Dec 30, 2020
Gavin Newsom COVID-19 Press Conference Transcript December 30
California Governor Gavin Newsom held a COVID-19 news conference on December 30. Read the transcript of his coronavirus briefing speech here.
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Governor Newsom: (00:00)
… Sociable, but obvious, neither is safety. So safety and mitigation measures, clearly we believe can prevent transmissions in the school setting. Transmissions among and from younger students, students to students is simply not common. And we have the basis of not just conjecture, but many, many studies that we want to share with you just briefly in a moment to bear that out. As it relates to one of those studies, the CDC put out a study of kids with positive and negative tests across the spectrum, across all states, and going to school fundamentally was not associated with a “higher risk” of getting COVID-19. And I say higher risk because no one’s naive about the risks associated with the community spread and the associated risks associated with not just kids transmitting COVID to other children and other kids, but the impacts of adults, caregivers, what happens at home, what happens on the way to school, what happens in terms of the interaction among paraprofessionals, teachers, and those kids and the like. We’ll talk again in a moment more about that as well.
Governor Newsom: (01:15)
But extensive evidence is now in that shows the safety and mitigation measures that are put into place when schools are opening in person, and they are focused on mask-wearing focused on physical distancing, are considerate across the spectrum every day in every way of focusing on stable, small cohorts and groups, washing hands, the things that we preach, the issues related to screenings and ventilation, issues associated with those layers of protection. When they’re put into place, we now know that transmission can and will be reduced. When those are not put into place, when those measures are not advanced, we know that we have seen, based upon the studies that have been put in, that more outbreaks indeed do occur. In fact, based on a number of studies, schools that have not required these measures that have not focused on these safety standards, have seen two and a half times more in terms of outbreaks than those that did.
Governor Newsom: (02:19)
So the point of emphasis here is that safety is key. Just reopening a school for in-person instruction on its own is not going to address the issue of safety. We have to focus on these mitigation steps. We have to focus on accountability. We have to focus on issues associated with being much more transparent and much more aggressive as it relates to enforcement of activities that are not appropriate and that are not occurring to the standards that you and others should expect.
Governor Newsom: (02:53)
in-person instruction though, we believe, and we’ve said that for months and months and months, it’s our default. in- person for obvious reasons. Not just the social, emotional reasons, but obviously the reasons that we advance here on this screen. The issues associated with anxiety, in some cases depression, the lower rates of undetected child abuse and neglect that it’s a critical component of addressing what’s going on at the home is having those clues of signs in the classroom, where the classroom community can address those issues and work with social service agencies and the like to call out some of those abuses, those tragic abuses at home. The higher rates of immunizations across the spectrum, not just related to issues associated with this current pandemic. And obviously, other indicators of wellness. The public health of wellbeing more broadly defined. Those are the benefits, the health benefits of in-person instruction.
Governor Newsom: (03:57)
Here are the current guidelines that are in place, and I think it’s important to underscore this. Kids are learning. They’re just not learning all equally, particularly our youngest children. And I say that not intellectually, I don’t say that on the basis of someone else’s analysis or study, but my own experience at home with four young children. My oldest 11, my youngest just having turned four a number of months ago. The experience that we’re having just in our own household is very, very telling as it relates to different ages, different cohorts, different learning differences that my children have, that they inherited from their father.
Governor Newsom: (04:39)
Those issues are dominant in terms of our discussion in our household and clearly are in your household as well and across the spectrum in this state. But our current guidelines, just to remind you of what they are that are in place are requiring learning. And I just, again, want to underscore they do require learning. We’re not talking about opening schools. Schools are open, but now mostly virtual. We put out guidelines, as I said, in May that require schools to develop and implement plans with precautions if indeed they want to open for in-person instruction.
Governor Newsom: (05:16)
And I’ll remind people that the guidelines that are in place allow for schools to operate in-person with waivers in particular for elementary grades. There’s 1,731 elementary school waivers that are in place, at least as of 72 hours ago. That number changes on a relatively consistent basis, but over 1,700 schools have applied for and received waivers based upon the guidelines we first issued in May, even when they’re in these more restrictive tiers. The purple tier, you may recall, which we had laid out a number of months ago.
Governor Newsom: (05:56)
These schools have an obligation to create safety plans, post them online, work with parent and labor organizations, submit those plans to local health officers. And as you may recall, districts that were not in the purple tier but in the red tier had the capacity to reopen as well as it relates to K through 12, not just elementary grades.
Governor Newsom: (06:22)
We had, going back to a survey we did in November right before this surge, we had 21 counties in this state that mostly were providing either a hybrid or in-person education experience. We had 17 counties that were mostly operating online, mostly operating with a distance learning construct, and 20 counties in the survey in November that were providing some mix of the two.
Governor Newsom: (06:56)
So those are the current guidelines. That’s the current status as it relates to what is in place as we speak. And I’ll remind you, in addition to the guidelines we put out in May, we also put out a substantial amount of money working with the legislature. $5.3 billion was approved for what we described, or rather we advanced as money with flexibility to address the issues of learning loss with a disproportionate focus on equity. And that money was supplemented with about $1.47 billion that came from the Federal government through the CARES Act. When you stack those dollars up and a few other dollars, it worked out to an average about $645,000 for each school that could be utilized for COVID-related expenses.
Governor Newsom: (07:46)
Again, with funding focused disproportionately on equity, a foundational principle that drives our work and our public education system. More broadly, a value proposition that defines our why across the spectrum of supports here in this state. We also provided, just as a reminder, we provided two months of free PPE. We put it up early in the school year, in August, provided those supports so there was no issues on face coverings and masking, at least providing that 60 days up front. So there was no stress, no anxiety related to that.
Governor Newsom: (08:22)
So that’s a status update. Now, everybody lives in a particular part of the state, particular school district that’s had experiences that are unique and distinctive. I recognize that. This is just in the aggregate what the bigger picture looks like. Your unique experience, obviously, is by definition unique. And some of you, like myself, we had our schools reopened for a very short period of time, then only to close back down. And so these fits and starts have been incredibly trying and challenging I know for parents, for paraprofessionals, for teachers, for caregivers, for all of us, communities large and small all across the state.
Governor Newsom: (09:05)
So here’s what we’re proposing to address some of those anxieties, provide more clarification, and really try to lean into the future and anticipation. Again, we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We’re confident in our ability to move through this pandemic and the challenges in front of us, particularly in the next 30 to 60 days. But really looking at the Spring, looking at beginning February, March, April, where are we going to be, and how can we assert more clarity, more focus, and really create an establishment of expectation relating to, again, our default of safely bringing our kids back in-person, learning back into the classroom for all of those social emotional benefits?
Governor Newsom: (09:54)
Here’s the plan. Phased in, in-person learning strategy that would focus disproportionately on those youngest cohorts and those that are most in need are high risk children. Special education, those populations. Foster care, homeless children, and others that clearly need that extra amount of support. So the idea is to begin K to six with special ed and populations, as we note here that have been disproportionately impacted by this pandemic, but also more broadly are disproportionally impacted by a series of issues that are well-defined in this state. We also want to improve our efforts to get everybody moving in a similar direction, to be back on track across the spectrum by early Spring of 2021.
Governor Newsom: (10:49)
Now, distance learning, I’m going to make this clear, will still remain an option for parents and students. And there’s a lot of trepidation. We recognize that. A lot of anxiety about going back into the classroom, which one has to clearly acknowledge, not just for our teachers, but also for our parents, particularly with kids that may have unique conditions, that may not make that ideal. And so we want to maintain the ability to continue to get the learning that you’ve been receiving as it relates to that distance learning.
Governor Newsom: (11:20)
Elementary schools can open, but only if they submit a safety plan to both local and State officials. And so this is the new guidelines that we’ll be putting out. Local health departments can disapprove. So rather having a default of no, it’s a default of yes. You can disapprove within five days. Once open, those local and State officials have an obligation now to monitor and provide support, enforcement, technical assistance across the spectrum of support to enforce the guidance.
Governor Newsom: (11:53)
This has been a big issue, and I want to just acknowledge this. And teachers, I think they deserve to hear folks in positions. The legislature and the executive branch acknowledges very publicly that there are some schools that have been open and remain open that are simply not having those guidelines be enforced, that are not getting the support that they deserve, but also not operating as they should. And so it’s an obligation with these new measures that were more transparent. And also, we’re all more accountable across the spectrum of support. Not just local, but at the State level as well.
Governor Newsom: (12:33)
Counties also must have, and we can talk more about this. Dr. [Galley 00:12:37] can talk about some of the epidemiology around this and talk about the why. But we must have a seven day average case rate of less than 28 cases per 100,000 per day to implement the plan. This is a nuance, but important nuance, and we can talk about that later.
Governor Newsom: (12:50)
But here are the four pillars that are this strategy. This is our California Safe Schools For All plan. Funding, safety and mitigation efforts. I’ll go through each one of these in detail. Hands-on oversight and assistance, and then, again, the issue of transparency and accountability that families deserve, and our school staff deserves.
Governor Newsom: (13:11)
Let’s jump right into the funding. Here’s the idea. We have been working, and I want to thank Senator Lava. I want to say thank Assembly member O’Donnell in particular, who have been just spectacular partners in terms of engaging through the legislative frame in a very iterative process to help us develop the framework of this plan. And I want to make this crystal clear. This is an iterative process. This is what we’re putting out, but we’re going to work together. We’re going to fill in the blanks. I’m going to address some of the nuances, what’s expressed, unexpressed, intended, unintended, all that we’re going to advance and work through. And we’re going to work together through a legislative process because we’re proposing an early action legislative plan to provide an additional $2 billion of support to the schools, particularly those schools that wish to open early, as early as February.
Governor Newsom: (14:05)
It works out to about $450 per pupil, not insignificant when you consider that it’s more than all instructional materials and textbooks, more money than we provide even supplemental supports for people with special needs, et cetera. But that’s the baseline. It high, as much as 700, but baseline is $450 per pupil support. That’s the 2 billion. Those funds will be weighted to schools, address the issues of disproportionate realities, the low income families, English second learners, English learners, and issues related to foster care, And those, again, disproportionately impacted by this pandemic.
Governor Newsom: (14:45)
We’re also working with our Federal partners to get the costs associated with testing covered through our Medicaid system. Medi-Cal here in the State of California, and that’s why you see that bullet point as a goal. And then we want to continue to leverage the dollars that I referenced a moment ago, that 5.3 billion in learning loss, the 1.47 that was direct from the Federal government to our education system to make sure that we continue to leverage those funds for support, for a safe reopening of in-person instruction in the schools.
Governor Newsom: (15:20)
I want to talk now about the safety and mitigation measures. That’s the funding side, the 2+ billion. Now, on the safety and mitigation, here’s the testing. We’ve listened to our teachers, our paraprofessionals, and others that want to see more testing. I respect, we all respect that. We want to see that as well. And so here’s what we’ve worked out in terms of the guidelines, in terms of the framework. And you can see based upon those tiers that we had established a number of months ago, we’re looking forward, going back to the tier framework shortly as we work through this third phase or wave, and then get back away from the stay-at-home orders and begin anew with our purple, red, orange, and yellow framework.
Governor Newsom: (16:01)
In that framework, you can see the requirements based upon the proposal as we are advancing it today of testing. Symptomatic testing or asymptomatic, depending on where you are in that cohort. Asymptomatic testing in the purple cohorts, obviously the deep purple as well as red, and then symptomatic once we start to see substantial reduction in community spread, substantial reduction in case rates and positivity rates.
Governor Newsom: (16:36)
So that’s the testing. Here’s on the PPE side. We’ve done a master contract which now we are turning over to others to reduce the costs and increase the volume and leverage our resources for PPE, particularly on masks. And so as a requirement of that and that work that was done to get that master contract done, all staff now are required to wear masks, but we want to go to the surgical mask level. We’re requiring all students to wear masks, not at the surgical staff level, but that’s the mark, at least for our staffs. And the schools are going to receive more surgical masks from the State. Not just those two months of PPE broadly defined, but more importantly, those supports will be provided at no costs going forward.
Governor Newsom: (17:26)
More emphasis on contact tracing. We’ve talked a lot in the past about the partnerships with local health officers and our contact tracers and turning over some of the deployment and the focus and the energy and the intention of engagement with our local health officers in our schools. We’re going to do more in that space.
Governor Newsom: (17:43)
And then on vaccines. Today, today, the drafting guidelines work group, they’re going to meet to finalize phase 1B. Remember, we’re in phase 1A of our vaccination plan. Phase 1B moves beyond the cohort of healthcare workers and the cohort of those in congregate facilities, skilled nursing facilities, our seniors in those environments. The 1B phase includes our teachers as a priority. And today that drafting guidelines work group, I don’t want to preview. We’ll see where they end up, but we anticipate, we anticipate that they will formally approve that plan. And that’s good news in terms of the vaccinations and prioritizations, particularly to our teachers and others that are critical to help support a safe environment for our children and for themselves and their colleagues.
Governor Newsom: (18:40)
Here’s the hands-on assistance we’re talking about, and this is critical. And this is also very exciting, at least to me, hopefully to a few of you watching. We have just brought on board a world-class UCSF, by definition anyone who works at UCF is world-class. But Dr. Naomi Bardach is a world-class UCSF pediatrician. She also happens to be one of the leading experts on schools and issues related to epidemiology and transmission of viruses in our public schools and our schools more broadly defined. So she’s now our point person that will be running our cross-agency teams. So we’ve got a spectrum of support from different State agencies that will work with local agencies, again, to provide more oversight. We’ve heard that critique loud and clear, the importance of more oversight, but also recognizing the importance of more assistance to our schools. So that’s webinars, that’s in-person, that’s virtual, that’s all kinds of supports across the spectrum that is critical to monitor and respond to data in real time.
Governor Newsom: (19:51)
You can see here the webinars that will publish training materials, the ability to answer and ask questions, and then these walkthroughs. We want to want to do more physical inspections. We want to be more present and more proximate to the concerns and also the opportunities for improvement.
Governor Newsom: (20:07)
So schools have to post their safety plans as I said, online. They’ve got to report their data and they have to report any in-school transmissions. And that has to be done in real time, and these are the new requirements sort of tightening up the old guidelines, strengthening them as we now move in to this new phase. Data and plan submitted to the State will be publicly now available. Reopening status, the safety plans, you can read them as a parent. Critical. The funding levels, going to understand what 2 billion means. It’s something to someone, but what is does it mean to my school or my kids? And so what that looks like, and that level of funding available, and where those dollars are being invested, where they’re being spent. What does my school look like as it relates to in-school transmission? So we’ve got a web-based hotline that’s for staff and parents to report concerns. If they don’t have that information, that information is not flowing back, there’s not a real two-way conversation, we want to have a-
Governor Newsom: (21:03)
… flowing back. There’s not a real two-way conversation. We want to have a hotline that’s available in schools, again, that are failing to implement. They have to be penalized, meaning there has to be some accountability. We’re going to raise expectations. As we create more opportunity for in-person instruction, we’re going to demand something in return as it relates to real accountability. That’s broad strokes what the plan is. We’re going to put it up in more detail, specificity, with new health guidelines, and all the nuanced bells and whistles, details next Friday, and I just wanted not only acknowledge Senator [Leyva 00:21:34] and Senate Member O’Donnell, but also the legislative leaders both in the Senate and the assembly, that assembled a cohort of education leaders within the assembly and the Senate, of course led by Leyva and O’Donnell, but also other members that were invaluable in terms of providing their support and their insight.
Governor Newsom: (21:58)
But no one more invaluable, no one more important, I submit, and I say it with respect, than our superintendent of public education and the head of our state board, and they’re both here to say a few words. I just want to thank them very publicly for their stewardship, their devotion to the cause of safely reopening our schools, and also to the cause that has united all of us, and that is the cause of keeping our kids educated during this trying and difficult time as the vast majority are. More training, more support, more devices, more connections, more opportunity, in terms of that distance learning that, again, is ongoing. That is also so important. That needs to be acknowledged as well. It’s been trying. It’s been challenging, and so I want to just, before I turn this over to the superintendent of public education, Tony Thurmond, just thank him again very publicly for all of his hard work and his counsel and in anticipation and because of the implementation of some of these new guidelines for all the work that all of us have in front of us. Mr. Superintendent.
Tony Thurmond: (23:18)
Thank you, Mr. Governor. Thank you for your leadership here on advancing a framework to help keep our schools safe as they prepare to open. Good morning to the state board president [inaudible 00:23:28] to Dr. Ghali and to Californians. We know that this is a tough time, and again, as always, I want to applaud our students, their parents, and their educators for your resilience. There is nothing about education that was ever intended to be in the manner that we find ourselves, and this is definitely the toughest moment that most of us will experience in our lifetime, but we push forward and we can get forward together safely.
Tony Thurmond: (23:54)
I appreciate you, Mr. Governor, for our candid conversations about the importance of COVID testing and creating a pathway for our schools to safely open. There’s no question that the vaccine, when it’s available, will be a game-changer. You referenced the educators being at the front of the line. That is so important, but until that happens, until the doses are available, it seems to me that there’s nothing more important than robust COVID testing and contact tracing to ensure that our students and families can be safe, and our educators. That this provides testing for school staff and students is critical and want to thank you for your leadership there and look forward to working with you and the legislature and the state board and other departments on how this might get implemented, going forward.
Tony Thurmond: (24:41)
Want to echo and add our support for the $2 billion, going forward, to prioritize COVID testing. This is the key pathway for helping our schools to be open. We look forward to working with school districts. They still have questions. Many of our districts simply just don’t have the funding to get access to COVID testing. Many of them have questions about how do I safely open? And we look forward to working with them, the administration, the legislature, the state board, the department of public health, and others to really provide schools with the how to open. That will be greatly informed by our team at the Department of Public Health and Cal OSHA, and we think these are important guidelines that every school needs to understand so that we can do this safely as we move forward.
Tony Thurmond: (25:28)
We recognize that not every school will reopen and that there will probably still be some distance learning, especially as this envisions of phasing in, and in that respect, we also intend to continue working with school districts to address distance learning. Again, our educators are leaning in and trying to provide all that they can, but we literally moved into distance learning overnight, and so there are unavoidable impacts that unquestionably have occurred and affected learning gaps that have been exacerbated during the pandemic. Our office, the state board, and others will continue to work with school districts on ways to minimize those impacts and to offset those impacts by providing more professional development for our educators, by making sure that our students have access to computers. Something that we found out early on, that many of our schools don’t have access to computers. And of course, we’re looking forward to this year, working with the governor and the legislature on a plan to ensure that all of our students have high speed internet. There may be a million students still without it, and we know that we must address the lack of infrastructure to have broadband all across our state, especially in rural communities that don’t have any infrastructure.
Tony Thurmond: (26:42)
Our office will continue to be available to help school districts. We’ve announced grants to support professional development to help teachers. We want to work with our school districts when we receive additional federal funding that will allow them to improve on training. We know that many families, foster families and homeless families, English learners, free and reduced lunch families have been impacted in different ways, and so we’ll be continuing our work to strengthen family engagement strategies, to make sure our kids are connected to their schools, that they have access to the resources that they need to be successful, that we address those students who haven’t checked in where attendance has been a challenge. We’ve literally been working with school districts, reaching out, making calls, looking for ways to connect those families to the needed resources. We will continue to do all of these things, and we’re excited to work on this plan to accelerate the availability of COVID testing and contract tracing in our schools.
Tony Thurmond: (27:38)
It’s the pathway for moving forward, and we stay tuned and look forward to working closely with the governor, the state board of education, the department of public health, and the legislature, and of course, our schools on how we move them forward.
Governor Newsom: (27:51)
Thank you, Mr. Superintendent. Again, thank you for all your hard work and thank you for those very honest and forthright conversations we’ve been having over the course of many, many months, not just the last few weeks in particular, and your insistence on real support, not just rhetorical support, your insistence on real funding to back up our rhetoric. We look forward to working together with you and the legislature to move this early action budget request forward, so that we can move forward with this plan.
Governor Newsom: (28:25)
With that in mind, I want to now bring on Linda [Hemi 00:28:30], excuse me, who has just been… Well, she’s an international expert who has brought to bear and to light tremendous amount of insight and information from studies in Italy, studies on safe reopening, antibody studies in Spain, the strategies and solutions in places like Australia. She has brought forth studies from Harvard, from Brown, not just the CDC, to back up our belief system here. As many of you know, she has been a critical lead and advisor to the president-elect in terms of many of these same efforts, so we are blessed to have her sharing our school board here in the state of California. Linda, I will now turn it over to you.
Linda Hemi: (29:28)
Thank you, Mr. Governor. I appreciate the plan that’s being announced and the comments of our state superintendent as well in terms of the way in which we’re going to help schools engage with this new set of efforts to continue to solve for learning. That’s really the goal here. We want to continue to ensure that as we bend the curve, as we get vaccines safely and equitably distributed across the state, as we welcome an incoming president who is determined to bring the pandemic to a close, that we support schools in being able to serve, as you said, the students who are most vulnerable, as the state superintendent said, the many who have been disconnected from learning and youngest children who benefit so much from being in-person in the classroom.
Linda Hemi: (30:23)
We have been trying and succeeding in many respects to solve for learning since March. We insisted, like many states did not, on distance learning from the very beginning. The governor first partner, state superintendent, myself with support from the legislature have worked on the digital divide issues that are gradually improving in significant ways. We have more work to do there. We have, of course, also done enormous amounts of professional development with teachers and shared the innovations that teachers are developing and creating across the state. We’re doing distance learning well.
Linda Hemi: (31:07)
For bringing kids back in person safely, many of our school districts are open and they are open safely with little or no transmission. Even in this time when the new dashboard is available, we’ll be able to see those data more readily. The public will be able to see those data readily, and we want to support them to stay open. We want to help others open safely in February and in March on a staged and phased-in basis that is appropriate to the context of the district and to the needs of the children. I just want to note that as we continue to solve for learning, we need to understand the school year in new ways. We’ve been tied to an agrarian calendar for the school year that begins in September or August and goes until May or June, but many districts want to and will be supported to continue to expand the school year to offer schooling in the summer. We shouldn’t think about this as what we can we cram in only by May. We should think about this as the continuous process of solving for learning and taking advantage, as well, of many of the other innovations that are going on in the state, everything from outdoor classrooms and expeditions, schools that are developing project-based learning, interactive online materials that teachers are using that have become regular additions to teachers’ toolboxes.
Linda Hemi: (32:42)
We want to work with everyone in the school community to invent and reinvent our school system in such a way that all children are learning, those who learn best in person, those who need to learn online for a while longer, and some who even prefer to do it that way, strengthening both distance learning and making it possible for this phased-in stage re-entry into very safe schools.
Linda Hemi: (33:16)
We all know that in a classroom of peers that’s led by an expert teacher, students learn not only the critical thinking skills and academic skills, but they’re also learning to listen, to share, to wait their turn, to encourage others, to have others encourage them, to focus despite distractions, to look for and receive help when they need it, to gain confidence, to raise their hand, take a guess, persist through difficulties to become self-aware, socially aware. We want that kind of learning to be available increasingly in-person while we’re also maintaining the innovations that have been begun in California and will continue.
Linda Hemi: (34:07)
Our creative and committed teachers have done a lot of this at home on their own time, learning new pedagogies, taking care of their own kids while they’re also teaching others in their Zoom classrooms. This is an important way to boost our support for their efforts, for having the resources to keep an open school safely, so that their efforts will have maximum effect.
Governor Newsom: (34:37)
Well, I appreciate everything, Linda. Thank you for making the strongest, most powerful argument that could be made for the power and potency from a pedagogical perspective, as you suggest, but also just a socio emotional perspective of the importance of all of the tangibles and intangibles of being in a classroom, and all of the development that is not just academic data development in terms of one’s mind, but the full person that is enhanced in that in-person environment. This is our argument. This is our emphasis. This is our strategy, and this is what we look forward to, socializing, working with community parents, working with leaders across the spectrum, obviously working with the legislature to advance, to make adjustments, to maintain willingness, to keep an open mind. No one’s ideological in this endeavor. We have a default that’s in-person, but we’re not naive about the challenges as we address the headwinds on this third wave and move forward. I’m very grateful for the leadership, the superintendent, Linda and her team, as well as legislative leadership and my own team that’s worked very hard, Ben and Ana and others on this strategy.
Governor Newsom: (36:11)
Let me just conclude on this and ask, if I may, Linda, both you and the superintendent just stay for a moment, so you can be available for questions. I’ll quickly run through some slides, just on a brief update in terms of where we are in this pandemic, but I want to just reinforce that this is about phasing in with the cohorts that are most in need of in-person. Again, as a parent of very young children, in-person instruction, there’s just no substitute for it. It’s so much more difficult for a four-year-old to focus on a device than a fourteen-year-old. Now, I don’t have a 14-year-old. Maybe 11-year-old, I can say that with some deep understanding. 14, maybe a whole ‘nother other challenge and phase of life, but certainly the younger cohorts are particularly challenged in this environment, and that’s why this is so important that we move forward in a phased way, prove that we can do this right and effectively and safely with an eye on everybody’s health and safety first and foremost.
Governor Newsom: (37:20)
With that, let me just briefly talk about our case numbers. We’re trending a little below the seven-day average. This is good news. We talked yesterday and the day before, Dr. Galley yesterday, myself day before, about some of the plateauing we’re seeing outside of LA County, outside of Southern California, more broadly as it relates to the growth, the rate of growth, in our case numbers in this state. These numbers are bearing that out. Still substantial, nonetheless. 30,921 new cases in the last 24-hour reporting period. Test positivity is at 12.2% over a 14-day period. You can see that that number, while growing, there is now some evidence that that number may be plateauing as well. Again, these data points are not necessarily trends that are headlines yet, but we are seeing evidence of that over a consistent period now, over the course of many, many days. 11.5%, 14-day positivity rate. Two weeks ago, 12.2% in today’s report.
Governor Newsom: (38:26)
Over 20,000 people now hospitalized. 34% increase in hospitalizations over 14-day. You’re seeing again that rate of increase begin to decline modestly statewide. Same with ICU admissions, now over 4,000 4,389. Again, 34% increase as well in the ICUs. This remains our top issue, not just in Southern California, but also in the Central Valley. Central Valley and Southern California ICU, that’s our disproportionate focus. Dr. Galley spoke to that yesterday with the extension of the stay-at-home order in San Joaquin Valley and in Southern California, those broadly defined regions. We’ll have news shortly as it relates to the Sacramento region, Bay Area region. Those will be coming next week in the updates.
Governor Newsom: (39:14)
You can see capacity currently still zero. Zero again doesn’t mean there are no ICU beds. It means we’re in the surge phase in Southern California. San Joaquin Valley in that surge phase. The Bay Area hovering again over 7%. The greater Sacramento, a little over 15%. Keeping a very close eye on that in Northern California. Doing better than other parts of the state. That’s the one part of the state not in this extended stay-at-home. Here’s a number that should be sobering to anybody that’s paying any attention, has a heart empathy that, or now just the ability to digest. 432 human beings lost their lives in this last reporting period. That precedent seven-day average substantially lower than that, but very, very sobering. The deadly nature of this disease took a 41-year-old’s life. It was a congressional [inaudible 00:40:11]. He was actually congressional-elect, a Congressman-elect in Louisiana. 41 years old, and asked yesterday, “Please don’t just assume or think or believe naively that this is just something that won’t impact you because you’re younger. It’s just about older people. It’s not just about older people. It may be overrepresented, but it is not exclusive.”
Governor Newsom: (40:33)
These numbers, I hope, are cautionary and a reminder of the importance of being safe and using common sense, particularly on New Year’s Eve and through the rest of this holiday. Briefly, we’re close to 301,000, a little over 300,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered. These have been injected into individuals’ arms, forgive the language, just to make it clear what this means. 300,000-plus doses administered. Here’s an update on the vaccine numbers. Moderna, we actually have a little bit more Moderna doses now than we do Pfizer doses. 1.135 million Moderna doses now committed in this state. 1,090,000 Pfizer doses. You can see some second doses that’ll be available for order, which people are placing now, the county level, 327,600 in for delivery next week. You combine those 1.13 with 1.09, over two million now, doses that we have identified that has either arrived or is about to arrive here in the state of California. Working aggressively to get those doses administered, and of course, that’s the work that’s being done in real time.
Governor Newsom: (41:52)
I encourage you take a look at that covid19.ca.gov website to learn more about the guidelines working group and their recommendations that they should codify in advance on phase 1B. That’s…
Governor Newsom: (42:03)
… Patients that they should codify in advance on Phase 1B, that’s the next cohort for access of the vaccine. They’re also working with our advisory committee on plan 1C that is a broader cohort, and those will be vaccines we will begin to deploy in the first quarter of next year. Just brief updates, and we’ll jump right into questions. I imagine some may be interested in this new COVID strain out of the UK now being seen across the rest of the globe, at least in some other countries that new strain appears based upon reporting appears now to have landed in the United States in Colorado, just for the record as I speak at this moment, and this could change in an hour or two. We do not have any evidence of this strain yet here in the state of California. And I’ll remind you just very briefly that this state does test.
Governor Newsom: (42:58)
Every week, five to 10,000 tests are done, genomic tests, looking to advance a deeper understanding of the complexity and nuances of this virus and new strains that’s done in partnership just here in the Northern part of the state, for example, with UCSF and the team that has been supported by the Biohub and support from the philanthropy from Facebook and from their founders. so we’re very, very blessed to have those partnerships and we are active in our testing. And through that active testing, we currently have no evidence of the strain that’s been reported from the UK arriving here yet in the state of California. Just briefly, because it’s important, small business grants available now, we have the ability, today’s the day to begin to draw down a half a billion dollars in grants. This is interim grants. We’re going to be extending more support in January budget, which I’ll be talking about in the next few weeks.
Governor Newsom: (44:15)
This is half a billion dollars of grants that have been put up to 25,000. This includes cultural institutions, nonprofits, not just small businesses. Please learn more about this by going to the COVID-19. ca.gov website, remind you all that we look forward to turning the proverbial page on 2020, at least many of us do. And I hope we all do it safely as we celebrate the end of this very long arduous year, encourage not to gather outside your household, encourage you again to use common sense, all the things you know well in terms of mitigating the spread of this virus, hope is indeed on the horizon, light is at the end of the tunnel, but mind you soberly, we’re still in the tunnel and in the next number of weeks will be challenging in particular, as it relates to this surge on top of a surge, I would argue on top again of a likely additional surge coming from Christmas.
Governor Newsom: (45:17)
And hopefully one that’s a little more modest from New Year’s because of our change of behavior. So with that, I’m happy not to answer any questions and hope just with respect to the superintendent and Linda and her team maybe we could focus on school questions for a second, let them go. And we can get to a marriott of other questions that may be on people’s minds.
Speaker 1: (45:39)
Ali Tadayon, EdSource.
Ali Tadayon: (45:44)
Thank you, governor. The press call kind of had a delay there. So you might’ve already answered this, but could you explain how the testing and contract tracing will be funded, who will be responsible for non-lab related costs? And is the $450 baseline that you mentioned, is that per month, or is that a one-time payment?
Governor Newsom: (46:08)
Yeah, it’d be a one-time prop 98 payment, $2 billion that would work out to approximately baselines 450 as high as 750. This builds on the $645,000 that schools have received on average already for COVID related expenses and learning loss associated with a number of investments, the 5.3 billion, the state put up in the additional 1.47 being the substantive to investments that were made under the cares act. As it relates to testing, we will utilize and this is one of the reasons we were so aggressive in getting the state lab up and running, the Valencia lab, as it’s referred to, we’re able to get tests up to 150,000 when that thing is fully operational. These are PCR tests. These are the state-of-the-art tests. These are the MRIs of testing versus the x-rays of testing, someone referenced in those terms to me the other day, which I thought was an interesting way of looking at it. Antigen versus PCR tests.
Governor Newsom: (47:10)
These are the PCR tests, and these are available for abruptly a third of the costs of what the current market is charging for those tests. We’re making those tests, that lab available to our schools, and we’re providing the resources and support not only through this prop 98 contribution, but also as you saw the work we’re trying to do on the Medicaid side of the aisle to get reimbursements for Medi-Cal in terms of the costs of those tests. We maintain that testing is just one part of a larger strategy, it’s not the only strategy, masking is still foundational and fundamental and we’ll monitor because it’s important to note, there is a logistics challenge. There’s a staffing challenge in terms of the queuing up tests and making sure tests are conducted and conducted in a safe way. So a lot of work to do in terms of those plans and those strategies, the application and the implementation.
Speaker 1: (48:15)
Kim Bojórquez with Sacramento Bee.
Kim Bojórquez: (48:15)
Hi, thank you for your time governor. My question is about vaccine hesitancy among Latino communities. So this I found in a large portion of Latinos and farm workers in California are hesitant to take the COVID-19 vaccine. How will your office fill that trust gap in Latino communities? And what does your office do to inform hard to reach [inaudible 00:48:36] speaking Californians about the vaccine safety?
Governor Newsom: (48:39)
It’s been a foundational principle for us to reach out into communities that are underserved and to make sure that we are distributing our vaccines in an equitable manner. The reason we created a drafting work group was to focus on equity, was to focus on the question you have posed and broaden that question to other diverse communities, rural and remote parts of the state that have traditionally been underserved and under resourced. We put together an advisory committee of 60 additional individuals to help amplify that cause, specifically here’s what we’re doing. We’re utilizing the lessons learned from the very aggressive effort to reach out to underserved communities in a peer to peer trusted messenger plan and strategy that we implemented around the census. We’re taking the lessons learned from the census and we’re organizing those lessons and principles in our application and our performance at the local level, with the vaccines.
Governor Newsom: (49:36)
You’re seeing that in PSA’s, you’re seeing that in a framework of cultural competency in terms of how we deliver those PSA’s, who those trusted messengers are. It’s not command and control top down. It’s really about bottom-up strategy. And it’s about community led strategy, working with trusted CBOs, not just trusted individuals, people in the community that are respected. We also, specific to farm workers, have the farm workers put in the next phase, Phase 1B in terms of the implementation and application and accessibility of the vaccines. That Phase 1B is being discussed by our drafting guidelines work group this afternoon. And they should sign off on that plan again, food workers broadly, that includes grocery workers that have been on the front lines from day one, not just farm workers, but they will be prioritized again in addition to our teachers in that next phase. So that’s part of the strategy, part of the plan. And you’re absolutely right to bring up this concern around equity and access to communities that have been underserved and it’s our job to make up for those issues and it’s why we put together that framework and those supports.
Speaker 1: (50:53)
Bill [inaudible 00:08:53], LA Times.
Hi, governor. Your plan says that you support testing at schools with in person learning. Does it require testing at schools that return to in-person learning? And if not, why not? Also, do all school reopening plans have to be collectively bargained with local teacher’s unions? And if so, doesn’t that mean those negotiations could push reopenings out far into the future? And what sort of incentives are there for teachers and staff to return to schools?
Governor Newsom: (51:28)
Well, there’s a lot of incentives because our teachers love teaching. The greatest incentive is the inspiration, that spark, that led someone to want to contribute in such a profound and dignified way by educating the minds of a next generation. So I don’t know that needs to be much more impetus than that. A deep desire to contribute, a deep desire for service, a deep desire of contribution that defines this extraordinary and noble profession. As it relates to the testing, it is mandatory if you receive the resources. So that should clarify the concern and that question. And as it relates to meeting and conferring, it’s a principle, it’s a foundational principle that workers should have a voice, that management should have responsibility as well as an opportunity to learn and listen to that voice and have the collective wisdom and engage in a dialectic and an important conversation that is open to the needs, the aspirations and desires and the respect that is afforded of our teachers and professionals. So yes, that process is paramount, that process is important, and that process is expected to be advanced in these principles and in these guidelines.
Speaker 1: (52:50)
John Thompson, Associated Press.
John Thompson: (52:52)
Along that line, governor, the teacher unions were notably not listed on those initially listed in support. Have you had any reaction from that? Do you expect any blow back from the unions? And secondarily, you envisioned having children with physical disabilities among those that are prioritized for a return to school, how do you expect or envision that working out without putting them at further risk? Thank you.
Governor Newsom: (53:21)
I appreciate that question. On that later part of the question, and I’ll ask the superintendent, Linda, perhaps you can amplify, we have cohorts of people with physical and mental disabilities, intellectual disabilities rather, that have been provided in-person support through our cohorting that has been afforded since our original guidelines were put out in May. And we’ve been able to advance that support in a very safe manner. So we’re confident in our ability to particularly with these additional, more prescribed requirements to do so at a much larger scale. As it relates to the California Teachers Association, we’ve had a consistent number of conversations over the course of many, many months, but notably over the course of the last many, many weeks. And we have implemented the vast majority of what you’re hearing today, has come from their input and from their unique and distinctive understanding of what really happens in a classroom.
Governor Newsom: (54:28)
So the issues of transparency, the issues of accountability, issues associated with testing, of funding, those foundationally are principles that they have not only been supportive of, but have been determined and are determined more importantly to advance and to hold us to account in terms of the application implementation. So we continue those dialogue. We continue to engage and all I can say is just from my personal perspective, it has been a very, very constructive relationship. And I look forward to maintaining that moving forward, but forgive me for belaboring this, Mr. Superintendent, and perhaps Linda, you can answer a little bit more about the cohorting and concerns and maybe more broadly, just any additional thoughts that you have at this stage.
Well, I would just say that for children with special needs, we do have examples of school districts that have done exceptional work during in-person instruction. I’d mentioned Marin County, for example, who have had in-person instruction and found ways to serve students in special education. I would also just highlight the experiences of our childcare centers across the state who have done remarkable work in putting strong protocols in place to keep our schools open and our children able to be in person. This is not easy. I think there’ll be many questions that still need to be worked out. The governor mentioned it, even this proposal is iterative. And I think there are still conversations.
I can’t speak for teacher unions, but I think that a significant concern that many of the unions have raised is the need for robust testing. And I think this shows a direction moving forward, but they’ll still need to be conversations and our office is available to help convene union leadership and school district management and state government leaders together to keep talking about the details about how to ensure that everyone is doing the right thing. Everyone is using COVID testing and contact tracing. Everyone is requiring PPE and maintaining physical distancing. Their enforcement will be important to make sure that every single school district is following the guidelines, put out by Cal/OSHA and by the California Department of Public Health to ensure the safety of our students and the staff who serve them. And we’re committed to helping to make sure that those conversations take place. Linda, you may have other thoughts, pass it on to you.
Linda Hemi: (57:09)
Just to add one thought. You mentioned Marin County, 40,000 students have been attending school there for the last several months, this fall 5,000 teachers, almost no cases of transmission within those schools. Most of the students are students with disabilities, but the plan does not require that every single student who is offered instruction come back, there are some children for whom there are physical or indications that they need to continue to be in online learning. And they get their individualized supports in a variety of ways in that setting. So no child would be put at risk who has extraordinary medical needs that would prevent them from being in school. But many, many students with disabilities are in school safely and being well supported by staff and by the safety measures within their districts.
Governor Newsom: (58:16)
Thank you. Thank you both. Next question.
Speaker 1: (58:20)
Catherine Ho, San Francisco Chronicle.
Catherine Ho: (58:24)
Hi governor. My questions about vaccines. Are you concerned that this state is falling behind schedule in terms of the pace of vaccination? I mean, we’re a couple of weeks in now. I think we’re around 13% of Phase 1A population. And the CDC originally said that they were expecting States to be able to vaccinate all their phase one healthcare workers within three weeks or so. So I’m curious if you feel the vaccinations are progressing more slowly than you anticipated, and if so, why?
Governor Newsom: (58:56)
Well, we know that the number of doses that have arrived into the state has produced less than what was originally professed and that’s been well-documented well. Debated, I haven’t been particularly critical. Again, I just want to stipulate how proud I am to be in a country that through the incredible work of those that were part of Operation Warp Speed was able to develop safe vaccines that are as effective as these vaccines appear to be particularly Moderna and Pfizer, and many, many others that will be coming on the market very, very soon. And so we’re eager to get these vaccines administered, we have over 300,000 now that have been administered, we’ve made this point like a flywheel, and you’re going to start to see more and more doses administered as more and more vaccines, not only arrive, but arrive in parts of state that have been underserved, more remote parts of the state where the needs are indeed great.
Governor Newsom: (59:57)
So yes, we’re mindful. No, I’m not shocked. I’m not quote unquote disappointed. It would be nice to have millions more doses to administer, but at this stage, I really think it’s wise for us to be a little more humble about where we are in relationship to this unprecedented effort, to vaccinate hundreds of millions of Americans in a very short period of time. And so we are mindful of the pratfalls and the challenges and the setbacks, the opportunities, and we’ll hold ourselves to a higher level accountability than even you will. But I am sure that you will hold all of us to a high level of accountability and expectation as well, because we all share one thing in common, regardless of our current occupation or advocacy or [inaudible 01:00:57] in life. And that’s commitment to the human condition and a desire to eradicate and eliminate this pandemic once and for all, and vaccinations are the surest and fastest route to doing that. So we all share that in common, and that’s why our commitment and our resolve, I think is universal.
Speaker 1: (01:01:19)
Kate Wolf, KQBD.
Kate Wolf: (01:01:21)
Hi governor. So in the past two weeks alone, according to CDCR data, 23 incarcerated people have died in California prisons, under 31 are hospitalized and thousands of inmates and correctional staff are actively sick. Do you think the state needs to be doing more to control the outbreaks in correctional facilities?
Governor Newsom: (01:01:40)
Yeah. So on Monday, I specifically answered that question, but more importantly provided some context in answering that question. So what I’ll do in interest of time, I’m concerned about Linda and Tony’s time at this moment, I’ll provide you the details that I provided the public on Monday. And I’ll give you an updated deck of slides that lays out the details. We actually have seen a not significant, but a modest decrease, even since Monday in total number of cases in CDCR, including San Quentin. We also have laid out specifically on Monday, what our testing and masking strategies are. And we talked about the efforts on decompressing the system and intake, and I updated folks on the intake. So I will provide all of that to you in an updated manner. Team, I can assure you as we speak is working on that, and we will make sure that you receive that very, very shortly.
Speaker 1: (01:02:41)
Elex Michaelson, FOX 11.
Elex Michaelson: (01:02:48)
Thank you, governor, and a happy New Year to you. On the issue of education, are you worried that this year has essentially been a lost year for a lot of kids and what sort of efforts will be made to make up for that? You’re talking…
Elex Michaelson: (01:03:03)
And what sort of efforts will be made to make up for that? You’re talking extra summer school, extra sessions, kids may be repeating a grade. What do you do for kids that have not come anywhere close to regular grade level that they would in a normal year?
Governor Newsom: (01:03:14)
That’s the right question. It’s a question as parents, we ask ourselves of our children, how are they progressing? Vis-a-vis their peer, our own personal expectation in terms of our children, their own personal development, and their own individual needs and challenges. So this is something that Linda previewed. You may have subtly heard the context, I don’t want to get too far ahead in terms of the budget that we will be submitting to the legislature in the next few weeks, except to say what Linda just suggested. We are going to be creative in terms of funding to address the issue of learning loss. We’re going to be creative to look more broadly outside of the previous constructs that are well-defined, as Linda said, in sort of this mantra of mindset that goes back to an ingrained society that no longer exists, that has a presumption that 99% of us will be toiling the fields come this summer.
Governor Newsom: (01:04:14)
And so looking at extending the day, looking at extending into the summer, looking at the opportunity to get tutors and additional supports to address comprehensively the learning loss, I can assure you it is not only top of mind, it’s foundational in terms of the budget that we’ll be submitting for consideration to the legislature. With that, Linda, maybe you can amplify without getting too into the weeds and getting too far into the details before we socialize them with the legislature more properly. But maybe talk a little bit more, because this is the, perhaps, most important question that parents and teachers are asking. And this is the question that we need to answer, and we need to do so deliberatively and very, very immediately.
Linda Hemi: (01:05:07)
Thank you. We have been concerned about tracking learning and supporting learning all along. Among the things that we did last summer was require a continuity of instruction plan, and for districts to use already approved diagnostic and formative assessments to figure out where students are and to continue to track their progress from some large districts that were able to provide data. We can see that a learning loss has not occurred for all students, but it certainly has occurred for some. And that there is an equity gap that we’re all aware of.
Linda Hemi: (01:05:48)
And among the things that we need to be working on is identifying the kinds of intensive interventions that are known to be successful and to work well for students to catch them up in a short period of time as we engage in the work that the governor just described. Both to re-imagine the school year, to also provide supports, assistance, resources, guidance for using the most effective strategies to enable all students to continue to learn. Students are always learning, but to continue to learn in the way that we think of the school curriculum, as well as all of the amazing life lessons that they’re learning and responsibility that they are taking on that we also want to acknowledge. So it is very much front of mind and we will be able to talk more about that very shortly.
Oh, I would echo president Darling-Hammond’s comments that students are always learning. Obviously we’re in a situation that is not ideal. There are no ideal situations and circumstances that we’re dealing with. And yes, that means that there are going to be impacts on student learning and impacts on gaps that we were already tracking and trying to make improvements upon. But let’s be clear where we are right now. We were literally trying to preserve life, with more than 300,000 Americans having lost their lives to COVID, safety has to be paramount. And our education system wasn’t built to provide education to all of our students in distance learning, and so we are adapting and recovering while we deal with some of those losses.
Again, I have to commend our educators. If you’ve listened to any of their Zooms like I have, you know that our educators are giving everything, and our students are giving everything, and their parents are doing all that they can, and I applaud their efforts. Unfortunately, this takes its toll on everyone. And so I’m hopeful that what we see in our budget this year also creates the opportunity for doing some small classwork and some after-school work. Obviously what happens in the summer is a great opportunity, but from my standpoint, what we do to offset learning gaps has to start on day one when schools reopen. Whether they’re in-person instruction or in distance learning, and that we were being forced to learn and change how we approach educating our students. And much of that means providing support to our schools and to our educators. We have to provide more professional development. We have to ensure the students have the appropriate technology. And let’s face it, even when our schools return to in-person instruction, they need that technology as much as ever to make sure they’re preparing for the jobs of tomorrow. It’s not just about distance learning. And so we’ll be doing many things and making sure that we engage families, find ways to accelerate the amount of time that our students have access to the department of education… Our team will be working closely with state board of education and president Darlene-Hammond’s team and others on strategies to accelerate learning and [inaudible 01:09:01] learning gaps. But it would be a misnomer to say that this was a wasted year. This is a year where we are preserving life, where we are surviving, and at the same time working to offset gaps that have been accelerated by the pandemic.
Governor Newsom: (01:09:16)
I appreciate that Mr. Superintendent, just to reinforce that we have been educating our kids, they are in school, they’re just in a different environment as it relates to that educational experience through distance learning. And I just would know just on a personal level, with four different kids, four different experiences, no two expressions are the same, they’re unique. And every one of my kids, like your kids, learns at a different pace. And what’s fascinating, one of my kids realized she could fast forward lessons and plans where she’s already mastered the material, but she also can rewind and go back to areas that were more stubborn and challenging, and she couldn’t do that in a more traditional environment. And so in many ways there are advantages and disadvantages. We’re all learning at scale now, but clearly there is opportunity even in this environment, and those opportunities have been ample and plentiful for many. But there are cohorts where those opportunities are not allowing the full expression of opportunity, and that’s what we want to address with this new plan.
Speaker 2: (01:10:21)
Final question, [Jocelyn Moran 00:01:10:25], CBS 47.
Speaker 3: (01:10:27)
Hi governor. I had a question. With counties who very much are well above that adjusted case rate for schools to open, in the meantime, how does the state plan on working with those counties that aren’t? Meaning that region are really, like much of the state, continuing to experience such a surge in these cases. And then I just wanted to ask you just specifically with the San Joaquin Valley, just with hospitalizations and having a lot of vulnerable populations, how is the state really working with counties in the Central Valley, as far as preparing for what we anticipate could be another surge on top of the one we’re experiencing now? Thank you.
Governor Newsom: (01:11:08)
I appreciate that. Let me just update you. It’s an opportunity, and Dr. Ghaly, I’ll ask you come on, and maybe just with respect to our two outstanding guests, I’ll ask them to close out on the first part of your question. But Dr. Ghaly, I just want to put up a slide here around the state staff that we’ve deployed. Now we have over 1200 staff that we’ve deployed 125 facilities statewide. Many of those facilities are in San Joaquin. In fact, San Joaquin remains from a staffing perspective, the most in need. It’s the area of the state, this region broadly defined that’s most in need. And so we are trying our best to supplement through state staff. Obviously, each hospital is working to contract staff and to be more creative in terms of their own staffing strategies. We’ve also deployed and we’ve also been beneficiary of these federal resources, which you can see up here, and those DMAT teams down near Imperial County. Now that’s not San Joaquin, but the DOD teams that we want to get into different parts of the state. This is specific examples of some of the areas where we are providing some supplemental support. Dr. Ghaly, perhaps you can fill in the blanks in terms of San Joaquin Valley, and then I’ll turn it over to president and superintendent on the issue of those counties that are in deep purple, and the stresses that they’re under as it relates to reopening.
Dr. Ghaly: (01:12:42)
Sure governor, thank you, and thank you for the question. We have been, as we have been in much of Southern California in the central Valley, continuing to work very closely with our local EMS directors, our local health leaders, and the systems themselves, the hospitals themselves, identifying not just staffing needs, but space and supplies. Thankfully, to date in much of the Central Valley, we have been focused on the staffing resources, as the governor said, through efforts at the state level, identifying registry staff, what we call traveler nurses, who can come to the region to provide help additional to that DOD staff, our state card going in and helping in any way they can. So that has been amplified as of late.
Dr. Ghaly: (01:13:30)
I think I’ll note that today marks an important day. Statewide, our effective number is at 1.0. That’s exactly what we want to see, this continued trend downward of overall transmission across the state that I think people are seeing reflected in the slight reductions in overall cases. But that is not what we see statewide. In the Central Valley, we still have counties well above one. What that means is that those hospital systems will need to continue to prepare for additional patients coming, not just because of Thanksgiving now, but really because of Hanukkah and Christmas and the upcoming… What we hope is a much lower degree of transmission over the New Year’s holiday.
Dr. Ghaly: (01:14:17)
So those hospitals are in a tough spot at the moment, we’re addressing their staffing needs. But we also anticipate because of the disproportionately high, relative to the rest of the state, transmission rates that that region still has seen, that they will continue to have additional patients coming to the emergency departments, needing those inpatient services, and in particular, that ICU level of care. So something we’re closely watching. In fact, we have recently deployed teams as recently as this morning to work in those counties, in Fresno County, in some other counties in that region, to make sure that we have eyes on the ground working closely with our partners so we can address needs as they come up in real time. Because every day matters, every minute matters, frankly, to support those hospitals, to do all that they can.
Governor Newsom: (01:15:14)
Appreciate it. And Linda and Tony, just anything you want to amplify. And I think it’s a fair frame concern, and obviously the question many are asking as it relates to background rates, community spreads, can we safely reopen a school with high community spread? With background rates of transmission that are particularly high? Can we still create an environment in a school? Keeping our kids, keeping our staff, keeping our paraprofessional teachers safe?
Linda Hemi: (01:15:47)
So we have evidence that where schools are already open or where cohorts of students are coming back, even in places with high rates of transmission, that they are going to school safely without transmission in the school. San Diego, for example, is a place that has very high rates right now, 12,000 students are in their small cohort instruction and so on. We mentioned Marine County, we could mention other places in the state. But the guidelines for this initiative do not suggest reopening schools that are not yet open in those places, because once you’ve got the teens and mitigation strategies in place, it is possible to remain open safely. But there’s a lot that has to be done at the beginning to put those routines in place, to socialize everyone, to use the mitigation strategies properly. And so there is an expectation that counties will wait to open physically new schools until those rates come down to a more reasonable level.
Linda Hemi: (01:16:56)
The plan does also allow for them to be able to access the resources for that physical reopening at that juncture, even if it’s later than other parts of the state are able to do. And so the speed at which we’ve been… The curve obviously will be very important there, but those resources will be available. We mentioned earlier that there are also federal initiatives, there’s a state budget coming up in Washington. The Congress passed a bipartisan recovery measure that will also be providing resources for the variety of needs that districts have, particularly in higher poverty communities, while they’re in distance learning and while they are coming back in person, that we hope will be facilitative in the interim period of time.
I would echo the things that Darling-Hammond has shared. I would just say as it relates to counties that are in deep purple, obviously we’ve got to recognize that conditions are changing. And we can’t say something today that will be hard and fast every single day, we’re going to have to take a few steps and monitor. People are going to have to check with their county health officers and the State Department of Public Health to determine what kind of conditions… Is it appropriate to move forward or not? That kind of consultation will be critical. And I have to say, at minimum, weekly COVID testing and contact tracing is absolute in any circumstance like the one described by the question. And so we have to put these measures in place, continue to monitor and consult and evaluate how we proceed going forward.
We have to be prepared for changes, not every single family and parent is going to want to have in person instruction. We’re going to find ourselves in a balance of modes of instruction, hybrid instruction. Every school district is going to have to determine, can they maintain physical distancing of six feet with the space that they have? Some districts will be better able to do that. Others will be challenged, they will have to make decisions accordingly to have fewer students who will ultimately come back to campus, and that will impact the timing. Can this be done? I believe that it can. I don’t think this can be done without robust COVID testing and tracing until we have the vaccine. And then of course, we can’t control the pandemic, but we can control what we do, and what we do in the community has an impact on what happens in our schools.
And if we regulate ourselves in the community, we’re wearing a face mask and social distancing and avoiding gathering so that we minimize the spread. What we’re seeing in so many different sectors, people aren’t getting sick at work per se, but people are coming to work who’ve been impacted. And so it’s going to be on all of us to do what we can. And again, I look forward to working on this new iterative proposal being set forth today, to work with all the various stakeholders, to think through all the best ways that we can do this. We’ve got to all be in this together and do this together. We certainly can find a path forward, but we’re going to have to work on every single stage and communicate, evaluate, and monitor and be prepared to be flexible as we go forward.
Governor Newsom: (01:20:19)
I appreciate the sentiment and certainly appreciate what Dr. Ghaly said. And I hope people picked up on this, our effective being at 1.0. We haven’t seen that in some time, that’s encouraging. Now, not every part of the state experiences in our effective rate at that number. The good news is, there is light at the end of this tunnel. The good news is, we are seeing vaccines now being administered. The good news is, we know how to mitigate the spread of this disease by using common sense, by wearing face coverings, by avoiding these large crowds, by physically distancing and the like.
Governor Newsom: (01:21:01)
And so we encourage you to continue to utilize your common sense, your good judgment, do what you can to help us through these non-pharmaceutical interventions to mitigate the spread. The quicker we do that, not only are we reopening our schools foundational, but also our small businesses, and getting back to some semblance of the new normalcy. With all the lessons learned, with all the resiliency that resides within each and every one of us and as our broader community and as a state, more capable, more competent in terms of our capacity to live our lives out loud into the future.
Governor Newsom: (01:21:41)
And so it’s in that spirit of optimism, the dynamism that the superintendent was just suggesting. This is not a static process, it’s very dynamic, and we are going to get out on the other side. And that’s going to happen in 2021. And we are anticipating that. And a big part of the spirit that brings us together here today is that spirit of optimism with the proposal that we’re setting forth on putting these cohort strategies out, and focusing on new state measures that we now are going to submit and work with the legislature to put into place to get our schools to open for in-person instruction.
Governor Newsom: (01:22:24)
So thank you all for tuning in, and thank you for the opportunity and privilege of updating you on where we are in the midst of this pandemic. And we look forward to updating you very, very shortly. Take care, everybody.
Governor Newsom: (01:22:36)