Sep 28, 2020
Gavin Newsom September 28 Press Conference on COVID & California Wildfires
On September 28, California Governor Gavin Newsom held a press conference with updates on the coronavirus & the wildfires currently affecting California. Read the full transcript of his remarks here.
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Gavin Newsom: (06:03)
So good afternoon, everybody. I’ll jump right in. We have a busy update here today. Nothing more pressing than the activity in northern California, over the course of the last 24 to 36 hours, particularly two new active wildfires that we’re monitoring and putting a tremendous amount of resource and investment in. And that’s the Glass Fire in Napa County and the Zog Fire in Shasta County. The Glass fire grew substantially overnight, roughly 800 acres to 11,000 acres. A substantial number of structures have been damaged, wineries and other structures in and around the area. Familiar evacuation orders and challenge right now that’s been made more acute because of overnight winds. Those winds will maintain themselves. They’ll begin to dissipate later in the afternoon, stabilize overnight, which should help with our efforts to take advantage of those conditions and move to advance our containment efforts. But nonetheless, an active wildfire generating a lot of attention appropriately.
Gavin Newsom: (07:13)
So a lot of consternation in and around that region that has been hit over and over and over again, over the course of the last number of years. The Zog Fire up in Shasta County, also familiar territory, literally not just figuratively 7,000 acres so far have burned consider back to 2017 in the Car Fire. And this is in and around those areas. So likely, the Zog fire may make its well way into the August complex. I’ll update you in a moment on the August complex, remains the largest a wildfire in terms of total acreage burned in California’s history, but the Glass and Zog Fires remain top of mind for us as we battle complexes all around the state of California. I’ll remind you, a slide that’s become very familiar in these presentations, 2019, less than 5,500 fires year to date, 157,000 acres burned. So far this year 3.75 million acres burned over 8,136 fires, again, so far this year, 2020. Still remain vigilant with over 18,000 firefighters actively working these complexes, 27 complexes in total that are currently being suppressed, actively engaged in our suppression efforts. Some 7,100 structures destroyed, and those are the structures that we’ve been able to identify recognizing that number. Thus, the plus sign you see there likely is to increase significantly 26 fatalities tragically so far in historic wildfire season.
Gavin Newsom: (08:58)
This season has included these active wildfires, I referenced August being the largest in California’s recorded history. Last update was 34% contained, some 846,000 acres had been burned. A total amount of acreage burned has grown, but not substantially. Modestly to 878,000 acres, now 45% contained. So they are making progress on the August fire with these winds beginning to subside, to die down a little bit. Over the course of the afternoon into the early evening, that will help advance some of our efforts in this complex. The Northern complex, the Plumas Lassen area of the state, some 64% contained this time last week, now 78% contained. You see the total number of acres burned has increased modestly, a progress being made in that Northern complex.
Gavin Newsom: (09:51)
The Creek Fire, that large fire, substantially impacted by 100 plus million dead trees in the area. It’s a federal fire though it’s bled into an incident command that’s joined with Cal Fire and the US Forest Service, many a joint command. 278,000 acres were burned, 27% contained last week. We made a little progress, 39% containment, and you could see the total acreage burned beginning to subside, meaning we’re seeing a plateauing of the growth of that fire. Again, still a stubborn fire substantially impacted because of that five year historic drought, the number of trees that are burned, and some of the territory that is being impacted is very difficult terrain for our firefighters to work, but progress nonetheless, in that area again around Fresno and Madera.
Gavin Newsom: (10:43)
And finally, just for the purpose of update, I won’t go through all 27 complexes, but I wanted to update some real progress on containment in LA County and the Bobcat Fire. Just last week, 15% contained 100,000 plus acres. Today, 62% contained. Cal Fire has done wonderful job on that fire with their mutual aid system. Again, that was a stubborn, stubborn fire for a week plus, but that containment now has gone up over the weekend, over the course of this last week, substantial progress in that effort. And so that’s the update on our wildfires continue to be top of mind as we’re now moving in to the peak of the wildfire season.
Gavin Newsom: (11:29)
This is a time of year you start to experience the Santa Ana winds down in southern California, which we’ll see some activity later this afternoon overnight into the early part of tomorrow. So we’re monitoring that and a lot of pre-positioned assets, a lot of vigilance related to those Santa Ana winds, very familiar to the people in southern California, but you combine the heat, you combine the dry dryness, you combine all the other activity that has led to this historic wildfire season. Clearly, we are maintaining our vigilance and that remains a top area of focus in this state.
Gavin Newsom: (12:09)
Northern California, as I said, the winds beginning to die down as the rest of the day. We move through the rest of the day, very hot temperatures, very dry conditions. And that means we have a chance at least to get some more aircraft, in DC-10s, the 747s. Its become very familiar to the people here in the state of California. 117 aircrafts now working these fires all throughout the state of California mutual aid system, where we’ve now requested more additional resources above and beyond the resources we have from six different states. But we are, again, fully operationalized in terms of the well we sourced and very abundant mutual aid system that many of you become very, very familiar with. I want to just thank administration, FEMA, for securing two FMAGs.
Gavin Newsom: (13:02)
… FEMA for securing two FMAGs in those [inaudible 00:13:05] Fire and the new fire in Napa County, the Glass Fire. We are pleased to have received those overnight. We have additional emergency declarations in to the White House more broadly as it relates to addressing the needs of individuals and businesses and counties and communities torn apart because of some of these other active wildfires in the state.
Gavin Newsom: (13:31)
As it relates to putting out fires, the figurative terms, we’re trying to do what we can to maintain the progress as it relates to the spread and transmission of COVID-19 here in the state. You see the latest numbers, 2,955 individuals as of September 27th testing positive for COVID-19. That is lower than the seven-day average of 3,367. We’re seeing real progress in total number of tests, beginning to go back up as we be able to navigate some of the challenges associated with the heat wave and some of these other fire complexes impacting our daily average of total number of tests conducted. But you see that number coming back up, north of 116,000 over the weekend. Was north of 150,000 both on Saturday and Sunday.
Gavin Newsom: (14:19)
The good news is the positivity rate continues to trend downward. 2.8% positivity rate over a 14-day period. You can take a look at where we were 14 days ago at 3.6% positivity, and now down to 2.8%. The seven-day is slightly higher than the 14-day, and I’m going to get to that in a moment, at 2.9%. Nonetheless, we’re seeing a continuation of the decline that occurs, of course not surprisingly, not only in the positivity rate, but you’re seeing the hospitalization numbers here in the state, a 20% decrease over the course, the last 14 days. ICU emissions tracking similarly at 21% decrease.
Gavin Newsom: (15:03)
I say all of this with a point of consideration and caution, though, that caution has brought to bear, that consideration rather, not caution, is brought to bear. Some progress with these county-tier reports tomorrow. You’ll get an update from Dr. Ghaly every Tuesday on our tier status. I could preview that we anticipate a number of counties moving and progressing into new tiers, which is a very encouraging sign.
Gavin Newsom: (15:34)
You’ve seen just in the last few weeks we had 38 counties in purple, nine counties in red. You could see today 25 counties in purple, less, good news, more in red, more in orange. We anticipate some more counties tomorrow moving into yellow-tiered status. So again, as we move away from red, into orange and yellow, more and more opportunity to modify our conditions as it relates to business activity. But as I said, there’s some points of consideration and caution in these numbers. And I want to just focus on that briefly here for a moment.
Gavin Newsom: (16:16)
While it’s true we have seen a threefold decrease in the total number of cases since our peak mid-July, we are seeing early signs that those decreases are beginning to slow down. They’re beginning to plateau as it relates to total number of new cases. What concerns us more, it’s not just the plateauing of cases. Again, we’ve seen decrease, but a plateauing. But it’s some regions that are beginning to see an upward trend in what we refer to, and what is commonly referred to by our health representatives, and that’s the R effective.
Gavin Newsom: (16:51)
Let’s take a look here at three different areas in the state where we are seeing some increases. Not necessarily in cases, but in terms of the R effective. Here at 0.95%, you’ll see in the Bay Area, Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, among many counties, you can see that trend line, where the last few weeks, the R effective is beginning to march back up. That straight line is the R effective of one. Anything north of that, we can start seeing an increase in cases. We want to keep that R effective below one.
Gavin Newsom: (17:27)
Currently in the Bay Area, it’s now snuck back up to 0.95. You can see here in the lower part of Southern California, and this is around Imperial, Orange, Riverside Counties, elsewhere, you can see similar trends. This is a 0.97 R effective in these ensembles of counties, our assemblage of counties that we’ve put forward. Those include San Diego County as well.
Gavin Newsom: (17:52)
So still below 1%, the R effective one, rather. But nonetheless, some concerning trend lines in the last seven, eight, nine, 10 days as it relates to increase of R effective. Let me underscore that trend of concern, and this is what we refer to lazily as the Upper Southern California area, more difficult to quantify when you see the the ensemble of counties that we included here. Central coast, a little bit of Central Valley, and the northern part of L.A., what we refer to as Upper Southern California.
Gavin Newsom: (18:26)
This R effective is represented on this slide at 1.02, 1. 02, in Kern, L.A., San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura County, when you pool them all together. So again, some concern and some points of optimism all mixed into one. But it is simply a reminder of what many had projected and predicted, and that is we have just come through difficulty of a first wave, but the anticipation of a second wave of this pandemic into the fall season. I believe this morning, there were 26 states that have seen an increase in their total number of cases. This is again what science had predicted. If we go back to our original form, if we’re not cautious, if we’re not vigilant, if we’re not wearing our masks, if we’re not practicing social distancing, physical distancing, and hand-washing and hygiene, these numbers can start to tip back up. And that’s going to put pressure on our tiered plan and put pressure on our ability to reopen not just businesses, but to get our schools open again, a top priority for each and every one of us.
Gavin Newsom: (19:38)
So I cannot impress upon people more the importance of remaining vigilant, the importance of continuing to do the things all of you have done over the course of the last month and a half, where we have once again tamed the growth of the transmission rate in the State of California. And never, over 14-day period, did we present north of 8% positivity rate. Substantially better than the vast majority of states in the southern part of the United States, be it Texas and Arizona, obviously places that have highlighted case rate growth, like Florida. But we did experience that increase. We were able to bring those numbers down below 3%, but this R effective rate is a point of caution and consideration as it relates to the work that each and every one of us must do to continue to see a decrease, not just a plateauing of transmission rates.
Gavin Newsom: (20:34)
Speaking of seeing a decrease, not just a plateauing of rate of growth, we have to address this issue of homelessness. And I continue to maintain a vigilance of focus, a commitment, and resolve to do more and do better in this space. And forgive the transition from wildfires and the transition, the crisis of COVID. But I would, well, I certainly argue that the homeless crisis in this state deserves similar attention and resolve and approach. And that’s why, the last few weeks, we’ve been updating you on our $600 million Homekey investment.
Gavin Newsom: (21:14)
Again, shelters, we believe, solve sleep, housing, and supportive services solve homelessness. This is a frame around housing and supportive services. This is a frame towards transitioning people into some sense of optimism and permanence in terms of moving people off the streets, transitioning them, and getting them back into a mindset of self-sufficiency with support.
Gavin Newsom: (21:40)
We have now announced, or rather we are announcing today, our third round of awards. We’ve already now awarded $450 million over 3,300 new units that will come up in very short order. This is not necessarily new construction, this is about innovation, adaptation. And I’ll give you some examples here in a moment, where this new round, this third round of $137 million of awards will go in 19 different projects, 15 jurisdictions. Here’s just a sampling of some of those jurisdictions in some of the projects and some of the innovation that we’re calling for. And when I say innovation, that’s time to project completion, as much as it is new strategies. But more important than anything else is moving as this crisis demands with resolve and not waiting two, three years, four, five, six years, as is often the case, between a proposal and a project being completed.
Gavin Newsom: (22:39)
But you can see here in Lake County, some interim housing regarding permanent housing exits, Tulare County, Tehama, Mariposa. Focused on seniors and individuals with disabilities. You’re seeing innovation in every part of the state, and you’re seeing support in parts of the state that haven’t received support from the State of California in the past, to invest and partner with local counties and local, well, local jurisdictions of all stripes, be it cities, not just counties, and obviously with nonprofit organizations that are a big part of these strategies.
Gavin Newsom: (23:17)
Just in L.A., as you can see, five projects that we are investing in. 269 units, just in L.A. proper. Long Beach, 100 units, Santa Barbara, an office conversion project into permanent housing with wraparound service. That’s an area of focus, an area of innovation, and including partnerships that we’re advancing Pomo Indians, the Band of Pomo Indians in Scott’s Valley, a multifamily residential property acquisition. This is the second partnership with our tribal nations. We want to see more of that as well.
Gavin Newsom: (23:49)
Stockton, I want to thank Mayor Tubbs. He’s been very, very innovative in his approach to addressing homelessness in his city. He has a motel conversion, was waiting for this announcement today, including efforts we’re making similarly in other parts of the state, including Humboldt, wherein motel conversions, similar motel conversion will be taking place very, very shortly.
Gavin Newsom: (24:14)
We have $200 million, and this is very exciting, from at least my perspective and vantage point, and I hope from yours as well, we have found unallocated money, C-19 money, meaning COVID-related money, $200 million of additional money that we now want to invest in our Homekey funding. This, we believe, will clear the wait list, or get close, I don’t want to over-promise here, but close to clear the wait list for projects that were submitted, this unprecedented number of projects that were submitted. Additional 20 more projects pending approval of the Joint Legislative Committee. And I look forward to getting their approval, and very grateful for the partnership, Holly Mitchell, and many others that are part of that Joint Legislative Committee. Once they sign off on this additional $200 million, we’re going to try to get these dollars out into these communities, try to clear as much of that wait list as we possibly can. That will put us at over $800 million in just a few weeks. $800 million dollars in just a few weeks, targeting real solutions, tangible and short-term solutions that will provide long-term supports for homeless individuals in this state. This is without precedent in California’s history, and I recognize it’s not good enough. That’s why I look forward to updating you on a consistent basis, and I recognize our responsibility to do more. That’s what this $200 million reflects, some creativity and some strategies to advance just that.
Gavin Newsom: (25:50)
It’s also important that we advance the cause of participating in the census. There’s been all kinds of efforts to vandalize the census process. The census process has been impacted by bad public policy decisions coming out of Washington D.C.-
Gavin Newsom: (26:03)
… public policy decisions coming out of Washington, D.C. It’s been advanced and supported by good decisions coming from the courts and sound judgment based upon the law, as well. It’s been impacted by a myriad of issues, be it floods in certain parts of the country, fires out here on the west coast, and clearly been impacted by what’s happened with COVID-19. And that’s why it’s critical, absolutely essential, that all of us participate in the census. And I say now, because we don’t have much time left to complete our census forms.
Gavin Newsom: (26:38)
Now, the current court decision that went into effect pushed back against efforts by the current administration in Washington, D.C., to end the census immediately, which has no other purpose than under counting the number of American citizens, deepening a divide of distrust, and reducing people’s voice in Congress, representation and support. There is no good reason except pure, partisan political reasons to disrupt this census process. So, we’re pushing against all the whitewater, all the headwinds that are coming out of Washington, D.C., and that’s why I wanted to update you on these efforts and really try to push this count forward in a way that’s deserving of a great state like ours.
Gavin Newsom: (27:25)
And why is it important? Because 10,000 dollars we could lose per person that goes uncounted. 10,000 dollars. Just think about your own participation. You want to make contribution to your state, I argue this nation? 10,000 dollar contribution filling out a form and answering nine simple, easy questions that are safe and confidential, meaning you don’t have to worry about that information being sent to the wrong folks. There are simple ways of completing the census and I’m going to go over those in a minute, but I’d rather share with you what those three easy ways are by showing you a PSA that we’re promoting, not just today, but it’s been up for now a few days.
Speaker 1: (28:09)
Three quick and confidential ways you can better our communities simply by completing the 2020 census. Take the census online. Visit my2020census.gov. Next, select start questionnaire and answer questions about your household. No census ID required. Give us a call. You can complete the 2020 census by phone in 13 languages. Mail in. If you’ve received a questionnaire in the mail, you can fill it out and mail your form to the U.S. Census Bureau using the envelope that came with the questionnaire. It’s that easy.
Gavin Newsom: (28:42)
And it is that easy. Please go to my2020census.gov, my2020census.gov if you haven’t had the privilege. Our collective responsibility as individuals, as active, not inert, citizens to participate in filling out that census. If you can’t go online, I encourage you to pick up the phone or take your smartphone, 844-330-2020, 844-330-2020. And, otherwise, if you have it, it’s been mailed to you, and it’s sitting there on your kitchen counter, maybe you can dust it off, fill it out, send it in. We have until October 30th, the end of October, October 31st I believe it is, though there’s efforts, again, to deny that sooner. But we have just a number of weeks left and want to encourage all of you to fill out the census.
Gavin Newsom: (29:38)
And speaking of a number of weeks left, well, a number of weeks before we move into the peak of our flu season. Flu season, you’ll tend to see acuity in terms of the transmission of flu in December, January. Flu season’s just around the corner. We’re even seeing some early signs of flu already. Bottom line, this is about protecting yourself. By getting a flu shot, you protect yourself and you mitigate the impact of what some have referred to as the twindemic of a potential second wave of COVID-19 transmissions and the flu, happening concurrently, putting stress, putting pressure, on our hospital system at the same time, draining resources and impacting the quality of care that all of you deserve and respect of our healthcare delivery system. And that’s why getting a flu shot is so important. I’ve done this every single year as long as I can remember. It is a simple thing to do. And getting a flu shot is a safe thing to do.
Gavin Newsom: (30:40)
In an effort to demonstrate how simple it is and how safe it is, I thought I would just take advantage of a moment of your time and take the opportunity to get a flu shot here and demonstrate what safely can be done by many of you watching. And I encourage you to do just that. And so I’ve got my nurse here, my doctor, and I’ve got the right shirt.
Speaker 2: (31:11)
Yes, you do.
Gavin Newsom: (31:12)
Which, apparently, is an issue. So, let’s roll up the sleeve.
Speaker 2: (31:15)
Relax that arm.
Gavin Newsom: (31:17)
All right. I wanted to show my biceps, but I can’t do that.
Speaker 2: (31:20)
Okay. Just relax.
Gavin Newsom: (31:32)
Tell me when you do it. It’s done.
Speaker 2: (31:33)
Gavin Newsom: (31:39)
About as simple a thing as any of us can do. So, I encourage everybody to get a flu shot. I thank you for this demonstration. And I’ll remind everybody that the flu season is just around the corner. I cannot impress upon you more the importance, the power and potency, of getting a flu shot, mitigating the spread and transmission of not only the flu, but as well, impacting our ability to care for you, your loved ones, members of the community, as it relates to the spread of COVID-19.
Gavin Newsom: (32:09)
And so that is broadly where we are this week in terms of an update. You can see additional information here on this slide of purpose of preventing the transmission of flu and the broader construct of helping all Californians stay healthy. We encourage you to do the same.
Gavin Newsom: (32:28)
As always, we end by reminding you of the power and potency of addressing not only the issue of the flu, but addressing transmission of COVID-19, of wearing a mask. It’s an interesting point that in the southern hemisphere of this country, or rather, in the world, southern hemisphere … in places like Chile, in places like Australia, in South Africa, they saw a relatively mild flu season because of people’s ability to address not only the transmission of COVID-19, but as a consequence the benefits of doing so by wearing a mask, transmission of the flu. So, practicing physical distancing, washing your hands, minimizing mixing, and wearing these masks will also help us with flu season, not just with transmission of COVID-19. So, this slide, very familiar to all of you, is even more important in that frame and in light of our pending flu season. So with that, happy to, of course, answer any questions, and again, thank everybody for your time and your attention.
Speaker 3: (33:36)
Jeremy White, Politico.
Jeremy White: (33:39)
Hey, Governor, thanks for giving us some time. You have been among Democrats who have warned about what the impact of a sixth conservative justice on the Supreme Court would be. I was hoping you could talk with a little more specificity about some California policies, particularly parts of your agenda, that you fear could be endangered by a sixth conservative justice.
Gavin Newsom: (34:01)
Yeah. I don’t want to get too much in the weeds, except to say on social justice, economic justice, environmental justice, broad strokes, I’m very concerned. I’m concerned, clearly, about tens of millions of people that have pre-existing condition protections because of the ACA, the expansion of the Medicaid system in this country and the impact that could have, millions of people losing the ability to get quality healthcare as a consequence of the ACA. I’m worried about the environment, clean air. I’m worried about clean water. I’m worried about the capacity for states like California to continue to lead, not just this nation, but lead the world in terms of low-carbon, green growth. I’m worried, broadly, about protection, minority communities, the LGBTQ community. I’m worried about a series of issues that, obviously, present themselves, self-evidently, as points of concern and points of departure as it relates to precedent, not least of which the impact on Roe v. Wade and the impact on people’s freedom of choice, a value we hold dear here in the state of California.
Gavin Newsom: (35:11)
And so, clearly, those are points of concern. A 6-3 ideologically conservative majority could be impactful on all those issues and more for decades, potentially, to come. So, this is a profound moment in our nation’s history, and I know that all of us are anxious, at least those of us that share concerns about the stacking of the Court from an ideological bent, and obviously makes this election even more essential and more important.
Speaker 3: (35:47)
Adam Bean, Associated Press.
Adam Bean: (35:52)
Thank you, Governor. I have two questions. First, while the coronavirus numbers have been improving, Dr. [Gally 00:35:58] warned last week of an expected increase in cases and a potential 89 percent jump in hospitalizations in the next month. Now, in some counties, that could mean businesses again have to close or restrict services, so what do you say to those business owners who say they can’t survive a third shutdown?
Adam Bean: (36:14)
And secondly, as more schools are now offering classroom instruction, have you and the first partner decided whether your children will attend school in person?
Gavin Newsom: (36:22)
Well, it depends when the school makes a decision about whether or not they can move in that direction based on concurrence with the county. There are hundreds of schools, I think north of 600, the last I checked, though I’ll happily update you on that number, that have received waivers from all over the state of California in elementary schools. My kids, oldest just turned 11, youngest is 4, so we’re in that category, broadly. But beyond that, I have no update for you as it relates to my specific status and my family’s.
Gavin Newsom: (36:54)
As it relates to the broader issue of transmission, I would say to all the business men and women, I would tell all the entrepreneurs, and parents included, that we maintain our vigilance, if we continue to practice physical distancing and social distancing, we minimize mixing, if we abide by these mask mandates, then we can substantially address the concerns that you raised in your inquiry. And that’s fundamental and foundational. We all need to maintain our vigilance. As we modify, as we make progress … And we are making progress. You will hear Dr. Gally tomorrow update you on the tiered status. Many new counties are moving into new tiers that will allow them, with modification, to reopen businesses and the like, that we do so safely and we do so with our eyes wide open that we, again, are moving into the fall.
Gavin Newsom: (37:52)
And so if people can take seriously, and not let their guard down, take seriously this moment as we transition through the fall, and hopefully into spring where we have a vaccine and we can turn the page on COVID-19. If we can do everything in our power to mitigate that spread in the course of the next number of weeks and number of months, then we can avoid the example that you just set forth.
Speaker 3: (38:19)
Angela [Hart 00:38:20], Kaiser Health News.
Angela Hart: (38:23)
Thank you, Governor. I’m sorry if there’s a little bit of background noise. I just wanted to ask you sort of a bigger picture question on healthcare-related legislation. It’s more of a broad question, not necessarily asking about a specific bill. With lots of people losing their healthcare right now, I wonder if there’s anything that you’re going to do this year, from a broad perspective, to address some of those challenges legislatively. Is there anything that will help people with coverage or even cost-cutting measures?
Angela Hart: (38:56)
And then, kind of looking forward, I also was wondering some other questions, pitching into next year, is there anything realistic …
Angela Hart: (39:03)
[inaudible 00:39:00] similar question. Kicking into next year is there anything realistically, the healthcare costs or expansion effort, that will be realistically possible that’s on your agenda next year?
Gavin Newsom: (39:10)
Yeah. We’re committed to universal healthcare in the State of California. We made progress to advance the cause of not only physical health this year, but also brain health. New parity bill, package of mental health, substance abuse reforms, that I signed just last week, as an example of those efforts. We are committed to the long haul of not only reforming our Medicaid system, Medi-Cal here in the State of California, through a program called CalAIM into the future. It was delayed because of budgetary constraints this year. But that reform we are committed to advancing over the course of the next few years to re-imagine our mental health and physical health financing system, funding system, incentive system, prevention system.
Gavin Newsom: (39:56)
A program that we have worked hard to design and now a program that we look forward to advancing. We are committed to that cause. I’m already working through the last, well few dozen bills, that are on my desk ending this legislative session. They have to be done by this Wednesday. But also concurrently working on next year’s budget. Healthcare has long been a top priority for me, my administration, and long-term health care is also a frame of concern around issues of seniors as well.
Gavin Newsom: (40:32)
Not just individuals related to our current marketplace, but looking long-term at bringing down the cost of healthcare and addressing the needs of an aging and graying population. So all of that is on the agenda. All of that we will advance. The question is, where is the economy? The question is, what is our capacity to deliver on some of these bold ideas? That’s going to be determined by a number of issues that will take shape over the course of the next number of months. That’s around macro economic recovery, ability to mitigate the spread and transmission of this disease that will aid to that economic recovery, general fund revenue, and who the next president of the United States is.
Speaker 4: (41:19)
David Baker, Bloomberg News.
David Baker: (41:22)
Governor, I want to ask something related to the fires. We have as a state put a lot of money and effort over the last couple of years into trying to prepare for fire seasons, to reduce the likelihood of major fires. Yet we are now seeing fires, even in areas that burned within the last five years. Are there any steps you’re thinking of in the future that we need to take that we haven’t so far? Any other way we can attack this problem?
Gavin Newsom: (41:53)
Yeah, it’s an opportunity, and I appreciate it, to remind you of some of the commitments we’ve made moving forward to more than double our vegetation management in the State of California, to finally advance the cause that we advanced a few weeks back, a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to get the Forest Service to address the 57% of the forested land in the State of California that’s under their jurisdiction, 3% under the state’s jurisdiction. We have been investing more than the federal government, and more to invest in vegetation forest management, in federal lands than the federal government themselves. A new partnership that is taking shape will advance a more coordinated strategy and will provide more resources from the federal government, which should help aid and advance our efforts around prevention.
Gavin Newsom: (42:41)
Accordingly, we did 35 high-profile projects in the State of California. We were able to complete those within about 15 months. Some of those were on the docket 10, 15 years to be completed. We were able to get them done in 10, 15 months. We’re taking that spirit, and we’re taking that proposal, and we’re putting it to scale. This is a specific answer to your question. You’ll be hearing from me and our team at Cal Fire, Thom Porter, Chief Porter and others, about our efforts to substantially increase the prioritization of projects. Recall, the prioritization is not just looking at vegetation forest management projects writ large, but targeting those investments from a socioeconomic perspective, from a perspective of communities that are “most vulnerable” and could have most impact in terms of structures and lives lost, ingress-egress issues related to mobility.
Gavin Newsom: (43:36)
So you’ll be hearing a lot more about those efforts in the coming weeks. In addition to that, as I just noted, I’m putting together next year’s budget in real time. We put an historic amount of money in the budget, going back to last year, the Brown administration, the first two years of my administration. We’re going to do more still to invest in prevention, pre-deployment of assets, more firefighters, better technology, Technosylva technology, which was part of our RF2 proposal of innovation, has really aided our efforts this year in looking at predictive fire analysis, allowing us to preposition assets based upon weather patterns, using some of the latest technology. We have infrared technology, new cameras that have been deployed not only by the state, but by the IOUs themselves, more still coming in that space, new equipment that’s finally coming online, more air suppression equipment, more traditional equipment that has been procured, but hasn’t been yet delivered.
Gavin Newsom: (44:40)
That is being delivered this year, next year, and more still to come after that. So there’s a lot of progress. We’re not standing still. We’re not just victims of fate. We want to shape this future. We want to work on suppression, work on prevention, and then work on adaptation and strategies that are longer term as it relates to decarbonizing our economy. I think we took a bold and very direct step there last week with a number of announcements, and we look forward to codifying those efforts with the California Air Resources Board and the incredible leadership of Mary Nichols, and work with the legislature to advance that collective cause as it relates to changing the way we produce and consume energy here in the State of California.
Speaker 4: (45:24)
Julie Watts, CBS 13.
Julie Watts: (45:30)
Hi governor. Thanks so much for taking our question. Regarding the widespread EDD mail fraud, the task force was not instructed to look into fraud, but we’ve now tracked thousands of addresses where people are getting fraudulent EDD mail. Have you requested data to understand just how widespread this is, and frankly, how many millions of taxpayer dollars have been lost so far? Secondly, governor, while most believe fighting homelessness is a noble cause, what do you say to people who question spending a hundred million in COVID funding on long-term homelessness projects, as opposed to projects that directly impact disease spread and prevention?
Gavin Newsom: (46:05)
Well, we have close to quarter of a trillion dollars this state invests. You example where some of the investment was made, and forgive me but it was six or seven months ago that I believe the issue of homelessness was the top agenda item in the State of California. People from all political stripes and every part of the state demanding the state do more and do better in that space. The crisis has only gotten worse, not better, because of COVID-19, and so our responsibility remains, and my commitment and resolve have only increased to advance that effort.
Gavin Newsom: (46:36)
But the point you’re making is more broad. It is that all of us need support and I’ll put up the work we’ve done on essential workers, protecting working families, protecting those with sick leave and workers’ comp protections, and providing more supports, including an earned income tax credit, which no other state in America has come close to advancing, getting a billion plus dollars into the pockets of working families over the course of the last number of months in this state. So we have a series of efforts that we’ve advanced to help the middle class and working families, not just low-income individuals, not just people that have fallen through the cracks and defined as homeless here in the State of California, and if I may, including on the issue of healthcare.
Gavin Newsom: (47:20)
There’s no state in America that has advanced more support for middle-class families earning up to about $150,000 a year in offsetting the costs of healthcare than the State of California. That was something we did last year. No other state has been able to replicate that. We recognize we still have more work to do in that space, but it’s an example of our commitment and resolve to help the middle class, to help working folks, not just help people, again, that are struggling out in the streets and sidewalks, or from the vagaries of a pandemic-induced recession where they’re vulnerable to being evicted or vulnerable to ending up on the streets of our great state.
Speaker 4: (48:04)
Taryn Luna, L.A. Times.
Taryn Luna: (48:08)
Governor, you said last week that you support a ban on fracking through the legislature, but that would be a tough fight even among Democrats. And lawmakers say you need to get involved to make it happen in a way that we haven’t really seen from your office. So how involved do you plan to be in that legislative battle?
Gavin Newsom: (48:23)
Very. Thank you.
Speaker 4: (48:27)
Final question. Sophia Bollag, Sac Bee.
Sophia Bollag: (48:33)
Hi governor. The Secretary of State’s office is spending $35 million on a voter outreach campaign called, Vote Safe California, that’s being run by a consulting firm that supports Biden. I’m wondering how do you respond to questions raised by Republicans that this contract was pushed through illegitimately?
Gavin Newsom: (48:51)
Yeah. I just don’t know the details so forgive me, the specific contract that the Secretary of State’s office has put out. Let me look into that. Happily get back to you. Let me thank everybody for their time and attention. Let me thank all of you that continue to have done a wonderful job to mitigate the spread and growth rate of COVID-19. Again, I cannot impress upon us more, when you look at these R-effective rates starting to creep back up, the importance of being vigilant, importance of maintaining our vigilance to mitigate the spread. Accordingly, I can’t impress upon people more this final point.
Gavin Newsom: (49:28)
That is, when Cal Fire, Office of Emergency Service, respective agencies, be it sheriffs, police departments in your respective jurisdictions, call for an evacuation that we take seriously these local evacuations related to these fires. The dynamics of climate change, the dynamics as it relates to the lack of forest management over the last century, have created a dynamic of real concern as it relates to the spread of these wildfires in ferocious ways. That just as a reminder should be to everybody to take seriously those evacuation orders. So many of the people that have lost their lives were just cautious in terms of taking seriously those orders.
Gavin Newsom: (50:13)
We really, really cannot say it enough, please heed local law enforcement. Please listen to them when they raise that alarm bell and when they try to put to use the resources at bear to focus on the fires, not just focus on the evacuations. So evacuating helps us mitigate the spread of these fires, impacts our suppression efforts in a very tangible and real way, allows our firefighters to do what they’re hired to do first and foremost. That’s to get out and save your property and save your lives. But you, all of us, have role to play in terms of those evacuations orders as well. Thank you all very much, and look forward to updating you more on the state of these challenges, and tomorrow look forward to Dr. Ghaly updating you as it relates to our tiered status as well. Take Care.