Apr 24, 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom California COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 24
Governor Gavin Newsom of California held a coronavirus press conference today, April 24. Read the full transcript with his updates.
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Governor Newsom: (06:58)
Good afternoon. We’ve been thinking a lot about how we can not only protect our seniors in the state of California, a source of deep focus of our efforts since the beginning of this crisis, but also, look at the economy in this state at the same time, and look at supporting particular industries that have been ravaged by this stay at home order, and today we want to announce an effort to address all three issues at once, and that is a partnership that we have formed with FEMA. Over the course of the last few weeks we have been working diligently to create a framework for engagement with our federal partners to help support an effort first in the nation to take care of our seniors most important needs, and that is their nutritional needs, to make sure that they are fed, to address the issue of isolation.
Governor Newsom: (07:56)
We estimate that some 1.2 million of our seniors in the state of California live alone. There’s over 5.7 million older Californians, but 1.2 million live alone, socially isolated, unable, in many respects to cook their own meals, unable to provide the kind, or be provided the kind of nutrition and support that they deserve. We’ve been thinking about what we can do, what more we can do with these extended stay at home orders, and the expectation that even as we begin to toggle back on the stay at home orders that our seniors will continue to be a focus of our energies, and a focus of consideration as it relates to making sure that they’re truly protected in this crisis, and the expectation that our orders for our seniors may come later, they may lag, and so, the need to be more aggressive, to be more focused, more supportive of our seniors has been top of mind.
Governor Newsom: (08:57)
And so, working with FEMA on ways to provide nutritious meals to our seniors to get them delivered, but also, to get them prepared. We started thinking about building a partnership with our restaurant industry, with kitchens, with our hospitality industry. It’s been ravaged by this pandemic, and this has led us to an announcement today, a partnership not just with FEMA but now partnership with cities, and counties for a locally driven strategy to get our restaurant workers, our hospitality workers to prepare and deliver nutritious meals to our seniors, and have the capacity to not only deliver and prepare, but to pay for this endeavor.
Governor Newsom: (09:41)
This partnership will allow for the ability for restaurants to start rehiring people, or keep people currently employed, and start preparing meals, three meals a day, seven days a week, and have those meals delivered to our seniors all throughout the state of California. We will provide unlimited number of meals, no cap in terms of that support, but there is an eligibility cap. For seniors, they must have eligibility in this frame. They must either have been at high risk of exposure to COVID-19, must be in a position where their economics are below 600% of federal poverty, must have already been impacted or exposed directly to COVID-19 or more broadly have compromised immune system.
Governor Newsom: (10:39)
So, there’s a category in this frame, but beyond that, now we have the ability to have a locally driven decision making to start employing workers, and get these restaurants reopened, and provide hundreds of thousands, if not millions of prepared meals every day delivered to our seniors throughout the state of California. Their reimbursements work along these lines, $16 for breakfast, $17 for lunch, and up to $28 reimbursements for dinner, so $66 a day will be reimbursed. There’s nutritious guidelines. I keep saying nutrition for a reason. We want to make sure that we are focused on locally produced produce. We want to connect our farms to this effort. We really want to focus our values throughout the state of California to get a lot of independent restaurants up and running again as well, and have a diversity of options.
Governor Newsom: (11:40)
And, make sure that what we’re sending to our seniors is low sodium, not high-fructose drinks, or sugary drinks, and the like, and so, there’s guidelines that we’re putting up, and we’re just very excited about this partnership. This partnership also can support local government because the generation of local sales taxes associated with these purchases actually could start generating revenue and support for the local economy, so it’s one of those rare areas, this first in the nation partnership where we’re really addressing three problems at the same time in a very meaningful way. This program goes into effect immediately, and we’re looking forward to local government again making the determination, and the decision of which restaurants are eligible for participation and we will work on reimbursements.
Governor Newsom: (12:32)
We will work on making sure that we’re supporting local governments share, we’re providing 75% of the 25% of local governments requirement in terms of the cost of this program, so a very small percentage is born by local government. The state picks up a disproportionate share of that, and again, FEMA, and our federal partnership picks up the rest. The counties will identify those seniors that are eligible, and we continue to encourage people to do two things. The local level, if you’re a senior, and you believe you’re eligible for this program, call your local 211 and that will be the perfect point of contact to begin the process of eligibility. If you don’t have a local 211 in your jurisdiction, go to our covid19.ca.gov website, covid19.ca.gov website.
Governor Newsom: (13:28)
I’m not naive that everybody has access to the internet, or even the 211 call centers, so we’ll be doing a lot of outreach in partnership with our county directors of our adult and aging services, and with our cities to be very proactive, and promoting this program, and getting it up and running over the next days, and weeks, and hopefully, seeing this scaled throughout this state of California. This we think is a real opportunity for rural California as well. Some of our favorite dining spots that may be closed down, large number of seniors socially isolated in our rural communities, and begin to connect those dots. Again, it’s not just about the meals, it’s about a human connection. It’s about someone just checking in as they’re delivering those meals, and making sure people are okay, and so, it extends a wellness narrative, and that’s something else I wanted to speak to as well today.
Governor Newsom: (14:23)
We are expanding, significantly expanding our wellness and outreach efforts as part of our announcement today. We are working with the Department of Aging and I’ll ask the director of Department of Aging appear in a moment. She’ll talk a little bit more about this program, but to build on existing supports of outreach for wellness, and check-ins in the state of California, and bring them to a whole nother level. We have through their leadership developed a wonderful partnership with Sacramento state, and all of their students that are focused on the issues of aging, genealogy and others that are going to be supporting this effort along with United Airlines. I just want to bring up the United Airlines as a point of personal privilege because United Airlines have reached out to us, and said, “What can we do with so many of our call center takers?”
Governor Newsom: (15:17)
The folks that are on the lines usually dealing with an overwhelming volume of calls about travel plans. Obviously, those individuals are not being utilized. I imagine you may be saying, “Well, send them over to EDD for unemployment insurance processing.” No, we have 1,340 people that we already have transferred, an additional 350 we’re supporting those efforts. We can talk more about that in a moment, but we thought they would be perfect because of how they’re organized, and positioned to be able to make wellness calls in partnership with Sacramento state, and in partnership with our Department of Aging, so we just want to thank United Airlines. I love the idea that the folks that we usually check in to get our travel arrangements done or be checking in with…
Governor Newsom: (16:03)
… check in to get our travel arrangements done or be checking in with our seniors and older California’s just to check in on their mental health and see what they need. In addition to that, we’re working with CERT. I may have mentioned, I have in the last number of press conferences CERT. It’s our emergency response teams. They’re all throughout the state of California. They’ll provide an additional 900 staff. So we’re well in excess of 1000 new folks that are going to be focusing in very deliberatively on these wellness checks and we’ve actually created what we call a friendship line, (888) 670-1360. You’ll see that right on the screen. That’s the line people can call just to check in. Just to call to see that… Well, not only check in by making that a phone call, but know that we will have people checking in on you, checking in to see if they can be supportive of your needs. You just need someone to talk to, that’s the line a to call. You need someone you know to just listen for 5, 10, 20 minutes. You don’t need anything in particular. You need to need to get something off your chest. You want to share some thoughts, how you’re feeling, that’s the line. So that’s why we call it a friendship line. We’ve got great partnership. That line has been up for some time with the Alzheimer’s Association and folks have been checking in for people, dementia and other needs. We just want to broaden that access, broaden its availability to a broader group of individuals. So I encourage folks that maybe listening or watching to go to (888)670-1360. Make that phone call if you need a little bit of emotional support or just want to be able to emote and communicate with someone on the other line.
Governor Newsom: (17:54)
And so that’s the architecture of the framework of our announcement today. More supports for seniors, particularly those that are required to stay at home and are the most vulnerable to this disease. Also, supporting our restaurants and our hospitality industry more broadly. Supporting our communities in terms of the economic activity that this program will generate. And then making available this resource, this new army of volunteers and support staff to make sure we’re doing wellness check-ins proactively and then creating a line where you can proactively reach out for some support, emotional support and otherwise. That’s Broad Strokes. But we have Kim McCoy Wade who’s head of our Department of Aging helped organize all of this and built these support structures and Kim is here to talk a little bit more specifically about some of the program offerings and of course will be here to answer any questions in a moment as well. Kim.
Kim McCoy Wade: (19:02)
Thank you Governor. And I’m here today to speak directly to older Californians and thank you for really being the heroes. You were the first to answer the call of our governor on March 15th to stay at home. And because you answered that call, you have driven the curve down and you have saved lives in California and we are here as you just heard, to reaffirm our commitment to serve you, to partner with you. We see you. We see the leadership that you have shown in staying home, in driving that curve down, being the first to go home on March 15th. We see the sacrifice that you older adults are making. You are not at your jobs, whether it’s in healthcare or hospitals or the halls of Congress. You are teleworking. You are not volunteering. You’re missing your halls of worship in this Holy month. You’re missing your grandchildren. We see you.
Kim McCoy Wade: (19:46)
We see you and tragically we remember all of those who we have lost. We will not forget. You are not a number. We know your names. We want to hear your stories. We are joining with you and your families and grieving and you are dearly, dearly missed. Looking ahead, we need to continue saving lives here in California and we are moving with unprecedented innovation and urgency in these partnerships. We know we can’t tolerate the inequity. We are so pleased to see the growing response to homeless elders moving off the streets and moving out of congregate shelters and into more like a home. We know we can’t tolerate hunger. That’s why we’re so excited today by the partnership with our restaurants. We’ve been delivering more meals than ever in March and it’s going to grow even more in April and May thanks to these partnerships with a win-win for every sector of our community. And as our governor just said, we can’t tolerate loneliness.
Kim McCoy Wade: (20:49)
Loneliness is a terrible threat to our health and our community and that’s why we’re [inaudible 00:20:52]. All across the state we’re up to 1.7 million calls that we can count and now with the friendship line there’ll be even more calls, even more connection, even more human connection. And we’re equally committed to bridging the digital divide for older Californians too living at home, in senior living. The digital divide also has to be bridged. Last but not least, I’ve got to give a shout out to the gerontology students who are really showing us that we’re all in this together all across generations, young and old, coming together to feed, to talk, to connect, to stay home, stay healthy, stay safe. I am so proud that California believes in a California for all across the lifespan. For that eight year old who has a learning challenge, who is at home, struggling with school, learning, to that eight year old who’s widowed, who’s now living alone we are here for you. We are all here for you and so grateful for these new investments and new partnerships to continue this journey. Thank you.
Governor Newsom: (21:46)
Thank you Kim. Thank you for your leadership and your team and support and thank you for recognizing those family members that have been torn apart because of a loss of a loved one. Again, disproportionate number of our seniors vulnerable to COVID-19. And it’s just an opportunity and a reminder as always to make this fundamental point. Even if you feel you’re young and healthy and you are somehow not necessarily high risk to this disease, I want to remind you there are others that you may love, family members, people in your direct circle of friends and relations that may be more vulnerable, but none more precious than our seniors. The folks that raised us, the folks that built our middle class and the most precious resource we have. And so we are committed to their health, to their safety and working through these new guidelines and these new partnerships. I think we have substantively advanced this cause.
Governor Newsom: (22:47)
Again, the eligibility requirements will be put out at local and county level up and down the state. These are for people that otherwise ineligible for other programs, who are not getting support. Meals on Wheels can only do so much. So this is a variant on the incredible work Meals on Wheels does but at a huge scale that we think can make a huge impact in the lives of potentially millions of Californians both on the service delivery side and on the recipient side itself. First in the nation. And again, deep gratitude to the partnerships, including the incredible partnership with FEMA, the federal government for allowing us to be the first to set up this program.
Governor Newsom: (23:32)
Kim made a point about lives lost and I appreciate that. As we do every day at our press conference, we extend our condolences to those that have lost their lives over the last 24 hour. 93 additional people lost their lives compared to time I spoke yesterday until today. We saw 5% more people test positive over the last 24 hour period for COVID-19. Again, those should be sobering and cautionary statistics as it relates to the desire that we all have to get back to some semblance of normalcy and answer the question of when that will happen.
Governor Newsom: (24:12)
The good news in terms of the numerical statistics to which we again attach a lot of consideration in terms not only of our daily briefings but more broadly in terms of monitoring our capacity to begin to augment and modify our stay at home orders, hospitalizations and ICU numbers. Hospitalizations were flat yesterday. No statistical growth. Again, you saw yesterday’s decline from the previous day. Today we’re seeing with that decline a flattening, so some stability. We continue to say stability in our models, but particular stability in hospitalizations. That’s good news. Accordingly, our ICU numbers, which were down yesterday, they’re slightly up, but just 1%, which again is encouraging.
Governor Newsom: (25:01)
I mentioned this yesterday that there were four things that happened all at once that we had not seen since the beginning of this pandemic and that was not just hospitalization numbers down the day before, but also ICU numbers and those people under investigation. Good news is three of the four indicators showed a flattening or decline. Only the ICU numbers showed an increased number of PUIs for ICU dropped slightly, so did hospitalization. So again, some encouraging signs, but we’re not by any stretch of the imagination in a position to say that those six indicators to which we make our determination about the future of our stay at orders, that any new lights are yet green.
Governor Newsom: (25:46)
We were able just 48 hours ago to make the announcement as it relates to scheduled surgeries. That was the first augmentation on our way to ultimately producing the kinds of augmentation that all of you expect and demand as it relates to our stay at home orders. But we continue to be vigilant in the other spaces and we continue to monitor information as it comes in real time from all across the State of California. I’ll remind you what I said yesterday and the day before, I recognize California is despite it being a state is many parts and that means we recognize the incredible imperative and importance of recognizing regionalism and how local conditions are distinctive from one another. All the information I gave you as I do on a day like this is in the aggregate. Again, none of us live in the aggregate.
Governor Newsom: (26:43)
And so too, when we consider loosening of our stay at home orders, we will consider local conditions and we will consider those things not only from the perspective of the spread of the virus, not only from the perspective of number of deaths and trendlines, but also in terms of our broader capacity. What’s the hospital capacity? What’s the resource capacity from a physical perspective? What’s the human resource capacity as it relates to potential surge if there’s a new outbreak in an increase in the spread of the virus? If one city opens, are we recognizing that people will start commuting into that city and then go back home into their city? We have to consider all of these things in total. And again, that’s part of our larger effort with those six specific indicators that we continue to update on a daily basis and I will update you as soon as we have more clarifying news as to again, answering that question of when.
Governor Newsom: (27:49)
We don’t debate dates, we only are guided by indicators and the indicators that will ultimately allow us to reopen safely, judiciously, and very, very thoughtfully. So with that, we just wanted to again announce some very good news in terms of this broader program and the new procedures we put in place with our local partners. We look forward to supporting mayors and county leaders in this project as we grow and as we expand it. We continue to recognize the importance of addressing the needs of social, those socially isolated and their mental health needs. And that’s what this friendship line was all about. And I continue just want to thank all the partners that came around the table of course the last few weeks to help put this partnership together so that we could make the announcement.
Governor Newsom: (28:43)
[inaudible 00:28:43] before I open up the questions. As we do, we always want to ask before I end and that is to ask you if you are willing to help and support not only the causes we announced here today but more broadly the cause I think that unites all of us and that’s the cause of contribution. Just a few days ago we announced the Californiansforall.ca.gov website. Californiansforall.ca.gov website. I told you we had over 20,000 people call on that first day. We are over now 26,000 of you have filled out the application and have begun the process of contributing and volunteering in your community. I just want to thank all of those that have done so and extend a heartfelt expression of appreciation. I hope others will continue the same.
Governor Newsom: (29:36)
One final point and then I will turn it over to questions. Also just want to thank everybody that helped organize a program we announced a seems a week ago, maybe it was a week and a half or so ago. We talked about care for the caregivers and the importance we’re placing on taking care of our caregivers, particularly those that are supporting our seniors in assisted living, skilled nursing facilities and the like. We announced two programs, the stipends. $500 stipends that we’re providing, these cards that we were distributing to thousands and thousands of our healthcare workers and I announced those numbers couple of days ago. An unprecedented number of people that will be getting the benefits of those stipends. But I didn’t mention the number of people that got the benefit of our hotel rooms. The hotel nights and the need to decompress, to take a shower, to change, to not have to stay the night in your car or at a friend’s house because of the commute. The folks that truly are on the front lines, we wanted to help them. Just remarkably in a very short period of time.
Governor Newsom: (30:39)
The state has already procured 56,000 room nights that had been completely 100% reimbursed. 56,000 room nights to truly manifest the phrase care for our caregivers. And I just want to thank the team that helped organize that program and I just want folks to know we are following through on that. It’s scaling. Some 19,000 people now have filled out applications. We’re trying to turn them around like we are so many other applications in real time. But thousands of people have taken advantage of it and we hope thousands more will in the future. Not every one of those that inquire for the benefits of this program get 100% reimbursement. Again, we grade the complete contribution from an individual and the state based upon income. But the 56,000 number is 100% reimbursement. Thousands others are paying a small percentage. People with higher incomes also getting the benefit but on a sliding scale. So I just thought that was important to update you on so that you know things that we announce, we just want to keep you connected to not only the cause, but to the progress and know we are holding ourselves accountable to progress in that space as well. And by the way, that includes progress we made that I knots last Saturday of project room key.
Governor Newsom: (32:03)
Includes progress we made that I announced last Saturday, a project room key for our homeless and we continue to get more and more rooms every day, more and more people off the streets to congregate facilities into those housing units as well, those temporary hotel units as well and again just want to thank our partnerships in that place for continuing their vigilance and hard work. With that, happy to answer now any questions?
Speaker 3: (32:25)
Don Thompson, AP.
Don Thompson: (32:28)
Good afternoon, Governor. You said lifting the stay at home orders for seniors will likely to be slower. Do you envision it being based solely on age like it wasn’t the start of this whole thing for those over 65 when they were told to stay home? Do you expect there’ll be a combination of antibody and other virus testing? And on the cost side, you’re saying millions of Californians could benefit from this, the per diem will be $66 a day. Is there an estimate for the cost of this and given that they might stay home longer, how long do you expect to have to provide these meals?
Don Thompson: (32:59)
Until they can leave their homes again or is there an envisioned timetable here? And if you could expand [inaudible 00:33:05] cost factor a little bit as well on who’s picking up this, FEMA 75% it sounds like and then 75% of the state, the local government costs, if I understood you correctly. Thanks.
Governor Newsom: (33:19)
Thank you. Yeah, no, and I appreciate it. Thank you for the question and you answered at least one portion of your question very accurately. 75% reimbursement, the 25%, there is a local share of which we’re picking up 75% of the 25%. I know these numbers can sound confusing, but it’s a relatively modest share at the local level. And as I said earlier, if significant sales of food, we’ll see sales tax generation at the local level that should more than offset the local costs, if we this program to scale. Eligibility, again, it’s all about eligibility, but the universe of those eligible is certainly in the millions. That said, the number of meals, three meals per day per person, even if it’s hundreds of thousands that take advantage of this just in weeks you’ll see millions and millions of meals part of this program. And so that’s the framework of eligibility that we laid out earlier and again we’ll make that a very, very public. Covid19.ca.gov website, you’ll see more information. We’re going to localize it with these 211 call centers working with cities and counties that will be making more information available so we can get people to take advantage of this program.
Governor Newsom: (34:33)
But it is as you suggest for the duration of this crisis and our orders. The Extent that our seniors remain our most vulnerable population and those with compromised immune systems, we are going to be yes, particularly sensitive as it relates to any augmentation on our stay at home orders to protect those that need most protection. And so I think it’s just an honest statement, not surprising, I think, to anybody that we would suggest the first orders to begin to augment and modify the stay at home are not likely to be our seniors.
Governor Newsom: (35:12)
It certainly won’t be people congregating in large events in large crowds mixing. I think again, all that is sort of driven by common sense and that is a big part of what we’re doing. Yes, data, yes, health focus, but also a little bit of common sense as well.
Speaker 3: (35:29)
Leila Fadel, NPR.
Leila Fadel: (35:34)
Good afternoon, Governor. On Wednesday you said that you wanted medical examiners in the state to look back to as far as December for deaths that might’ve been COVID-19. Is this a directive being sent to these offices and what do you hope to learn by searching for possibly earlier deaths?
Governor Newsom: (35:49)
Yeah. Let me ask it. In fact, just because they’re here, Dr. Ghaly is here who worked with Dr. Angell that initially started engaging these conversations sometime back. They could talk a little bit more about those specific conversations and talk a little bit more specifically about why they felt it was important to begin to claw back a little more forensic understanding of when we can mark a moment where this virus came to the state of California and why that’s important from an epidemiological perspective and in terms of informing our strategy and our next steps. So Dr. Angell will come up as our health director and spend a little bit more about those conversations.
Dr. Angell: (36:36)
Thank you for the question. It is very important and as we look forward to really understand what happened at the beginning of this whole process. As we heard very recently, an investigation of additional cases in Santa Clara demonstrated an earlier case. That was because of the coroner at that point as they were doing their investigations had noted that an infection could in fact have been associated with the case that was seen. At the state, we are also looking very carefully across and matching our cases with the reports that were coming from coroners to make sure that we are not missing any example cases that are related to a death if that death has not been identified as being related to COVID-19, we are investigating that further.
Dr. Angell: (37:24)
Likewise, if we have a death associated with COVID-19, we’re looking to see if it was reported earlier in that individual. As we move forward, we will continue to be very thoughtful about what could have happened in the past and we’ll continue to work with our local coroners to understand more about the progression of COVID-19 in our communities.
Governor Newsom: (37:49)
And as that information is forthcoming, you’ll either report it directly or will report it out appropriately. Next question.
Speaker 3: (37:57)
Maribel Lopez, Univision Sacramento.
Maribel Lopez: (38:00)
Hello, Governor. We’re at the end of the week and just a few days from the new month to start and our undocumented viewers still don’t know when they’re going to get their disaster relief assistance money. I know the website says that the date of the distribution will be mentioned by next week, but people want to know a date now. I know some of them don’t have money to eat, nor to pay rent. So can we have a date when this one is going to be given to them and can you also give us a criteria of who will be getting priority for the assistance and who will be left out?
Maribel Lopez: (38:28)
Governor Newsom: (38:28)
So the CBOs will make that determination at the local level. Again, $5 million on a regional basis is the minimum contribution to CBOs throughout the state. You’ll see substantially more supports for those with higher density of population that are eligible. Again, individuals and families are eligible and we’ll do our best to broaden this program working with philanthropy, not just with my colleagues in the legislature who had been incredibly supportive of this program. I just want to remind you and I also want to compliment a very publicly the Asian Caucus and the Latino Caucus and the black Caucus for their support of this effort, for their urging of the creation of this program.
Governor Newsom: (39:11)
As you know, we’ve been sued in this program. We’re doing everything our best to make this work and to get this information out in a timely basis. The website made the indication about next week for a reason and we are very eager to get a specific date out as I know you are eager to distribute that date. When I have it, I will provide it for you and we are in real time trying to get that information out as quickly as possible. But we just announced this a few days ago and now we are reorganizing at the local level all throughout the state of California to put in all of the points of contact and prioritization and get all that information out as quickly as possible.
Governor Newsom: (39:54)
So anticipate we’ll be answering that question, I hope, as early as Monday of next week.
Speaker 3: (40:00)
Brody Levesque, LA Blade.
Brody Levesque: (40:03)
Good afternoon, Governor. This is actually the same thing in two parts. I got a press release from Senator Winter’s office today and I’m going to quote part of it. He’s talking about the fact that neither the federal government nor state government is collecting data on the pandemic’s direct impact on the LGBTQ community and in general the Senator is saying that the community is being ignored. And as to go with that, before the pandemic struck, a disproportionate amount of the LGBTQI community are on the gig economy.
Brody Levesque: (40:39)
The AB5 legislation basically killed their jobs and now there’s questions being raised as to whether or not you are willing to suspend the loss or to work with the assembly to rework the law coming out of the pandemic on the other side and even right now currently.
Governor Newsom: (40:59)
Respectfully, I’m not sure those jobs were killed, but I appreciate the broader concern. Let me speak to the broader concern. On April 28th, those PUAs, talked about PUIs a moment ago. These are the pandemic unemployed assistant grants that are coming from the federal government will start being distributed in the state of California every 24 to 48 hours. We’ll turn around those checks as soon as we get this system up and operationalized. As you know, those are the individuals that otherwise are not eligible for unemployment insurance that are in that workforce, independent contractors, gig workers, but also those that are self employed and so that system is being architected.
Governor Newsom: (41:46)
We announced that very prescriptively about a week or so ago and we are going to hit our target date and I’m confident we’ll be able to turn around those checks, by the way, within again, 24 to 48 hours. The traditional UI process is about a 21 day process, so it will be even more successful turning this around quicker. As it relates to LGBTQI issues and making sure that we’re breaking down data, that’s very important to me. For the life of me, I hope people aren’t accusing even my friends in the legislature, not deep sensitivity and deep compassion and concern for the unique needs of the LGBTQ community.
Governor Newsom: (42:30)
It’s been a big cause of my life and a big reason why I’m able to answer the why question. Why am I even interested in public service? It’s one of the reasons I care deeply because I care about all communities that have been impacted and oppressed and disproportionally are struggling because of race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. And so I have Dr. Angell is here who has also made this the cause of her life and she perhaps could talk a little bit more specifically about what our data collection does look like and what it will look like as we march forward into the future.
Dr. Angell: (43:11)
Thank you so much for that very important question. Absolutely inequities or a lack of access to care across the spectrum of our populations is of primary concern, particularly in the face of COVID-19. Our LGBTQ community also deserves and needs to have that data to understand and for our communities to be able to act and respond accordingly. This data can be difficult to collect through our current standard mechanisms of reporting because this is information that is not necessarily reported regularly. Very much like the data that we’re collecting around race, ethnicity.
Dr. Angell: (43:46)
These are things that we’re looking very carefully at and looking at ways of improving our systems so that we can get this information into the hands of people can take action on it, ourselves and our local County authorities as well. So we’ll be reporting back to you for methods that we’re coming up with that. And again, thank you for your question. This is incredibly important to ourselves as an administration and as a state.
Governor Newsom: (44:09)
Speaker 3: (44:10)
[inaudible 00:44:10] ABC7.
Speaker 4: (44:14)
Thank you, Governor. California saw a significant increase in its testing numbers this week as compared to other states when adjusted for population, going from a ranking of 48 last week up to 27 this week. What accounted for the increase specifically and if California continues to improve its testing, will the state be more likely to be one of the first to reopen?
Governor Newsom: (44:35)
Yeah. I think if we are able to substantially increase the testing, it’s still not good enough. We need to do a lot more. 494,000 plus tests have been conducted to date. We want to see multiples of what we’re doing on an average day into the future. We have been very, very specific about those goals almost on a daily basis and for purpose of emphasis, repetition. Let me continue to remind you and others of what those goals are. We averaged about 2,000 tests a day through the end of March. We hope to be averaging 25,000 tests a day by the end of this month.
Governor Newsom: (45:16)
We’re well on our way of achieving that goal. We’re north of 16,000 a day as I speak. We are making progress for one reason. We took responsibility and we took initiative. Took responsibility for not doing enough in those first few weeks and started to recognize we needed to change the way we approached this issue. We put together a task force led by some of the top people we could find in this space that happened to reside in this state, but some of the top in the country, folks, researchers, scientists, folks in the front lines from our medical institutions and research institutions and private sector.
Governor Newsom: (45:58)
They put out a framework of new goals April 14th. Their goal was 10,000 tests a day. We were able to exceed that and their goal was 25,000 at the end of the month and I’m confident we’ll do the same. Just two days ago, Dr. Ghaly came up here and talked about the need to get to 60 to 80,000 tests a day. Why 60,000? Well, we’re working off the basis of 152 tests per every 100,000 individuals. You assume 40 million Californians, plus or minus. That’s about 60,800, roughly 60,000. We think we can go north of 60,000, that’s why the 60 to 80,000 range.
Governor Newsom: (46:40)
I mentioned two days ago that with all the instruments that we have in the state of California today, if we were at full throttle, everybody operating without consideration of supplies, reagents, tubes, RNA extraction, swabs, we can be running today at 95, 000 tests. So it gives you a sense of our capacity. But again, supply constraints continue to limit that. I mentioned 24 48 hours ago, some of the supply chain improvements, some swabs that came in from the federal government that are quite literally being distributed as I speak today, 90,000 that we announced yesterday.
Governor Newsom: (47:21)
We hope to see another 250,000 swabs next week. That’s for specimen collections. I mentioned the partnership with Abbott, 1. 5 million serology tests that we’ve procured that we’ll be distributing to 130 sites in the state of California. I mentioned two days ago the specific partnership we announced with OptumServe for 80 sites, mobile sites, end to end sites that are being distributed in rural parts of the state and the inner cities in this state and how those are being distributed in real time and the partnership with Verily. That’s the old partnership with Verily, a subsidiary of Google, to do six additional sites-
Governor Newsom: (48:03)
Verily, a subsidiary of Google, to do six additional sites to focus again on socioeconomic disparities and make sure we’re truly testing California broadly defined, not just parts of California. And those that somehow the privilege of getting ahead of the line. So we’re democratizing testing. We lifted the threshold of who could be tested, not just symptomatic, went further than the CDC guidelines, one of the first states to do that. And so forgive me for the long-windedness, I think it’s just important to remind people where we are in the testing. The answer specifically, your question is yes, if we can broaden the testing, that’s the indicator number one.
Governor Newsom: (48:39)
We announced on Wednesday that we are prioritizing more testing, provides more capacity, more capacity, not just to trace individuals that may have been exposed or contracted the disease, but to begin to isolate and quarantine them, as well as begin to serosurveillance, the broader community surveillance, that all of us look forward to in the antibody space, but with caution always, that we need to be careful about the promotion in that space. That’s something I have been cautioned directly about, and it’s something I want to just extend a point of caution and consideration to all of you, as well.
Governor Newsom: (49:20)
So all of those things together, stack up to a frame where, yes, we believe the more we can do in this space, much more than we’re currently doing, yes, the quicker, then we can start connecting more green dots in those other indicators that we laid out on Wednesday.
Speaker 5: (49:39)
John Myers, LA Times.
John Myers: (49:43)
Governor, you sent the National Guard to four senior nursing facilities in Los Angeles County of the recent days. Can you talk about that deployment? Talk about what the criteria are for deployment to additional sites. And, talk about what you hope them to do, and why, what prompted you, how big of a crisis you think that is?
Governor Newsom: (50:03)
No, I appreciate John. The issue of our seniors and it’s the topic today. And, wouldn’t be fully discussed if we didn’t bring up our skilled nursing facilities, our assisted living centers. I’ll just remind not you, but others, that we have 1,224 skilled nursing facilities in the State of California. We have an additional 7,461 facilities that are licensed outside of the SNFs, that we also have to organize around. It’s a remarkably large system. Imagine the largest anywhere in the United States. We have hundreds of thousands of patients in that system, and tens of thousands of staff. As you know, and you have been doing some outstanding reporting in this space, we have seen flareups in terms of the total of positives, not just patients, but also staff members, all throughout the State of California. Not just in Los Angeles County, but in rural parts of the State, in particular. Tulare County being one of the hotspots of concern.
Governor Newsom: (51:12)
So forgive me, the long-windedness, but the answer to your question is, the reason why we deployed on Sunday, Monday, the National Guard and those medical teams, was to help support the efforts to isolate, conduct tests, and to make sure that we’re sharing best practices and protocols within the system, particularly for those sites that we identify as more acute in need. How do we identify those sites? Well, we’re doing daily check-in calls. It’s not an exaggeration. Old fashioned calls, to all 1,224 skilled nursing facilities. Those happen every single day. Regionally, they’re done, and there’s a check-in. And we’re checking in on staff, we’re checking on number of positive patients, and checking in to the extent possible on these deaths. And those death numbers I know are important to all of us, and we’re trying to do our best to provide them. You saw some of the numbers we put out just yesterday.
Governor Newsom: (52:08)
So, we have a strike team that we’ve doubled. We hired 600 nurses, and we got them retrained to help provide even more support and staffing. We have temporary staffing agencies that we’ve contracted with, to help us on surge staffing. We prioritize testing at our skilled nursing facilities, and we’ve prioritized some PPE. And I say some because it’s not nearly enough, nor by the way as the testing. But the good news, more testing prioritization to the SNFs will continue. More PPE prioritization into our nursing homes will continue. But the National Guard is part and parcel of these larger teams that we’ve assembled, working with our infectious disease teams, and working with our partners at the CDC that are also part of this larger ecosystem. Final point. And we’re also working with the Navy, the USNS, and some of the personnel on that ship, to also come into the community to be redeployed to help also support these efforts. So, what was a simple question, forgive me, became a more complicated answer, but it’s a profoundly significant issue. One of the first points of guidance we put out executive orders was in this space. And right now, John, and for others that may be watching, as of yesterday, I’m getting the new numbers today. Forgive me, we’ll be putting them out later. But as of yesterday there were 522 facilities, of all the licensed facilities, that at some point in time had a patient that was infected with COVID-19. Just over 2,700 patients and staff. Patients and staff have the virus that we’re currently monitoring within our licensed system. So 522 sites yesterday, over 2,700 staff and patients that we’re monitoring. Some, very concentrated, some not so much. More testing will provide more clarity, more transparency, and of course with those death numbers 119, 420 that we put out yesterday, we’ll be getting a more contemporary stats on that.
Governor Newsom: (54:22)
And forgive me, final point again, I owe you specifics and transparency. We are currently providing information on all of those 7,461 licensed facilities, under Department of Social Services, of those sites that have six patients or more. We’re also working hard to get into those smaller sites where there’s maybe just one or two patients. Don’t be patient, because none of us should be. I’m not. But when that information is available, we’ll also be providing that. But there are HIPAA issues there, there are patient privacy issues, particularly in that space, that we all should be concerned about. But again, transparency is the priority, and we hope very soon to be providing even more of a picture in that space as well.
Speaker 5: (55:16)
Final question. Theo Douglas, Techwire.
Theo Douglas: (55:20)
Good afternoon, Governor, thanks for taking my question. Last week you discussed the check-in app or initiative, and Secretary Julie Su discussed the new app to assist people filing for pandemic unemployment assistance. Can you elaborate on those two initiatives or apps, and what companies worked with the State to develop them? And let me know when check-in went live, and who at the State uses it.
Governor Newsom: (55:43)
Good, I’m going to get you the company’s name on those apps. We’ll provide that for you. I see folks behind the camera that are making notes, and so we’ll directly get that information to you, as soon as we pull that down. I just broadly want to make this point about apps. I kid you not. I said this a few days ago. I said, “It’s a treasure trove, California. This is what we do best.” And, we provide platforms, but we also have so many folks mashing things up, using open data, using proprietary data, putting up apps, all these new APIs every day. And it’s very enlivening and exciting. The problem is, it’s a wealth, and it’s an abundance. And so, as soon as we’re close to pulling the trigger on a particular tracing app, or even a symptoms app, someone presents us another technology, that then raises questions of consideration on why that may be better than the other.
Governor Newsom: (56:40)
We’re very close to making a more formal decision on the tracing app and platform, or at least a number of them, that have the ability to cross-pollinate information. As Google, and as you know Apple are helping advance. Also, as it relates to the symptom check-ins. We have another app we’re putting out very soon, more broadly, that is beyond just even UI, which I’ll probably talk about Monday. But this is a space that I know you write about and it’s space we talk about, and it’s a space that will be I think be more, well, we’ll more formally be rolling out what we believe are the best decisions for the vast majority of Californians that we’ll certify very, very shortly. Forgive me again for the long-windedness in that.
Governor Newsom: (57:34)
But I want to just again not ask for any forgiveness from members of the public, just gratitude I want to extend for all of you, all 40 million Californians, for allowing me the privilege once again of saying that there were no increases in hospitalization. That’s because of you, and your incredible work. You’ve practiced physical distancing, you’ve taken seriously the stay at home orders. I know people are feeling very anxious. I said this yesterday, I’ll say it again. We’re walking into some record heat this weekend, and people are apt to want to be able to get outside, and at least get out perhaps even on the Coast and other parts of the State. We’ve been putting up a lot new information, working with Caltrans, working with State Parks, about what’s closed, what’s not. The overwhelming majority are closed.
Governor Newsom: (58:25)
I just caution you, if you’re going to get in the car, make a long drive, and expect to find parking to go to a closed beach, it is very unlikely. And I want to encourage people to do their best through this difficult weekend, where your temptation is higher to want to experience our natural beauty. Just to again consider the impact of those decisions, not only in yourself, but on the rest of the State, and on the rest of society, and continue again to do your best to practice physical distancing, wear face coverings where appropriate, and continue to do justice to this moment.
Governor Newsom: (59:08)
I hope next week, I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I hope next week we can start seeing some of these other indicators start pointing in the direction of green, and we can make those announcements. And I’m confident if you do your part, we will commit to doing our part to taking your good work, and bringing into a health frame in a public safety frame. And that will help me help move this cause forward, beginning to loosen the stay at home orders, and get this economy back up, and get you back to work into whatever semblance of normalcy the new normal will provide over the course of the next few months as we all look forward to the moment where we have herd immunity and/or a vaccine.
Governor Newsom: (59:59)
And so I want to again, thank you all for great work. Continue to do what you’ve done that got us to this point. And if any of you want to volunteer, go to that Californiansforall.ca.gov website. Take care everybody.