Jun 15, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom June 15 California Press Conference Transcript
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Governor Gavin Newsom: (02:00)
Well, good afternoon. I wanted to update those of you that are kind enough to tune in on our current efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. I wanted to update you on some of the trend lines. I wanted to acknowledge some of the headlines, and I wanted to give you a sense of where we believe we are going as a state. I say all of this mindful that the last few weeks have been challenging. The last few weeks have changed, in many respects, the focus of this nation, not just this state, but I want you to know, and be assured, that our focus remains very, very, very direct at addressing the issue of the spread of COVID-19 and cognizant of the fact that we are by no stretch of the imagination out of the woods. And we continue to have a lot of work to do.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (02:57)
I want to just begin with the following slide you see up here. It’s a photo of the state of California. That state slide represents the equivalent of roughly 21 different states in terms of total population. It’s important to make this point. The state of California, the largest state in our nation, 40 million residents strong represents the population of 21 States. So just imagine looking at that state map, putting in over 40% of America’s States, and that gives you a sense of the magnitude of the state of California and the magnitude of our responsibility to approach our response in a way that addresses the needs of different parts of the state of California, different regions.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (03:49)
Accordingly, we have long talked about the fact that our approach to addressing the issues of COVID-19 it’s spread and our suppression and prevention strategies have to be from the frame bottom up. We’ve long talked about the fact that localism ultimately is determinative, that we recognize local conditions are distinct and unique from one another. And we recognize that conditions in far reaches of California and northern parts of the state have very different than in the San Francisco Bay area, very different than the Los Angeles region. And accordingly, we have afforded the ability for local health directors working collaboratively with their hospital systems, working collaboratively with advocates and working of course, very collaborative with their elected officials to make determinations for themselves on when to move forward through our phased in approach.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (04:44)
As many of you have heard me say in the past, we put up guidelines, but guidelines don’t mean go. We put up guidelines that create a framework of how we believe we can reopen the economy safely, but we don’t prescribe when. We maintain, because of the size, scope and scale of the state of California, that those decisions should be made with local lens. Those decisions should be made by allowing and advancing localism to be the thrust and the guide to ultimately making the determination of when to move forward through these phases in safely reopening the economy throughout the state of California. We’ve often talked about it in terms of not being an on and off switch. So it relates to when we “reopen,” but a dimmer switch based upon again, data based upon science, again, counties ultimately using data to inform their decision. And it’s that data that we monitor.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (05:49)
Accordingly, and we’ll get to that in a moment, the foundational data that has described California’s approach to this pandemic and the realities and the challenges that we faced in this state in many ways can be exampled and it certainly is exampled here and highlighted in this slide. We were the first state in the country to move forward with a statewide stay at home order. Its purpose was self-evident. We wanted to avoid a major spike in COVID cases, and we wanted to buy time to build out our capacity, both our physical assets, our human capacity, and to make sure that we were preparing for inevitably reopening the economy. We never made the case that the stay at home order was a permanent state. We wanted to buy time. We wanted to mitigate a peak and a spike, and we ultimately wanted to save lives and prepare for a pandemic that needs to take its course until ultimately we have immunity until we have a vaccine.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (06:55)
There are a number of other States that experienced a spike. And as a consequence of experiencing a spike, they are experiencing a decline off those peaks. In California we were able to mitigate that spike, extend that curve as we often described and bought us the time that we needed to develop the resources so that we can effectively manage our way through this pandemic. Accordingly, we have focused on the foundational responsibility of testing so we can get a better sense of what’s happening in the community, understanding the prevalence of this disease and the spread of this disease.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (07:40)
What you can see on this slide is a significant decline in the positivity rate. Those that have been tested and the percentage of those tested that have tested positive for COVID-19 since we began testing here in the state of California in early April. Remarkably, if you look back the first 14 days in April, you’ll see a positivity rate that averaged, in those 14 days, 40.8%. Now, of course, and not surprisingly, in the early parts of this pandemic people with symptoms were prioritized for testing. And unsurprisingly, the positivity numbers were very, very high.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (08:23)
But you see from the blue part of this chart, that the tests were also scant. They were modest. We made that point abundantly clear that we needed to substantially and significantly increase the number of daily tests in the state of California. You can see from this chart that we very effectively have done that. And as we’ve increased the total number of tests from less than 2,000 a day to as, as an example, the last two days, 78,000 tests on Saturday, some 66,000 tests on Sunday, that the overall rate of positives have gone up, but the positivity rate, the percentage of those tested that actually have been tested positive for COVID-19 has declined and is flattened to roughly 4.5%. I say “roughly” because on any given day that number, that trend, seven to 14 days, the 4.5 reflects a 14 day average, it fluctuates. But it’s fluctuated within a very stable band, particularly over the last 14 days, again, 4.5%. A few weeks ago, I would have said it was roughly about that as well.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (09:36)
Just to give you an indication, we use a band, you see the 14 day band here of 4.5%. We also use a seven day figure. And seven days gives you a more contemporary sense of all right, we had a lot of protests a few weeks ago. Are we starting to see some positivity rate increases? The reality is even on the seven day a band it’s roughly 4.5, 4.6% to be exact. So again, testing’s increased. You see total number of positives increased as a consequence, but the percentage, the positivity rate has declined sharply and has remained stable over the course of the last month and a half plus, and certainly reflected in that 4.5% in the last 14 days.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (10:22)
Another thing we focus on with acuity is the spread rate. You could see, you had heard in the past this R rate. This R0 rate. Now we have a different variant on that, but spread rate’s an easier way of describing it. And it remains, as well, stable. It’s a little higher for everyone that had a COVID based upon our testing, based upon our capacity to trace people that were infected were spreading the virus at modestly higher rate than you see in the last number of weeks. Again, stability as it relates to spread rate, it’s just an important function, again, of the kinds of examples of what we focus on day in and day out from epidemiological perspective as it relates to the issues of the spread of this virus. So again, important graph and important point of emphasis as we move to reopen the state around the kinds of things that we’re looking at day in and day out.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (11:21)
Accordingly, we look at hospitalization rates and they remain stable. ICU rates, the blue line you see below the hospitalization, remain stable. What I mean by stability is over a 14 day period, just to give a proof point. ICU numbers are flat. And when I say flat, I mean, quite literally over a 14 day period have increased by .0%. They haven’t increased at all over a 14 day period. In fact, yesterday they decreased by 2.1% the day before by roughly 3%. So a trend line over a 14 day period that is holding stable. And you can see from that blue line, this extends well beyond just that 14 day period. It also extends through two important dates and you see on the slide May 8th that’s when we began to modify in a significant way, our stay at home order in the state of California. There was some sense that the hospitalization numbers would begin to increase, certainly anticipated positivity numbers to increase. As we saw more mixing, more people that were out and about as we reopened the economy.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (12:37)
But the good news is the ICU numbers remained fairly stable. The second number is Memorial Day. A lot of folks were out and about on Memorial Day and you can see again, the trendline remains remarkably stable. Again, our eyes are wide open. All of this data is a moment in time. Though extended with the benefit of hindsight, you can see the trends, but by no means does the past equal the future. And I’m going to get to that in just a moment. Accordingly, let me go back to the hospitalization number, the orange line you see above. Hospitalization numbers went up 0.4% yesterday. They were down by 3.1% the day before, but they’ve remained fairly stable in the last 14 days as well. In fact, the stability we have seen in the last 14 days is about a 4.4% increase.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (13:33)
It’s an increase nonetheless. Again, no increase in ICUs, an increase of 4.4% in hospitalizations. But again, considering we worked through the Stage Two May 8th opening and Memorial Day, those numbers are encouraging. Though, nonetheless, we want to see these numbers decline. And again, I’ll get to that in a moment as well. Here’s the point about capacity building that I was making a moment ago that cannot be reinforced enough. We talked about our need to build surge capacity in our hospital system. We’ve worked hard over the last number of months to do just that you can see specifically in this graph over 52,000 close to 53,000 surge beds we have now identified in our healthcare system. Currently, we have 3,103 COVID positive patients. So you’re looking at less than 6% of just our surge bed capacity. That does not include total number of hospital beds. That number you see above of roughly 74,000 beds, but just our surge bed capacity has been identified based upon the current census of 3,103 covert positive patients, less than 6% of that surge capacity has been accessed.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (14:55)
So this is an important point about our capacity. If the numbers go up, hospitalizations go up, the question is, can we absorb that? And the answer today, at least, is yes. Again, based upon the work that we’ve done over the last number of months to prepare to reopen our economy and prepare for the likelihood that we will see an increase in not only number of positive cases, but also the prospect of increase in hospitalizations. Accordingly, on ICU capacity, we’ve worked hard to identify our ICU capacity space. There’s close to 11,000 staffed ICU beds in the state of California, but roughly 3,775. I say “roughly,” that’s a snapshot as of last night. Today, plus or minus, those numbers will change, but you get a sense that we have capacity in our ICU system to address the needs of COVID positive patients, which currently is 1, 053.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (16:02)
So less than 28% of our capacity is being utilized, ICU beds, currently for COVID-19 positives. The good news is, again, we have seen no increase in the last two weeks in ICU cases, but nonetheless, this is a slide that represents what I do on a daily basis every morning. And that’s the data that we collect that is provided to me. That is the first thing I do when I open my eyes. What’s the number of positives? What’s the positivity rate? What’s our hospitalization capacity? What’s our ICU capacity? I wanted to make sure that you have the benefit of that information that is shared with me on a daily basis. The other information that’s incredibly important to note on this slide is the 11,652 ventilators that we have. That’s ventilators that exist within the hospital system and ventilators that exist in our own cache. You recall, we sent to force…
Governor Gavin Newsom: (17:03)
Our own cash. You recall, we sent to four states our ventilators during the acuity of this crisis. Those have been returned in most cases and those are part of our cash in addition to the hospital system. The good news is hospitals didn’t just sit back in the last few months. They’ve been working to get more ventilators. We continue to refurbish and work to get more ventilators, but again, having more than 11,000 vents is, from our perspective, fairly healthy at this moment, and we’ll continue to work hard to increase those numbers as well. So, that’s an overview of where we are in the aggregate. We have a state that is holding strong in terms of stability in case rates. We didn’t experience the great spikes as a number of East Coast states did, so of consequence, we’re not experiencing a precipitous decline in the number of positive cases, but the stability remains and is holding strong. Positivity rates, ICU, hospitalizations, but we recognize those numbers are in the aggregate, and none of us live in the aggregate.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (18:18)
If California is many parts, one body, then we have to recognize those many parts. Again, localism, notion of regions and these attestations that they can meet certain needs, demands, and expectations. We have now 52 of our 58 counties that have put out self-attestations. Basically, they’re planning to specifically address the needs of their counties as they reopen their economies at their own pace based upon local conditions. We actively monitor all 58 counties and their current data, and we target our engagement in areas where we see the numbers that are raising a little bit of concern. Currently, we have 13 counties of the 58 in the State of California, where we have targeted engagement, where we are providing technical assistance. We are providing human resources and physical resources.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (19:21)
Dr. Ghaly’s going to come up in just one moment and talk more specifically about that and also give you a preview of the dashboard that he looks at every single day, as it relates to where these counties are in terms of our targeted support and targeted engagement and the criteria, again, that we laid out in terms of that attestation process, and give you a sense of the seriousness of focus and the acuity of focus on different parts of California as we begin, or rather, as we continue to reopen this economy. So, with that, Dr. Ghaly will go for the next few slides and I’ll come back and sum a number of the points up. Dr. Ghaly?
Dr. Ghaly: (20:10)
Thank you, governor. As the governor said, we continue to work with all 58 counties on a daily basis, supplying the data and information that we see at the state level around a number of different variables so that we’re ensuring that we’re in lockstep with those county leaders around what’s happening locally and that we can support counties to improve situations that might need additional attention. As the governor said, of the 58 counties today, the number of counties we’re working with are 13. These are 13 counties for one reason or another we have a little bit of concern about the data, and we feel like early and frequent engagement around what’s going on locally with that added support at the state level, whether those are staff or ventilators or helping move some other patients into other counties to make sure that Californians get the care they need.
Dr. Ghaly: (21:09)
Before I move on from this slide, we do always have what we call our step three, instituting community measures, where we would work with a county where it’s difficult to get an important measure into our expected control level, and that we would be able to work with those local leaders, local health officers, who are, every single day, trying to make strong and good decisions for their counties in order that we put back measures that might be needed to ensure we get things under control and keep Californians safe. So, this slide is, as the governor mentioned, the slide that we look at every day. So, on the prior slide, we mentioned 13 counties.
Dr. Ghaly: (21:53)
This slide represents the counties as of today that have had three consecutive days of an area of focus or concern. This is in alphabetical order, not necessarily best to worse or any other order. You can see that we look at these specific measures, things that we’ve talked to you about for weeks, if not months. Things like the number of tests per 100,000 people. We want at least 150 tests per 100,000 people. We want to see no more than 25 per 100,000 cases in your communities. We want to see a testing positivity rate that is below 8%. We want to make sure that the level of increase in your hospitals with COVID-19 positive patients is less than 10%. Then, we want to see that the capacity both of the ICU beds and the ventilators stay above a specific threshold.
Dr. Ghaly: (22:52)
Here you can see the checks on this table demonstrate where each of these listed counties is meeting the measure, and where you see a number, we are tracking that number to try to help support the county to get that number back in line with the measure. So, each day we use this information through frequent calls and meetings and conversations about resource needs and plans so that we can make sure, as frequently as possible, we’re getting in front of issues early and trying to help support counties so that, as we look to reopen, we stay very vigilant around the data points that matter and we can support counties and make, in a very transparent way, the decision making known to those citizens in that county and who are throughout the state. We update this daily and whenever there are additional concerns, we have even more frequent conversations with our county partners.
Dr. Ghaly: (23:54)
I also just wanted to do one last thing before turning it over to the governor to talk about something you have all been tracking with us very closely, and that is the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain racial or ethnic groups in California. On this slide, you will see the blue line, or the blue bar, is the percent of that ethnic or racial group in the population of California. The orange bar is the number or percentage of cases among all COVID-19 positive cases in our state as it relates to that race or ethnicity. Then, the gray is the deaths. When we look at that, you see two things that come out and we reiterate it, we’re going to keep looking at it together with you as a state, and that is around Latinos. We see a disproportionately higher number of cases, and this requires us to continue to work with our Latino partners, our counties across the state, to determine what other efforts and interventions are needed.
Dr. Ghaly: (25:02)
For example, do we need to bring more testing so that it can be available earlier and often? Do we need to increase our capabilities around contact tracing and ensuring that we can support isolation and quarantine when necessary? Similarly, among African Americans or blacks, you’ll see that there’s a disproportionately high number of deaths relative to the number of cases and even relative to the population in and throughout California, and again, this requires us to look closely and work with the black communities across California to ensure that we have testing.
Dr. Ghaly: (25:42)
We know across the nation seems to be a trend that African Americans are showing up for testing much later in the course of COVID-19 and what that means is when we finally get someone to care that they’re sicker and we have a longer way to go to help them get back to health. So, those focused efforts are things that California is working hard on to ensure not just that treatment and ventilators and staff are getting into neighborhoods and communities where we see additional cases, but that things like testing and contact tracing continue to be a focus and, collectively across California, we continue to make gains in this space, but we will persistently in an ongoing way, share this information with you all so you can track with us our efforts and whether we’re seeing the impact we expect in California. So, with that, I’ll turn it back to you, governor.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (26:39)
Thank you, Dr. Ghaly. So, we again, are focused day in and day out on letting data guide our decision making. We recognize one size does not fit all. We recognize the imperative of advancing a paradigm of focus at the local level, working with health officers, working with local elected officials through this attestation process, monitoring that process, acutely providing technical assistance, providing support, human resource, and physical support, as needed. As I mentioned a moment ago, we laid out a series of indicators that were the predicate to our reopening strategy. We focused again on the importance and the imperatives of increasing the total number of tests in the state of California. We’ve done just shy of 3 million tests so far in California. Roughly 2.9 million to be exact. I mentioned the testing is starting to increase. 78,000 on Saturday, little over 66,000 yesterday. We’re getting very close to our goal, which was a goal for the end of the month, we’re getting there a little bit earlier, of roughly 60,000 tests on any given day.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (27:53)
We’re seeing the positivity rates remain fairly stable. They go up and go down but holding fairly strong. We talked about that as being a foundational indicator. We talked about the importance, the imperative of one of the indicators to make sure that we have the capacity in the state to meet hospitalization surge and to address the needs in our ICUs. You saw from the slide of ventilators and inventory North of 11,000. You saw from that slide that we are seeing some relative stability with our ICUs, and in our hospital capacity, we’re again, just less than 6% of our total capacity. By the way, I don’t mean to belabor this, but it’s an important point to make. That’s just our hospital surge capacity. That doesn’t include all the alternative care sites that the state of California locked in.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (28:46)
It’s a slide that I didn’t include today, but it’s one that I receive every morning as part of my morning briefing. We have 1,509 alternative care site beds in 10 counties that have been strategically placed in 10 counties that are not part of our total hospital system. Every morning, they update me in terms of the inventory, of utilization of those beds. This morning, it was just 27 in Orange County, San Mateo County, and, not surprisingly based upon the last slide that you saw just a moment ago, Imperial County. So, that is in addition to the hospitalization surge capacity that was part of the previous slide. Now, we want to go to the other indicators that have been a big part of a conversation. Again, capacity in terms of hospitals and ICUs, capacity in terms of testing, but also capacity to support vulnerable populations.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (29:53)
As you can see from this new slide, that is a focus in three areas though we’re highlighting two today, nursing homes and homeless populations. We, of course, are very concerned about people incarcerated in county jails and in our state system as well, but just as a proxy for our focus on vulnerable populations, it’s important to note and to update, particularly on the homeless side, that we were successful in reaching, in fact, surpassing our goal of 15,000 project room key units. We are at 82% occupancy for those that are asymptomatic. We set aside in that portfolio thousands of rooms for people that are COVID positive. That’s at 17% of that total census. That’s good news, not bad news because that means the rate of spread in this population, at least those that we’ve identified, have not required us to isolate and quarantine as many people as we had anticipated.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (30:59)
But overall, now, over 10,000 rooms are occupied, and not each room with one individual. Many of those rooms have multiple individuals getting three meals a day. All of that happening in just seven, eight, nine, last 10 weeks. So, I’m really proud of our team for putting together that program, proud of the work that’s being done at the local level. Still some work to be done at the local level in terms of taking advantage of this program, but again, it was a commitment we made. We are tracking that commitment on a daily basis, and that’s why we thought it was important to highlight. On the nursing homes, every day we get a tracking number. Less than 1% today, 0.3% to be exact, 0.7% on the patients and staff in those facilities, in terms of increase of positives. We are testing now more and more.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (31:54)
We now have a requirement to test everybody in the sniff. Well, in the skilled nursing facilities in this state. We’re getting reports back in real-time in terms of the positivity rate. Right now, reports that we’ve received was about a positivity rate of about 4%, just slightly lower than the overall positivity rate we’ve experienced, but that’s just with a small subset so I want to be cautious, 141 of the 1,224 skilled nursing facilities that have reported in, but they’ve been testing for some time. We’re getting that data in as quick as we can, as quickly as I can provide it back to you I will, but know that, again, is an area of deep focus and ongoing concerns if for no other reason than 50.3% of the deaths, over 5,000 human beings, have lost their lives, over 50% have occurred in these facilities. So, this remains our top priority.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (32:51)
We lost 26 human beings yesterday. Tragically, 74 the day before. But 5,000 since this pandemic began, and our heart goes out to every single one of them, every family member that’s lost their loved ones. We’re not out of the woods yet in terms of deaths either. Again, those numbers fluctuate. It was nice to see a relatively lower number yesterday of 26, but remember, we had a record number of 115 a number of weeks back. So, this remains an area of, obviously, deep concern, but never have we experienced what some other states had experienced. There’s one state, just as an example, between April 5th and April 14th, averaged 540 deaths every single day. We just never experienced that kind of spike, and obviously, don’t want to experience it. That’s why we have to keep our eyes wide open, and in order to do that, we have to keep our face covered. That’s why it is so important that we continue to provide and procure more personal protective equipment, not only for our first …
Governor Gavin Newsom: (34:03)
… or personal protective equipment, not only for our first responders and our frontline employees, clearly within the hospital system, within the skilled nursing facilities, but also our transit workers, our grocery workers, our truck drivers and the like. And so we have been working overtime for so, well, for many, many months to get this equipment and to improve our supplies and our inventories. And from this slide, you can see, we have made great headway. Over 175 million procedure masks now are in our inventory. And finally, we received 3.3 million N95 masks just over the weekend. And so we’re getting those N95 masks out. A lot of them went to LA County, others went to Imperial County.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (34:49)
We’re getting them into our system as quickly as those N95s. Those are the respirator masks, the procedure masks more than traditional surgical masks. But again, the reason I highlight those two, highlight all of the equipment inventory is how foundational it is in terms of our preparation and in terms of our approach to reopening the economy, getting these out into the school system, getting them out to our farm workers and others is foundational to allowing people to feel safe as we reopen the economy. And so that’s where we are in terms of some of that work. And I just cannot impress upon you more the importance of being vigilant. And I want to talk about that in just one second, but vigilance also requires that the State of California in partnership with the counties is maintaining our vigilance as it relates to this spread. Another one of the indicators that we laid out was on their ability to trace individuals that have come into contact or have actually been tested positive for COVID-19. We stated a few weeks back, a goal of 10,000 trained tracers for the State of California by July 1st, you’ll see from this slide an update, we have already trained or in the process of completing training for over 7,000 individuals. Well on our way of meeting our phase one goal.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (36:13)
Phase one goal is predicated on our capacity to provide testing or rather tracing of 3,600 new cases on any given day. So we feel we’re in that frame where this first phase in our training capacity in our original expectations are pretty much in line with where we thought we would need to be. I should make a point that we also have online, 25 different counties that have come onto our platform, our tracing and tracking platform. 32 are in the process of coming online. So you have counties all up and down the state using existing tracers, doing tracing on any given day, we’ve now increased our tracing capacity by training or in the process of almost completing the training for an additional 7,000, well on our way of hitting our goal of 10,000.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (37:06)
So tracing, again, foundational in our overall efforts. Why does all this matter? Well, I cannot say this enough, Dr. Galley has said it on so many occasions. We are not, begin or rather end as I began, out of the woods. There’s, I don’t know, perhaps some amnesia, some distraction, understandable frustration and angst, there’s cabin fever that has entered into the national discourse, nightly news, understandably focused on other things now beginning to refocus back on COVID-19. You’re seeing some spikes in other states as it relates to hospitalization rates and ICU rates that obviously lead to concern. All of these things are sobering. And we’re very mindful of that.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (37:55)
And I want folks to understand, we are very mindful of that. As we mix, as we reopen, inevitably, we’re going to see an increase in the total number of cases. It’s our capacity to address that, that is so foundational, and to make sure we’re prepared for spikes. The reason we put this slide up is in 1918, you saw in the flu pandemic that the first wave was relatively modest. That’s the wave we are still working through. It was the second wave where things peaked because people said, “We’ve got this.” People said, “We can go back and we don’t need to wear masks.” You can read about all of this. One should read about all of this. If history doesn’t repeat itself, as Twain said, it certainly rhymes.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (38:44)
So let us be cognizant of that past and let us be mindful of our present. We don’t want to experience the second wave as they experienced in 1918 in the fall and even in the early part of spring, 1919, that third wave without the kind of preparation that is required of this moment. And that preparation includes not just the State of California working in partnership with the federal government and the private sector to have the hospitalization, to have the PPE, to have all of this inventory. But it’s also incumbent upon us as individuals to be smart, to wear a face covering, to physically distance, to continue to wash your hand and to do the kinds of things that are necessary for us to avoid that second wave.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (39:36)
I’ve long said this, you’ve heard me say it on nauseum occasions. I’ll say it again. The future is not just something you experience, it’s not just in front of you, it’s inside of you. It’s our decisions that determine our fate and future. We have agency, we can manifest the future we want as long as we’re smart. And what being smart includes is when you’re outside, when you’re with mixed group of people, not the cohort within your family. And you start to bring other folks over and cousins and folks you haven’t seen in a while, be smart about it physically being distance. Wear a face covering. Again, total number of positives are up not down.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (40:16)
You may say, “Well, that’s not going to impact me,” but you don’t know that. And it may not only impact you, you may be asymptomatic, but it may impact someone that gets the disease because you didn’t know you had it and you were not physically distanced. You were not wearing a face covering when you were picking up that coffee and you were in a very constrained environment. It’s one thing to be outside. It’s another to be inside for an extended period of time without the air circulating, without the ability to move around and move away from people until this pandemic is behind us.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (40:55)
So be smart, wear that face covering as appropriate and physically distance to the extent you can and continue the hygiene that is so foundational for us, ultimately to meet this moment and to save lives. I encourage you always to go to the website, covid19.ca.gov, covid19.ca.gov for a myriad of information. Not only in terms of reflecting on the slides that we’ve just provided and being able to access information about how the state’s doing, but also to be able to toggle in on your county and see how your county specifically is doing in terms of the commitments they made, the health director and others made in terms of their attestations of their containment plans and their prevention plans.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (41:40)
Those plans are updated on a daily basis. And we also update on a daily basis, a number of other program opportunities and commitments that we’ve made so you can track the progress on those commitments, including by the way, your ability to type in your zip code and determine for yourself where your closest site for free testing is. You should go to covid19.ca.gov, go to the testing prompt, and then type in that information if you feel you need to be tested, you feel that it’s appropriate. Particularly those that may have been out there protesting, that may have been in contact with a lot of strangers, we encourage in a thoughtful way the extent you’re in that category to access some of these sites and to learn more about what you need to do, if indeed you are tested positive for COVID-19.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (42:39)
Just in one final point of personal privilege, I just want to thank our team, Abby, others that just on a never seen job on something that was lost in all of these press conferences and perhaps over the last 90 days of conversations, but was not lost on those that are the beneficiary. We talked about care for the caregivers, and I’m not walking away from my deep admiration respect, I know you’re not either, of our frontline employees, particularly our nurses that put their lives on the line early on in this pandemic. They did not have the PPE that we are going to make sure they have moving forward particularly if there is this second way of along the lines you just saw in the previous charts.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (43:25)
One of the areas we wanted to acknowledge, not only, well, wanted to address, we didn’t want to just acknowledge the caregivers in the abstract, we wanted to support them a little bit more. And so we created a program we announced with Facebook, they put up tens of millions of dollars to state, put up resources. And we said we were going to provide debit cards and providing $500 of cash to these frontline employees that put everything on the line, that couldn’t go home because they were scared about spreading the disease at home, that were going to a hotel just so they can shower and coming out of pocket for that, et cetera.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (44:03)
And so we have put out now 50,000 of these debit cards, all the rest go out later this week to 50,000 people with $500 attached. I just want to make that point that all the remaining cards are going out this week. And we just want to extend as always our deepest gratitude, deepest appreciation for those heroes that really met the moment in ways that we will never ever forget. And so thank you, the partnership that we were able to form with Facebook and with our respective agencies and the incredible work Abby and her team that just deserve credit for getting this program up and running and finally getting these debit cards out. It never happens as fast as you’d like it to happen, but we made the commitment and we finally met it and we’re pleased.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (44:56)
And so let us make in closing a commitment to one another to recognize that this pandemic has not gone away, to recognize that you’re seeing an increase in numbers all across this country, some areas you’re seeing spikes, some areas you’re not, let us be sober by that reality, let us be cognizant of the fact as we reopen our economy. And this state is reopening its economy, that the prospect of seeing an increase in the total number of positives, an increase in hospitalization is very real, but also let us be mindful of our personal responsibility at this moment. Not to forget that we have gone through an enormous amount together in the last 100 plus days.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (45:37)
And I say this all the time to my team in so many different respects, let’s not run the 90 yard dash. Let’s get through this, let’s get out the other side, let’s get out stronger, more resilient than ever. We will, but let’s do it by mitigating the spread and by doing justice to history, by not allowing it to rhyme and never forgetting it. And also by doing justice to support one another, our loved ones, our families, the community, our state, our nation, and more importantly, the world collectively we’re trying to build. With that, happy to take any questions.
Speaker 1: (46:10)
Phil Willon, LA Times
Phil Willon: (46:13)
Hi governor, the state set the requirements that allows the county to reopen. Obviously, if the requirements were more stringent or had started later, fewer people would have contracted the virus and fewer people would have died. Given that, did you put the state to economic recovery ahead of the public health benefit?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (46:33)
Often, Phil, we talk about social determinants of health. When you have poverty rates, unemployment rates, when you have now over 5.5 million people on unemployment just since March 12th, March 15th, when you have people that don’t have access to basic preventative healthcare, when you have people that are struggling and suffering with severe mental health and brain health issues, when people are not attending to their physical and emotional needs, those social determinants of health also must be considered. This is not an economic question. It’s a health question broadly defined. This state is very proud of itself of leading the nation in terms of moving forward as the first state, the state of homeowner.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (47:21)
We think, and I’ll leave that to more objective minds. We believe, but more objective minds, I think concur that that saved lives. There’s a certain point where you have to recognize you can’t be in a permanent state where people are locked away for months and months, and months, and months on end to see lives and livelihoods completely destroyed without considering the health impact of those decisions as well. So I appreciate the frame, but I think that frame, you need to add a third leg of consideration and look at the issues of poverty. Look at the issues of lack of healthcare and health access, mental health, and mental health care and access all as part and parcel of decision making.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (48:07)
And moreover in closing make this point that you have health officers that have the right and responsibility to make those decisions for themselves working with local elected officials and you know well there are a number of counties that haven’t chosen to move forward. Unlike other states, we as a state are not mandating that they do. This is an important distinction, many states mandate regardless of local decisions and conditions that those states need to move forward. The State of California does not. I have great reverence, I have great respect for local health officers, local elected officials that are entrusted to represent, truly represent the needs of counties, their cities, and their regions to do the right thing.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (48:55)
But again, it’s trust and verify. And the purpose of today’s slides and today’s presentations were to put up a light 13 counties that we are monitoring, supporting with technical assistance to do what we can to mitigate the spread as we begin to meaningfully reopen our economy as a nation, not just as a state.
Speaker 1: (49:15)
Guy Marzorati, KQED.
Guy Marzorati: (49:20)
Thanks governor, a question on the budget. How close are you to a deal with legislative leaders and given the lack of progress that we’ve seen on the Heroes Act in the US Senate, are you more open at this point to closing some of those holes through borrowing, deferring spending, even modifying some of the revenue in that deficit projection?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (49:42)
Well, I think on the latter part, we’ve done a lot of that, all of the above as it relates to the proposal that I put out in the May revise. We’re making a real progress, and I’m very pleased at the conversations we’ve been having both at personal level and staff level over the course of the last number of weeks, days, hours. In fact, we are in the throes of those. So I’m not going to say anything publicly that puts any of those conversations at risk, except to say deep respect, deep admiration for the task at hand. Deep realization of the pressures that the legislature is under and all of us are under to meet the needs at a time when people demand more not less of their government.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (50:23)
And so this is a challenging and trying time. And that’s why I appreciate you also reflecting on the fact that we have incredible leadership, particularly of Nancy Pelosi, who moved that Heroes Act, recognizing those heroes, those frontline employees, nurses, and doctors, and others will be impacted by budget cuts, not just at the state level, but the local and county levels disproportionately potentially as it relates to the need to balance budgets. Remember we’re constitutionally obliged to balance our budgets, no printing presses in states large and small across this country. And so she set the mark, she put her marker down of three trillion dollars, and I am encouraged at least on this front and while we-
Governor Gavin Newsom: (51:03)
I am encouraged, at least, on this front. And while we haven’t seen commensurate progress and acknowledgement by the U.S. Senate, we are seeing increasing recognition by some members of the administration and some Republican legislative leaders that recognize we’re going to have to do more, it’s a question of when, timing. They’re suggesting they’ll do it after the Fourth of July break. We cannot encourage them more to move expeditiously, and I remain confident that something will happen at the federal level to help mitigate the impact of cuts at the state level.
Speaker 2: (51:40)
Dave Lopez, CBS L.A.
Dave Lopez: (51:45)
Yes, Governor, good afternoon. I know you’re confident with the numbers, but human nature is human nature, everybody’s not going to be as careful as you’d like. That being the cause, is there a timeframe when you feel that maybe about people are going to follow the guidelines and you’ll be able to breathe a little easier and maybe look towards getting deeper into the recovery mode?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (52:05)
Well, at the end of the day, 40 million souls, again, the state of California represents the population of 21 states combined, and so it is a big challenge to move 40 million souls in the right direction. We’re able to do that going in and we save lives and I’m very proud of this state, I’m proud of its leadership across the political spectrum and all across the state in terms of regions large and small, coastal and rural regions.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (52:34)
There’s been a spirit of collaboration and cooperation, I know you others have highlighted some areas where there’s been a little friction, but that’s the dialectic, that is understandable with 58 countries, 470-plus cities and one state. And we’ve tried to accommodate and be accommodating, and not everybody is always on the same page or at the same pace. We also recognize that we need to pace differently, and we’ve entrusted, we’ve put lot of power in the hands of local health officials, we’ve entrusted them, and we’ve also provided support for them as well.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (53:08)
To the extent we can continue to be vigilant, we can also just been mindful of the fact that we’re not out of this yet by any stretch, we’re just a few months into this. Not even six months into this, just a few months into this, that we can get out the other side stronger and more resilient. I don’t know when that date will occur, can’t happen soon enough. When we see immunity, when we see the benefits of all of these efforts on vaccines, I’ve got a therapeutic task force, we’ve highlighted it in the past, we’re seeing progress on the therapeutic side as well, not just remdesivir and others, California-based company, but also a lot of other things happening in that space.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (53:48)
That, potentially, can be mitigating as well. But we continue to be focused on the skilled nursing facilities, on our congregate facilities disproportionately placing our focus and emphasis. We remain very, very sober about the prospects of increased number of positives, and sober about our need to continue to be vigilant in terms of our preparation. So we’ll be stubborn on our preparation, we’ll be stubborn about monitoring the 13 countries we’re currently monitoring closely. Monitoring all counties, but technically supporting 13 counties.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (54:26)
As we see these indicators turn green, you see more of those check marks and less percentages as you saw from Dr. Ghaly’s chart, then I’ll be able to more clearly answer that question.
Speaker 2: (54:41)
Lyanne Melendez, ABC 7.
Lyanne Melendez: (54:44)
Yes, Governor, at 2:00 this afternoon there will be a rally in Fremont at the Tesla plant to address protection of workers from COVID-19, they’re asking that Cal-OSHA inspectors be sent to see the conditions there of the factory. Is this something you will support in the future, sending more inspectors once more and more factories open in California, to reduce the risk of COVID spreading?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (55:11)
We have the responsibility to do that, that’s OSHA’s job foundationally, was pre-pandemic, certainly is as we work our way through this pandemic. And to the extent we have the right leadership, I couldn’t be more pleased with the work that our Department of Labor and Julie Su, whose purpose and passion in life has been about protecting workers. She, who runs that agency, came from a community that was ravaged by abuse, it’s particularly the garment district in Southern California, L.A. in particular, and she was an advocate, calling out the cause for reforms and holding businesses accountable to protecting their workers.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (55:55)
That’s why she is chair of the Department of Labor, it’s that mindset, it’s those values that she brings to this job. She is entrusted to oversee the work done at OSHA, and more broadly, that work is as important now as ever, particularly as we battle this pandemic and try to mitigate the spread.
Speaker 2: (56:15)
Angela Hart, Kaiser Health News.
Angela Hart: (56:19)
Hi, Governor, thanks for taking the question. I think no one is suggesting that the state lift these orders or the state is keeping these orders in place forever, but what we are hearing from counties is that the state is allowing the opening too quickly, without providing adequate supports for testing and contact tracing. We’ve got a lot of questions on that, we’ve been denied an interview request from Dr. Charity Dean.
Angela Hart: (56:48)
So I guess I wanted to ask your response to that, what is your response to counties that say the state is allowing reopening, yet there isn’t adequate support to ensure testing and contact tracing?
Governor Gavin Newsom: (57:00)
Well, if a county doesn’t want to reopen, they don’t have to reopen. Let me be crystal-clear; I’ll say that again. If a county health director chooses not to reopen, working at the local level, they can make that determination, and as you know well, that is the case in many counties in the state of California. They’ve opened at their own pace. So while it’s absolutely true parts of California have determined, based upon the lack of spread, lack of total number of positives, their availability of resources to address the spread in the future, that they can move at their own pace, it is also true that others have expressed that concern. And that’s why we have chosen a different path than many other states.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (57:42)
Remember, there are a number of states whose governors have said, we don’t care about what local health officials say in terms of their timing on reopening, we’re going to force them to reopen at a different time and different pace. The state of California, we don’t do that. We provide local health officials the opportunity, in partnership with their county elected officials, to make that determination of when. Again, guidelines don’t mean go. We do not prescribe when, we prescribe how. We believe people should be very cautious as they move in, and we require attestations.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (58:19)
What’s an attestation? It’s a requirement that they make public the available resources. Not everybody can get an attestation, this goes to your question foundationally. For example, if Imperial County today asked for attestation, they would not meet the requirements of the state, because we do require that certain conditions be persistent within those counties in order to move forward. If those counties attest but conditions change, which is certainly the case in many counties and will be moving forward, we want to prepare to support those counties even more robustly.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (59:02)
The purpose of the slideshow just a moment ago was to give you a sense of what that preparation looks like. We have 1,509 alternative care sites in 10 counties, that’s a specific example of alternative care facilities that didn’t exist pre-pandemic that now are available for use of those counties if conditions change. You may have noted that we have seen a substantial increase of protective equipment, particularly procedure masks, surgical masks and now these N95 masks, millions that we are distributing in real time to help support those counties as they move apace, make the determination for themselves of when they want to move forward with meaningful modifications to their stay-at-home orders.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (59:50)
Accordingly, we work with the hospital system to provide, identify, at least, the availability of some 52,000 hospital beds. Testing, as you know, we are well ahead of the current pace of where we expected to be in testing. We’re not where we want to go, I’ve made it clear the goal was 60,000, I want to potentially get up to 80,000, but 60 is the base goal. We’ve been battling that, we did over 78,000 on Saturday, a little over 66,000, we did a little better last few days. But there’s some days we drop 52, 55,000 tests. That’s certainly true, we could do more on the testing.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:00:27)
You saw the slide specific to your inquiry as it relates to contact tracing. I think the work that we’ve done to identify the need for 10,000 tracers is appropriate for phase one. We made the point it’s phase one by the end of this month. You see we’re on pace, 7,098 individuals that have been trained or about to complete training; this in addition, of course, to the work that’s been done already at the county level. Some counties with very enriched … I came as a former mayor of one county, San Francisco, that had already developed a very culturally competent, enriched contact tracing system for HIV and AIDS, for measles and TB and the like. They didn’t need to be told what to do, they are very familiar with tracing programs and procedures.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:01:19)
But we are augmenting that through partnership with UCSF and UCLA, updating training protocol, standardizing them across the state of California. We have a new platform that we’ve developed in partnership with three companies to provide that platform of sharing, to engage in even more robust tracing. So in tracing, in testing, in PPE, in surge facilities, alternative care sites, in addition to those hospital sites, focusing on homeless populations, focusing with more acuity on skilled nursing facilities and other residential care facilities for seniors and adults.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:01:56)
I think we’re making progress, and so I believe in localism, I believe they determine for themselves the appropriate pace, we look and monitor that data on a daily basis, I gave it to you in the aggregate. You can’t claim the positivity rate’s dropping from 40.8% to 4.5% is a spike in any other direction except down. That said, 4.5 % is still a little higher than we ultimately want to see. We want to see those numbers go down, and they fluctuate. I may be back next week and those numbers may be modestly up. If they are, we’ll make adjustments in real time.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:02:32)
Forgive me for being so long-winded in this answer, I’m just using this as an opportunity to basically sum up the purpose of what I wanted to communicate to everybody today, that we are sober, we’re cognizant, we are mindful as we reopen the economy, that there’ll be mixing. And in that mixing, we are cognizant and mindful, and we understand the magnitude of the need to further prepare and double down on some of the efforts that have gone underway already.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:03:06)
So we move in, eyes wide open, cognizant of challenges of the budget, unemployment, race relations in the state and our nation, abundantly aware that we’re moving into fire season, challenged always by the quixotic nature of political process, where we zig to zag, tweet to tweet, moment by moment, hearing by hearing. But focused, nonetheless, mindful of your future, your fate, and our families’ safety and security. That’s what I wanted to share with you today. I want to thank everybody for the opportunity and privilege of your time, and just know we look forward to updating you on a consistent basis, and we have not moved away from our laser-like focus to do what we can to mitigate spread and reduce transmission of this deadly disease, COVID-19.
Governor Gavin Newsom: (01:03:57)
Be smart, stay healthy, and please, please physically distance. And wear face coverings as appropriate when you come into contact with people that you don’t traditionally come into contact. We do that, we’ll get through this other side and we’ll do so in ways that will, I think, make us all proud of this moment. Take care, everybody.