiting around for someone else to solve these problems. So we tried to sort of reinforce the architecture if this were a house, the foundation, to prepare for whatever may happen externally so that we could be more firm and foundational in terms of our resourcefulness to address what may or may not happen at the federal level. We were able to put together a budget with a lot of contingent cuts, and as those dollars materialize, those cuts will not materialize. That will also help strengthen our resolve and moreover, our resiliency as a state. We also looked at our reserves, and we didn’t use every dollar of reserve. So again, we had resources in case, just in case, things didn’t materialize.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (54:35)
So it gives you a sense. I just want to give you a sense, get into the mindset here that the answer is yes, we are in a very flexible and dynamic environment and we’re in a very opportunistic one in this respect. I say that not pejoratively, but meaningfully. With the Legislature coming back into session next week with renewed energy and desire to partner, which has always been there, but real desire to partner with specific legislative vehicles, we have the ability to move very quickly in the next few weeks, depending on what happens. So that’s also point that should be encouraging despite some of the discouraging lack of intentionality and action to date by the Senate leadership. That’s something, again, that we want to fix, something we want to address. So with that, I want to thank all of you for the opportunity for me to address you today in the week. I encourage you to, again, practice that social distancing, physically distance, where you must, make sure we’re all wearing face coverings and to make sure you have a wonderful and safe and healthy weekend. We’ll see you back here on Monday. Take care.