Jun 29, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom June 29 Press Conference Transcript
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Gavin Newsom: (02:02)
Good afternoon, everybody. Thank you for the privilege of your time, the opportunity to update you on our response to COVID-19, where we are as a state and where we are going. I thought I’d first begin by trying to contextualize a little bit about the last number of months. As you may recall, California was the first state in the nation to formally engage with the CDC, the Trump administration and others in relationship to this pandemic. We engaged formally by allowing the repatriation of flights from overseas, primarily from mainland China to come into the state of California. These were conversations that occurred in late January and early part of February. Those relationships were formalized through a series of agreements that allowed for that repatriation.
Gavin Newsom: (02:58)
COVID-19, this pandemic, the coronavirus, as it was referred to at the time, was on our radar screen for many, many weeks before, in fact, it became a framework of reference for the nation. We had the opportunity as well to develop further relationships, not only with the Federal government and partnership with the CDC, but also HHS and other Federal agencies, particularly FEMA when it came time to repatriate that cruise ship. You may recall a number of months back, we had a cruise ship off the coast of California, thousands of passengers and crew that we ultimately became responsible for in terms of bringing them back onshore and then bringing them back all across the rest of the country. And for those many, not only passengers, but primarily staff getting them back home overseas. Those relationships furthered our resolve, our recognition of the imperative to meet this virus head-on. Also began the process of protocols and procedures for addressing the need to hospitalize individuals, to test individuals, to provide alternative care sites outside of the hospital system for individuals and began process of rationalizing our approach.
Gavin Newsom: (04:22)
We formally moved forward as we started to see the spread in Washington state and skilled nursing facilities, and we saw and experienced our first community spread here in the state of California outside those repatriation missions. We move forward as the first state in the country with a stay-at-home order on March 19th. And that began a process of really developing strategies and partnerships with local health officials, county elected officials, all up and down the state of California. Remember California is 58 counties, over 470, almost 480 cities. And when we talk about our state, we talk about scale and size and scope that is equivalent to 21 states’ populations combined. So it’s trying to reconcile our challenge, but also trying to reconcile the differentiation in regions, large and small, all across the state became big frame of focus and engagement at the local level.
Gavin Newsom: (05:29)
As a consequence of that, we started to socialize the term localism is determinative. Meaning local conditions are such that local electeds, local health directors have a unique understanding of the criteria of concern, also the criteria to which [inaudible 00:05:57] of transmission in certain parts of the state. Certain parts of the state just didn’t experience any real transmission. We saw deaths increasing in certain parts of the state. We did not see that in other parts of the state. Many counties, many regions sorted themselves, understandably making that point, that they’re different from other parts of the state. And we began the process of what we refer to as attestations. These were locally directed attestations, attesting to certain criteria, certain responsibilities, certain procedures and plans that would be put into place through a technical engagement with the state of California that would allow certain parts of the state open a little bit more quickly than other parts of the state, if in partnership with the state of California, they attested to being prepared and being accountable and responsible for the transmission of this disease.
Gavin Newsom: (06:58)
You recall, at the time we talked about making sure that part of that attestation includes making sure you have adequate testing, making sure you have adequate capacity to begin the process of contact tracing, making sure you have appropriate levels of PPE, personal protective equipment, and not just face masks, but gowns and gloves and the like. We also had a responsibility within the hospital system to make sure that they could address possible need for a surge. And that included not just hospital space, but also prospects that they have enough ventilators and ICU capacity as well. We also had a framework of focus on homelessness, on issues related to seniors in our skilled nursing facilities and our residential care facilities, as well as people in congregate facilities, locked facilities, county jails, adult correction facilities and the like. Burke County was the first county to move forward with an attestation. And we started our phased approach to reopen the economy here in the state of California.
Gavin Newsom: (08:07)
We talked in terms of four phases. We have been clear through the attestation process that we will allow counties to move forward on their own time through three phases, not the fourth phase. And I’ll remind you that fourth phase is large scale festivals, outdoor facilities and concerts rather, facilities like convention facilities and the like, large events, large, for example, sporting events. That’s all in that fourth phase. And no part of the state of California is allowed, even through that attestation process, to move into that fourth phase. But people are pacing in and through phase two and phase three. We had at last count, last week, we had over 52 and then we went to 54 counties that have gone through this attestation. We highlighted one county that was interested in moving forward to the attestation phase, Imperial County, but was simply unable to attest that the conditions were such that they can mitigate the spread of the virus and also protect their citizens if indeed there was a surge.
Gavin Newsom: (09:23)
On Friday, I highlighted Imperial County as an example of a county that not only did not move forward with an additional attestation, but needed, we believe and continue to believe, needed to move back, that despite the fact that they were not able to attest to go in deeper into this phase three, they were able to open some parts of their economy, but even so, the spread of the virus in Imperial County was such that we, as a state, were working with that county to decompress their hospital system. Over a five week period, just a five week period, we had to move 500 patients out of their hospital system into surrounding county systems, putting a lot of stress and strain on the surrounding systems, but also only reinforcing rather the imperative to address the conditions in Imperial County and address why the spread was continuing at such an extraordinary pace.
Gavin Newsom: (10:27)
And when I mean extraordinary pace, we had positivity rates, remember positivity rates, number of people tested, percentage of people tested that test positive, positivity rate. We have positivity rates in Imperial County as high as 23% and that raised red flags. And over the course of many, many weeks, we’ve been supporting our technical assistance teams have been sent down there. Federal, state, regional teams, including just this weekend where we sent down three of our cabinet secretaries to meet with representatives and to only reinforce our support to address the conditions in the county. We encouraged the county on Friday to begin to phase back, to use what we referred to over the course of last few months as the dimmer switch. We talk about these attestations, but they also have a dimmer component as well. What you attest to is also your capacity to toggle back, to dim the reopening, to move back into a place where we can mitigate the spread.
Gavin Newsom: (11:37)
And that’s exactly what we are requesting of Imperial County. Their formal county board of supervisors will be meeting today and tomorrow and making that determination. If they are unsuccessful in building consensus around going back into a stay-at-home order frame, the state of California will assert itself and make sure that that happens accordingly. I highlight Imperial as we did on Friday, just to underscore the unique characteristics and conditions that persist and exist throughout the state of California. But there are also many other parts of the state that we are monitoring. In a moment, I’ll get to some slides and show you more specifically the number of counties that we are currently monitoring and what that monitoring looks like. Dr. Ghaly will come up and talk a little bit more specifically about what the criteria and conditions are to end up on this monitoring list, this watch list. And then work we will do as a state to begin again, to use that dimmer switch, as we are suggesting and ultimately require in Imperial County. By the way, that’s exactly what we did over the weekend.
Gavin Newsom: (12:50)
On Sunday, recognizing the transmission has increased in areas of the state, not just in Imperial County, we moved forward to require six additional counties to, for example, toggle back and use that dimmer switch by closing down bars in order to slow the spread of the virus. We also recommended yesterday, Sunday, that eight other counties consider doing the same. We, as I said, working very closely in collaborative with Imperial County because we believe they need to move back into that stay-at-home posture. The bottom line is we’re doing this because we have seen an increase in the spread of this virus. We’ve been very clear, and this shouldn’t surprise anybody watching, as you reopen the economy, as we move away and make the meaningful modifications which we did to our stay-at-home order, you’re going to see people mixing that otherwise we’re not mixing in the past. Many people were not necessarily being as responsible as they otherwise… Well, as we would like them to be, as it relates to practicing physical distancing, social distancing, people that weren’t wearing their face masks.
Gavin Newsom: (14:04)
It’s why a week plus ago we required mandatory face coverings, face masks in the state of California to help mitigate the spread. We need to take further steps. And that’s exactly what we did this weekend on Sunday by closing down some of the areas of concern. When we talked to health officials up and down the state, one of the areas of concerns was bars in particular. Other areas I can get into like family gatherings, which is something we all should be very, very cognizant of, particularly as we move in to 4th of July weekend. We’ll talk more about that over the course of the next few days and our concern from the health perspective of people mixing, extended family and other people coming together and congregating that otherwise they’re letting their guard down a little bit and mixing that is also one of the reasons we’re seeing an increase in the total number of positive cases in the state.
Gavin Newsom: (14:58)
But we start with bars in these counties and we have eight counties as I said on top of those that we have mandated the closure that we recommend the closure. Let me tell you the criteria we put forth for the bars. That’s 14 days where we have seen these counties on the watch list and that becomes the criteria. Once over a two week period and you’re still on that watch list and we’re still seeing an increase in spread and transmission, that then triggers the kind of decision that we made yesterday. The eight counties that we’re recommending, those are on a watch list, but just three to 14 days, none exceed the 14 days on the watch list, but none are less than three days. And we’re encouraging working in partnership with the health officials in those counties to consider a similar guidance and to the extent that they choose. Otherwise after a 14 day period, we’ll assess that and we will make the determination, our health team, as to whether or not we will ultimately make that decision for them.
Gavin Newsom: (16:07)
So that’s the recent weekend actions, that Friday announcement, if you didn’t have a chance to tune in on that around Imperial County and the supports we’re providing that county. And obviously now the actions we’ve taken as it relates to the bars. But let me now show you why that’s the case.
Gavin Newsom: (16:27)
Here’s the case numbers from Friday. 5,932 new cases on Friday. Saturday, 4,810. And of course you see the Sunday numbers. This is the latest reporting period, 5,307 cases. That represents over a seven day period, if I went back and provided you another slide, just to give you a sense, a seven day snapshot, in the last seven days, we’ve seen a 45% increase in the total number of cases that have tested positive in the state of California. There are a couple reasons why that’s the case. And this slide is an important slide to underscore that. Again, forgive me, I’ve repeated this many times, showed this slide on many occasions, but it’s an important slide. The first 14 day cohort of positivity rate in the state of California that we recorded showed 40.8% of people that were tested, tested positive. The last 14 day period, we are now at 5.5% positivity rate. But you see on this graph, those of you that are watching, not just listening, on this graph is significant increase in the blue lines here. The blue lines represent the total number of tests in the state of California from less than just a few thousand in April to a record number yesterday, just shy of 106,000 tests were conducted yesterday. So again, we expect when you test over a hundred thousand people in just a 24 hour period, you’re likely going to see more people test positive, but not only…
Gavin Newsom: (18:03)
You’re likely going to see more people test positive. But not only are we seeing that, which is represented in that 45% increase over the last week in total number of positive cases, but the positivity rate is particularly concerning, and this is why we are monitoring it very, very closely. And let me give you another slide here to see more specifically the concern. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were at 4.4% positivity, and you recall the reason we started to reopen our economy is we saw the positivity rate remain very, very stable. Number of hospitalizations in ICUs for many, many weeks, arguably a few months was incredibly stable. And just in the last few weeks, you’re starting to see, when you take a closer look at the positivity rate, an increase that raised the concerns that led to the decisions we made on Friday in Imperial County, led to the decisions we made over the weekend as it relates to shutting down bars in many counties in this state.
Gavin Newsom: (19:07)
5.5% is of concern, it’s not where some other states that are generating headlines are, they’re substantially higher, but we don’t like the trend line, and that’s why, again, this mandatory mask requirement is in effect, and that’s why, unfortunately we’re using this dimmer switch to start to pull back on the stay-at-home order. By the way that 5.5% masks, forgive me, but it doesn’t mask the 7 day trend, which is at 5.9%. So 5.5% you see here in this chart is the 14 day, just the last 7 days we’re up to 5.9% positivity. As it relates to hospitalizations, not surprisingly, accordingly you’re seeing hospitalizations increasing in the state just over the last two weeks. The hospitalizations have increased by roughly 43%. 43% in the last two weeks. You’ll see though, here, in terms of our total capacity as a system, our capacity absorbed this, and I just want again, to take a moment.
Gavin Newsom: (20:17)
All of these months when we did the stay-at-home order we didn’t sit on our hands, we worked aggressively not only to engage with our county health officials as I noted in the top of my remarks, but also to engage them with purpose and intention. And that is to really assess what our needs are in this state to work our way through the first wave of this pandemic, and remember we’re in the first wave, and then to prepare for a second wave which many experts believe will come later into the fall. That included making sure we had a healthcare delivery system that included alternative care sites, included hospital beds and plans, protocols and procedures to significantly increase our capacity within and around the system, not only in terms of physical capacity, but also human capacity. We had this team referred to as the Health Corps, we identified personnel and appropriate protective gear and worked to really build out a robust framework for our planning purposes.
Gavin Newsom: (21:24)
In this slide, you’ll see reflected our current capacity as it relates to hospital beds in the state, just shy of 75,000 hospital beds in the state of California, 73,867 to be precise. And by the way, that number changes on any given day for a myriad of different reasons. We currently have, you saw from the previous slide, represented 4,776 individuals that are COVID-19 positive cases. So that represents about 7% of the total hospital system capacity. Also referenced on this slide is the total number admitted patients just cross the spectrum of patients that are in the hospital system, which is currently about 58% of total capacity. So you get a sense here, 30,000+ or so bed capacity that we have in this state, just within the hospital system alone.
Gavin Newsom: (22:23)
In addition to this, we have the protocols, plannings and the processes that we are able to turn on these alternative, we call FMS sites, these federal medical station sites, and these other alternative care sites, which we have talked about over the course of the last many months that we have procured and identified all up and down the state Seton hospital in Daly city, as one example. The ARCO arena, sleep train arena, up here in Sacramento, all of these are examples of those alternative care sites that have now capacity, and we could turn them on in pretty short order. ICU emissions, again, we focus on positivity rate, we focus on hospitalizations, we also focus on ICU admissions. You can see, not surprisingly, hospitalizations went up 43%, ICU’s tracking with about 37% increase over the course of the last few weeks, you’ll see on this slide. That represents about 13% of the entire ICU capacity in the state of California. Though, currently a lot of ICU beds are being utilized for non COVID-19 patients.
Gavin Newsom: (23:34)
If you just look at the total number of beds available today as a snapshot, we are utilizing about 39% of that capacity of available beds are represented rather in the total number of COVID-19 patient cohort. If I confused you, let me step back and say that again. Total number of ICU positive patients versus the total number of ICU beds in the state is 13% are now COVID positive of our ICU capacities, but of the available ICU beds, roughly 39% have been absorbed because of COVID-19 positive patients. So, gives you a sense of the capacity we have in our system that will allow us to work our way through and manage the increase in the transmission of this virus, including by the way, the ventilators that are available today, over 11,000, 11,577 ventilators that are available today for use as part of our critical care capacity.
Gavin Newsom: (24:41)
So numbers are going up, but our ability to manage and absorb also is significant. And so I just want to, for the purposes of full disclosure, tell you the challenges, but also tell you what we have done to meet those challenges head on in addition to try to mitigate the spread so that you see less blue on this pie chart and more orange moving forward. As it relates again to the approach, I’ll repeat, it is a dimmer switch. Diverse cities, diverse counties, different parts of the state experiencing different challenges for different reasons. Let me… Well, in a moment, Dr. Ghaly will come up and explain rather than me, what those different reasons are. You may see increases in certain counties, may be primarily because of spread that exists for example, in a state prison, other parts of the state in a federal prison, and that increases the total number of cases in a county. Others have more generic community spread, it’s just people mixing and not, in every case, wearing face coverings and not practicing the social distancing. Each county, different conditions.
Gavin Newsom: (25:56)
So when you look at the numbers you have to get in under the hood on why those numbers are increasing. And again, that’s the approach. There’s a more sophisticated approach than we have time to express or explain here today, but approach is a dimmer switch and that approach is different in each county. Final words from me until I asked Dr. Ghaly to come back up, as I’ve said on multiple occasions, we monitor daily county by county, the conditions on this dashboard. And we’re making that dashboard public, we announced last week some of the efforts to truly be as transparent as we possibly can be in terms of our modeling approaches and in terms of providing you real time look at where your county, where your community may be. So we’re actively monitoring all 58 counties in the state of California, but we’re now targeting our monitoring in 19 counties.
Gavin Newsom: (26:50)
By the way, when we entered into the weekend, on Sunday we had 15 counties we were monitoring, we added 4 more counties today. We added Solano County, we added Merced County, we added Orange County and we added Glen County to the targeted engagement list. So now we’re 19 counties, and Dr. Ghaly will attest. Now that represents about 72% of the population in the state of California, 72%, the population represented in 19 counties that have targeted engagement with our state health officials. And as you see from the slide reference here, again, 7 of those counties, we are now adopting this dimmer in terms of their reopening. But with that, let me now bring up Dr. Ghaly to explain this slide in terms of what local conditions mean and how they drive our response, and I’ll come back up, finish up and of course answer any questions, Dr. Ghaly.
Dr. Ghaly: (27:57)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon, I wanted to remind you a bit about how we are looking at our support and work with various counties around ensuring that their epidemiology, that is really just to say the data that we’re watching closely around cases and availability of things like hospitalizations and limited hospital capacity in order to ensure that counties have the level of support they need to manage spread, and then to think about, as the governor discussed, the ability to further dim or go back with certain sectors. So just to remind you, we’re watching closely elevated disease transmission. So what does that mean? That we want no more than 25 cases per 100,000 people in a county reported as a case over a 14 day period. We’re also looking at a test positivity rate less than 8% over the 14 day period. So as the governor’s discussing the overall climb across the state from the mid 4% to the mid 5% over 14 days of test positivity, we’re looking at that county by county as well.
Dr. Ghaly: (29:16)
We also want to know that we have increasing hospitalization or have enough space in our hospitals, so watching very closely each county’s census, that is the number of people with COVID positive diagnosis in hospital beds. So ensuring that, that 3 day overall average of the number of COVID positive hospitalized patient is no more than 10%. Signifying when it crosses that 10% threshold, that day-over-day, many, many more COVID positive patients are needing hospitalizations. And then connected that is ultimately our ability to care for people in the hospitals. When we see less than 20% of ICU beds are available in a county or that less than 25% of the total ventilators a county has are available, we get concerned. And that’s what helps us look at counties and basically places them on the county monitoring lists so we can begin that targeted engagement.
Dr. Ghaly: (30:19)
As the governor said in California, a state this size with this many people, we’re really experiencing COVID-19 in quite different ways across the state. Sort of looking at three different counties, starting in the North with Sacramento County where we are here with our close work with Sacramento County leaders, we’ve identified, they have identified, that family gatherings, getting together with family members, maybe outside, probably inside, not following some of the guidance around face coverings, staying socially distance, likely led to outbreaks within families that led to the rise in cases and then the rise in hospitalizations that we’re seeing in Sacramento County, and over 40% rise in hospitalizations over three days in Sacramento County alone.
Dr. Ghaly: (31:11)
Moving further South to San Bernardino County, a different story. This one due to local jail outbreaks, SNF, Skilled Nursing Facility outbreaks, as well as community spread. This sort of hybrid scenario in San Bernardino has had that county experience quite a significant rise in cases. And then looking at Imperial County again, we sent an entire team of senior leaders down again this weekend to augment that ongoing work that the governor highlighted last Friday of the engagement with Imperial County. And really looking closely, not just at the Mexican border, the border with Mexico, but also the border with Arizona, understanding how factories and farms play into disease transmission, and then how that spills over into community transmission similar to what we see in Sacramento County, within households and at family gatherings. So again, emphasizing that each county, each part of the state needs a different solution to getting control of COVID-19 spread. And our team at the state working closely with officials at the county level, are crafting those solutions and determining what can be done in advance to recommending and even requiring moving back.
Dr. Ghaly: (32:32)
To continue on that theme, we look at this in three progressive areas in terms of enforcement and effective community action. We’re looking to help support counties in stabilizing their data as the first category. This is emphasizing education and public awareness, ensuring that our messaging is reaching those populations that are experiencing the highest rates, those most vulnerable, and then looking to pause any further new sector opening. Once a county moves to the next level of concern, we start doing things like you saw over the weekend, right? Closing a specific sector, looking at what sort of additional technical assistance and support we can provide a county, looking at those sectors that close, understanding what they might do differently when they reopen again.
Dr. Ghaly: (33:25)
And then establishing strike teams at the state, not only in health and human services through the department of public health, but inviting a wide array of agencies and departments to support those counties and improving those conditions so we can avoid moving into what we think is the alarming rate of spread, where we of course continue all of the things we were doing initially but then we look very closely with elected officials, health officers at considering requiring a return to stay-at-home order. And the only county so far, as a result of the really high rates of test positivity, the number of patients and people we were moving out of the local hospital system into the regional and statewide hospital system out of Imperial. We’re asking them to return to the stay-at-home order today. So with that, I’m going to turn it back over to the governor. Thank you.
Gavin Newsom: (34:24)
Thank you, Dr. Ghaly. So bottom line, and we’ve reinforced this on many, many occasions, there’s different transmission dynamics that persist and exist in every part of the state. What Dr. Ghaly was referring to as it relates to that differentiation is also a recognition that the critical need to mitigate this transmission also requires enforcement. And it is incumbent upon all of us to do what we can, to lead by example as individuals, by wearing face coverings and we can practice physical distancing, social distancing, but also as business leaders to protect not only your workers, but to protect your customers, we will be stepping up our enforcement in the state of California. There’s many mechanisms to which you can enforce. At a state level, there’s some tools. At the local level, they’re even more tools.
Gavin Newsom: (35:16)
Again, locally, that enforcement is driven by decisions, the county health officers, by the elected representatives. At the state level we made comments last week, and I’ll reinforce them here today, in relationship to the budget that I’ll be signing later this afternoon, that stipulates $2.5 Billion of COVID-19 related and realignment related dollars to the counties that will stipulate certification as it relates to capacity to enforce these health orders. It is incumbent upon all of us in the state of California to take seriously these rules and these regulations and to enforce them, and I want to just encourage our partners, and they have been incredible partners, up and down the state of-
Gavin Newsom: (36:03)
Our partners in there have been incredible partners up and down the State of California to do justice and to help us mitigate the spread and the transmission of COVID-19 by enforcing these rules and regulations, not punitively. Again, it’s not a ready fire aim approach. It’s a ready aim, fire, meaning we want to work with people, and be responsive and responsible to help support their needs, particularly small businesses. I deeply understand that, intimately understand that as a former small business person. Help educate on the rules and procedures, but moreover remind people, we put out over 30 sectorial guidelines in the State of California, that layout how to safely reopen. We’ve been so fixated, and I cannot impress upon, folks, this point more, we’ve been so fixated on the when not as responsibly focused on the how to safely reopen.
Gavin Newsom: (36:54)
30 plus sectorial guidelines we put out. We worked with industry to put out procedures and processes so we can safely, healthy, health and safety, a framework of focus to reopen the economy in a way that can mitigate the spread. If people are flaunting those rules and regulations or disregarding or throwing out those guidelines, we want to continue to work with our County officials and local officials to help us enforce that. So we put aside this two and a half billion dollars of State money in this budget to encourage and inspire a more enlightened health behavior, enforcement behavior to help them advantage the health and safety of the population in the State of California.
Gavin Newsom: (37:36)
And also we have regulatory and code capacity to enforce in OSHA and others in particular have unique history and unique capacity to enforce. Any small business person who has been on the receiving end of some of those notices know exactly what I mean. Again, I don’t want to do this in a punitive mindset, but we have to keep people safe because what we don’t want to see happen is a few bad apples that are flouting and exploiting the situation, and making the rest of the industry, making some of their competitors look bad. So we’ve got to, I think, do more, to be more responsible individually and within sectors of our economy. And so we’ve got the tools, the capacity to do more effective community enforcement, and again, we’re going to be doing just that.
Gavin Newsom: (38:31)
Let me just briefly just mention a few other things that are top of mind. Certainly we’re deep focused over the last many, many months, but primarily in the last few weeks, there’s been an increase in number of cases and in certain prisons in our prison system, in the State of California. You may recall a few months ago, I brought up some concerns around Lancaster Prison, Chino Prison, some other prisons in the State of California, where we saw an early outbreak of COVID-19. In many of those prisons, we were able to mitigate the spread, and we’ve seen diminution in terms of total number of inmates that are currently positive and total number of staff members as well.
Gavin Newsom: (39:11)
The entire CDCR system, California Correctional System has 2,589 individuals that have tested positive, inmates that have tested positive, just shy of 2,600. One prison in particular is of concerns generating appropriate level of interest as it should, and that’s San Quentin. In San Quentin, we currently have 1011 individual inmates that have tested positive. And by the way, those are numbers that came in this morning. People are being tested in real time, test results are coming back in real time. So that’s a dynamic number. So [inaudible 00:39:47] system, about 2,600 people. Remember you’ve got about 113,000 prisoners, 113,000 inmates rather, in our correctional system. We currently have about 2, 600 that have tested positive for COVID-19, but 11 or rather 1011 have tested positive just in San Quentin. And so that is our deep area of focus and concern right now.
Gavin Newsom: (40:15)
I, a number of months ago, did a number of things that got a little attention, perhaps you may not be so familiar with it, to “decompress” the system, meaning to provide space and provide more flexibility within our correctional facilities to allow people to more safely move about and to mitigate the spread of this virus from the intake center that we kept for a period of time to changing the way we were doing transfers between the prisons. Obvious concern about transferring someone that may be tested positive, and that’s exactly what looks like occurred at San Quentin. I’ll get to that in a moment. But we did that in addition to looking at people with sentences that were almost concluded. And we looked at those sentences within 180 or so days, and we said, “Look, you’re going to be released in 180 days. Those of you that have real plans, those of you that have a place to go, those of you that can connect with our system, probation parole system, and have actual plans in place, we’re going to move you forward a little bit sooner.” And we did that for a cohort, what we referred to as non, non, non, non sex offenders, meaning it’s a criteria to screen out those that are the highest risk if they are released. But again, these were sentences that were already being concluded.
Gavin Newsom: (41:48)
Roughly 3,500 people went out of that system in a very orderly way, along those lines, a number of months ago. We are working with many advocates in the courts and others. We have identified an additional cohort of over 3,500 additional prisoners working through a similar process, and accordingly, and not surprisingly looking at the medical conditions of many of our prisoners, those that are most medically vulnerable. And I said this a few days ago, when talking about San Quentin last week, that San Quentin has about 42% of its prison population that is deemed medically vulnerable. For many different reasons that’s the case. So it’s a heart, a large percentage of the total number of prisoners in San Quentin that are in this area of concern.
Gavin Newsom: (42:37)
That said we are working to work through the medical screening and move people as quickly as we can, but as safely and more importantly, responsibly as we can. Let me be specific about that. We have 110 individuals that we’ve identified for that protocol and early release within 180 days, non, non, non, non-sex offenders that we have screened. The challenge is only 40 of them have a place to go. And so the question is, do you make a bad situation worse by releasing someone that’s not ready to be released because they don’t have a place to stay, they don’t have place to go, they don’t have plans in place. It’s not an excuse. Quite the contrary. That’s an imperative that we work to keep our inmates safe and our staff safe in these correctional facilities. And I just want folks to know we are working overtime to do just that.
Gavin Newsom: (43:30)
I’m pleased and I’m very grateful members of the California legislature will be doing an oversight hearing. And we will be talking a lot more in the next few days about the details and strategies and plans, but it’s just an example of some of the work we have to do, and some of the concerns we continue to have as it relates to the spread of this disease, different settings, different criteria, different conditions, different challenges that present themselves on a daily and a weekly basis. So we are monitoring, not just monitoring that situation. We are actualizing plans to move people and we are doing it as responsibly as we humanly possibly can.
Gavin Newsom: (44:12)
I just want folks to know, advocates for urgency to know your voices are being heard for family members or loved ones in those facilities to know that your voices are being heard, and know that we are committed to meeting our responsibilities within CDCR, and moreover, as we release prisoners, the impact that we’ll have outside of our system as well. So I just wanted to highlight that update you a little bit on San Quentin. A broader overview about the dimmer switch, broad overview on some of the progress we have made in the State, and some of the concerns that continue to persist throughout the State of California.
Gavin Newsom: (45:00)
I’ll just end as I tend to on a daily, weekly, monthly, it seems like most of 2020 with this following, please wash your hands, practice the hygiene that we know can mitigate the spread of this disease, please physically distance when you can, when you are out and about, and you’re coming across people and lines, or out on the street, just do your best to keep that safe distance, and where you can’t, well, where you now must please wear a face covering, a face mask. It is incumbent upon all of us to take advantage of this non-pharmaceutical intervention that can truly mitigate the spread of the disease that can help keep you safe, that can keep other people safe, and then more importantly also sends a message that we’re not out of this by any stretch of the imagination, we still are in phase one or rather first wave of this pandemic, and we have a lot more work to do.
Gavin Newsom: (46:01)
Final point, by the way, I point a personal privilege because it’s important we have been very successful in this State, close to a quarter of a billion masks now are in our inventory. In fact, in excess of a quarter of a billion masks are now in the State inventory, hundreds of millions we want to get out in the next weeks and months, we’ve sent out tens of millions of masks, N95 masks, not just procedure masks and surgical masks. I just want folks to know, we have been blessed with receiving this unprecedented inventory in the last few weeks. And so much so I’ve mentioned this on a few occasions, we’ve sent 17 million of those masks to other State to help support their efforts as well.
Gavin Newsom: (46:53)
So we announced on Friday that we’re going to be distributing for free masks within sectors, as we reopen our economy, part of reopening the economy safely is having face coverings for workers and encouraging face coverings for customers. We are providing free masks as well. And so when we talk about a mandate, we also are mindful of our responsibility to help support people. When we do mandate something, and working with our manufacturing industry, working retail grocers, working with farm workers, and other representatives across the spectrum. We are distributing millions of millions of mass back. 35 million mass were just sent into three sectors of our economy. We announced that on Friday, tens of millions more will be forthcoming. With that I look forward to any forthcoming questions you may have.
Speaker 1: (47:47)
Patrick Healy, NBC L.A. Guy Marzorati, KQED.
Guy Marzorati: (47:59)
Thanks Governor. I’m wondering if the State is considering any changes to its policy around transferring inmates between prisons in the State. And also wondering if you agree with some of the calls from some North Bay local and State representatives for the federal courts to replace the federal receiver overseeing medical care.
Gavin Newsom: (48:20)
As I mentioned just a moment ago, we have already mitigated the transfers within the system, going back a number of months. There was unfortunately a number… There was a cohort prisoners that were transferred from Chino Prison. It looks and appears to be the case. Again, we’re still getting through the complete investigation. So I want to have that as a caveat of consideration before people run with it, though it’s been reported there was a transfer from Chino into San Quentin that unfortunately was tested, but was transferred, and nonetheless turned out to be positive.
Gavin Newsom: (48:56)
The receiver in the question you’re asking is to explain it to others that may be watching, wondering what a receiver is and what you’re even referring to. A number years ago in the State of California, because the incapacity for this State to address the medical needs of its inmates, the Federal Government intervened, this goes back a number of administrations many, many years ago, and basically took over the function of the healthcare delivery within our prison system. And the receiver in this case was instilled who makes those determinations, makes those decisions, but to be fair, makes those decisions and determinations in partnership with many different players.
Gavin Newsom: (49:33)
So I’m not of the opinion that some are about the individual receiver at this stage. This is an incredibly daunting and challenging responsibility. And we’re just uncovering in real time and understanding of what specifically happened in that transfer from Chino to San Quentin, but nonetheless, one thing lacks, well, any ambiguity whatsoever, and that is over a thousand prisoners have already tested positive in San Quentin prison. And we have formalized strategies and plans, including the prospect of using Seton Hospital [inaudible 00:50:09] one of our alternative care facility sites, if we have to transfer many, many patients into the hospital system from San Quentin.
Gavin Newsom: (50:19)
So all of those processes and protocols are being put into place, have been put into place and are being worked on in real time. Again, we’ll be making announcements on probably on a daily basis, not just a weekly basis as it relates to further efforts in this space,
Speaker 1: (50:36)
Alexei Koseff SF Chronicle.
Alexei Koseff: (50:40)
Hi Governor. The unemployment rate in California remains higher than nearly every other State in the country. And I’m wondering if you think this is a reflection of California’s slow efforts to work through the backlog of unemployment claim the EDD, or if there’s other unique circumstances that make the economic recovery here slower and more challenging.
Gavin Newsom: (51:07)
Yeah, I don’t think it’s in relationship to the frame of your question. I think it’s foundational. In the State of California, we tend to do better in the good times, tend to do a little bit worse in the bad times as it relates to the macro economy. California was experiencing, a hundred plus days ago, record low unemployment, 121, I believe, consecutive months, 119 or 121 consecutive months of net job creation, bond rating the highest they’ve been in two decades and joined record reserves and joined once again, a significant sizeable surplus, which we estimate at the time, roughly $6 billion. The budget I’ll be signing later this afternoon addresses a $54.3 billion shortfall and also deals with reality as you correctly state, 16.3% unemployment rate in the State of California.
Gavin Newsom: (51:56)
So we’re doing everything in our power with our economic workforce or rather Economic Recovery and Workforce Development Task Force with some of the best and the brightest minds in small business, and more broadly social justice and industry with just depth of experience, their perspective, their leadership demonstrably in this a hundred individual cohort of leaders to help guide us to an economic development, economic and workforce development and recovery plan.
Gavin Newsom: (52:29)
And so we are committed to that, we’re resolved to that. We were very pleased, I’ll be pleased to sign a budget today that helps, it weighs the costs associated with incorporating as a new business startup for the next year provides tens of millions of dollars of additional small grants and loans to, rather loans, to small businesses, many that fall through the cracks that don’t get SBA support, the PPP support and the like. We have a lot of work to do, but I’m very confident in our resiliency, our capacity to recover as a State.
Speaker 1: (53:01)
Speaker 2: (53:05)
Governor, why just closed bars? You mentioned they were areas of concern. Through contact tracing, are you finding that bars are areas where a lot of people are contracting the virus? And then in terms of Imperial County, I know the stay at home order is still in place. How do you want them to be more restrictive? And does that tie back to enforcement?
Gavin Newsom: (53:21)
At the end of the day, look, the local electives will make a formal decision. We want to give them cover making the right decision. If they don’t, we will enforce the decision to pull back and have stay at home order. And that’s on the basis of working very collaboratively, and as I said, including this weekend where three cabinet secretaries went down, including Dr. Angel herself went down, and visited with their health officer, their CIO, which is their city administrator, had really robust conversations, very positive conversations about how we can help support their efforts and mitigate spread. As you know, for weeks and weeks now, we’ve been providing other tenants of support, but we believe working with their.
Gavin Newsom: (54:03)
… of support, but we believe working with their health officials that pulling back to the state home order is advisable at this moment in order, again, to mitigate the spread of this disease to help support some stabilization in their hospital system, as well as address their positivity rate, which I noted in the state over a 14-day period, it’s 5.5%, 23% as of last week in Imperial County. So that’s an example of collaboration, partnership, support, technical assistance, and resources. Look, as it relates to bars, what we did is we reached out to state health officials all up and down the state. They made a number of comments about what they’re seeing in their communities as it relates to spread. We talked about community spread in some areas of where that was most self-evident, most problematic. Other issues related to congregate facilities, I referenced prisons a moment ago, others as it relates to still challenges they have in senior and adult daycare facilities. We also heard a lot of consternation and concern from health officials about family gatherings. I mentioned that a moment ago, and that’s just people letting their guard down, bringing up Uncle Bob, Aunt Susie over and all the cousins over. While you start with all the best intention, maybe people show up with their masks, they immediately put the mass down in order to have a drink, eat some food, and all of a sudden cousins get a little closer. The kids are jumping on top of you. Aunt Susie is now pulling you off and then makes the mistake to kiss you goodbye and says, “Oh, I didn’t mean to kiss you goodbye.” All the normalcy of life, love, family, relationships, and you let your guard down. We’re seeing a lot of that, and that’s a point of real concern from the health officials specific to your question.
Gavin Newsom: (55:49)
Bars were referenced by a number of people. No one’s naive. Look at some of the images. My phone is filled with images of people taking photos of some of the bars over the weekend saying, “How could this help with community spread? It’s only going to make things worse, not better.” You’re in a bar, you’re moving around, you’re drinking, your mask’s off, you’re close to other people. We’re seeing that in other countries. You saw, for example, in South Korea, some infamous examples of South Korea as they were making real progress. They had to pull back on bars and nightclubs, which they were specifically able to track. So our health officials, county health officials identify all of these areas as hotspots. Again, each county is different. Each county is seeing something different, but in the aggregate, based upon that feedback, based upon evidence of spread, based upon the concerns, we went forward with these 15 counties where we have mandated and or advise the closure of these bars.
Speaker 3: (56:54)
Taryn Luna, LA Times.
Taryn Luna: (56:57)
Governor, the requirement on bar closures allows bars to remain open if they serve food, which we know many do. It also allows bars to contract with food trucks or other food vendors to remain open. So if someone wants to go out and drink in public, they still can, as long as they order a plate of fries with their alcohol, so what practical effect does this have on preventing the spread of the virus?
Gavin Newsom: (57:17)
Well, I’m going to have Dr. Ghaly answer that. I know a thing or two about this business, as you know well, and so you’re describing exceptions, not the rule, and to the extent we expect compliance and we expect better behavior, and that we are committed to enforcing compliance, as I have been very clear moving forward. I think we can mitigate the stress and that concern. But Dr. Ghaly, who’s very familiar with LA County in particular and moreover in relationship to this guidance that he helped draft can answer more specifically.
Dr. Ghaly: (57:57)
Thank you, governor, and thank you for the question. We looked closely early on at restaurants that also serve alcohol and then bars as different, bars being places where primarily you are there to drink alcohol. We are targeting this intervention around the bar closure at the second group, bars where food is not the primary driver of the business. In those locations where you might have a restaurant with a bar where you can sit down and not just have a drink but order food, this does not apply in the same way. So we tried to clarify in that guidance. And again, we are seeing, as the result of these actions and our data, whether further steps need to be taken across the state in certain counties, and we will be in constant contact with our county partners to understand how this might impact what they’re seeing and experiencing in their communities and how this plays out in their data.
Dr. Ghaly: (58:58)
So just to clarify again that bars where primarily alcohol is consumed, you may be able to order some food there, but that is not the primary purpose for gathering or being a patron at that location, versus restaurants where you’re primarily there ordering food. You may do that at the restaurant bar, have a drink as well. Those are different in how we handled it in this guidance.
Gavin Newsom: (59:26)
And Dr. Ghaly’s pointing in this guidance. Let me be forthright with you. We are considering a number of other things to advance, and we will be making those public as conditions change and we will make public at we believe the appropriate time based upon our feedback and engagement with local health officers. So what Dr. Ghaly was saying, this is a dynamic process, not a static one, and changing environment, changing conditions, changing data will present itself a new set of facts that will allow us to process those facts, make some determinations as it relates to augmenting the orders and advancing perhaps even more restrictive ones as may be necessary.
Speaker 3: (01:00:20)
Kathleen Ronayne at AP.
Kathleen Ronayne: (01:00:23)
Hi, governor. Back to bars. So I understand the point that you’re making that counties each have their own sort of unique circumstances, but it sounds like we made the decision to close bars not because we’re tracing outbreaks there, but because public health officials consider them to be the highest risk spaces. So if we know they’re high risk spaces, why aren’t we closing them statewide? Then secondly, some advocates today called for relatives to be able to visit loved ones in nursing home facilities if they follow appropriate safety protocols. They say that people in these facilities are literally dying from isolation, so what needs to happen to allow the resumption of visits and nursing homes?
Gavin Newsom: (01:01:09)
Yeah, no. Perfect opportunity. Dr. Ghaly’s been working on that issue as well. Let me … Look, as it relates to factors across the state, I began this presentation, I’ll end it by making the point that there are different dynamics that play out differently in different parts of the state. So based upon the data, based upon the dashboard we put out, based upon the criteria Dr. Ghaly referenced today, the criteria, 14 days on this watch list, three to 14 days where we have concern, we will process 19 counties representing 72% of the state population we are now advising related to the bar closures or mandating, as is the case in those six counties plus Imperial, the seventh. But certainly your point is operable, but only when the data bears out that we should advance him. With that, let me ask Dr. Ghaly to talk about skilled nursing facilities and the issue of spending time with loved ones, particularly near the end of life.
Dr. Ghaly: (01:02:16)
Thank you, governor, and thank you for the timely question. Happy to report that on Friday, we had an all facility letter go out through CDPH giving guidance on exactly how visitation in skilled nursing facilities can occur in a lower risk way. We recognize the need and frankly the demand of loved ones to be able to not just visit, but participate in the care and nourishment of those family members in skilled nursing facilities. This has always been an asset to the facilities, the families and the residents to continue on the road to better and health and happiness. Over the period of COVID, the last few months, we know it has been very hard to see that diminished and altogether forbidden while we try to contain spread. We do feel like we’re at a point where it can be done in a safer way, so that is the purpose of having that facility guidance out. I hope that over the days and weeks to come that in a lower risk way, that we can begin to provide visitation to certain family members to not just see loved ones, but to support the care that they need.
Gavin Newsom: (01:03:36)
Speaker 3: (01:03:37)
Final question. Lucas Albert, Wall Street Journal.
Alexei Koseff: (01:03:42)
Hi, governor. It’s a two-part question. One is for a county to come on the radar state health officials for a higher level of positivity percentage, what is that percentage that is crossing the threshold? The second part is specifically related to LA County. The decision to open bars, which I believe was on June 19th, the week prior to that, the positivity rate was 12%. Similarly, when you opened restaurants there, positivity rate was 13%. Was that too high? Did things move too quickly in that county, perhaps?
Gavin Newsom: (01:04:19)
Yeah. So this is an opportunity to go back to the slide regarding local conditions driving our response and what the criteria towards elevated disease transmission, hospitalizations, limited hospital capacity. Dr. Ghaly can walk back through this slide in ways of directly answering your question again.
Dr. Ghaly: (01:04:42)
Again, thank you, governor, and thank you for the question. I’ll just remind you that we have from the beginning of the county monitoring process, coupled with the attestation process for counties to declare that they have both the level of epidemiologic data that is in good shape, plus the preparedness information around PPE, hospital capacity, testing, contact tracing that together counties were in a position to decide how when to move forward. The state had given clear guidance on the how. In the case of any county that gets onto the county monitoring list, I want to say that being on the county monitoring list also brings with it additional attention and focus, additional assistance, some additional resources and services at the state level, and really galvanizes the response at the county level in order to try to stay in front of and make sure that spread does not increase so rapidly.
Dr. Ghaly: (01:05:47)
In the case of Los Angeles County, they were one of the later counties to be able to attest, in part because of their initial level of transmission as well as the need to take some time to create that preparedness that we know is essential. Since that time, obviously across the state, we have seen an increasing number of cases, and we expect that at those local conversations between health officers, health departments, local leaders, they’re making the decision to move forward with certain sectors. Our decision this weekend to look closely at those counties that have been on the county monitoring list for at least 14 days, requiring that they close the bars is a move to be focused on those areas where we know spread or transmission has not only increased, but sustained and looking at high risk areas where mixing is frequent, contact tracing is difficult such as bars as places to not just take a pause, but to move backwards, so we can stay in front as much as possible of transmission of COVID-19 not just in those counties and across the state. We have learned with Imperial County that not only is the hospital system in the County important, but the regional and statewide system to support increases is equally important. So that look at county by county has implications statewide, and we will continue to look at it, not just at the county level, not just at the regional level, but statewide in order to make and support good decisions at the local level and the state level.
Gavin Newsom: (01:07:30)
Just important point, Dr. Ghaly’s making, and you heard this almost become a mantra when we put out guidelines. It does not mean go. When we put out sectorial guidelines, it’s a document that says how we believe you can responsibly and safely reopen. It absolutely does not attach to when. There is some sense and perhaps a little ambiguity in terms of some of the reporting that I’ve read out there that the state makes that determination. You just heard Dr. Ghaly express to the contrary. Local county health officers with their county-elected officials make that determination as to when they are prepared to safely reopen. We provide the technical assistance through this attestation process of what we expect in terms of the criteria. We post that criteria and then we monitor progress towards the stated goals.
Gavin Newsom: (01:08:29)
As Dr. Ghaly said, and I’ve got to give them a lot of credit, that local health officials, county and LA’s own mayor, Garcetti, were very, very focused, as a consequence, did not move as quickly as other counties to the attestation process or as quickly through the phases as other parts of the state. I just want to acknowledge that, because I have great respect for local decision making on the front end and recognize the deep responsibility we all have to monitor and not be complacent, at the same time to provide supports as we continue to do to those that need those supports.
Gavin Newsom: (01:09:16)
So with that, I just want to thank all of you for supporting the cause of giving us this chance to update you on where we are related to this pandemic. I will remind everyone of the imperative and importance of individual decision making, and the sum total of those decisions will determine the fate and future of the spread of this disease. Please practice physical distancing. Please, please, when you are in cohorts, mixing with strangers, people that are not part of your household, please wear a face covering. It’s a mandate in the state of California. No sign of weakness, only sign of strength, wearing a face covering. Also, know from that perspective, we want to strengthen our resolve, and that’s why we have applied this dimmer switch to certain sectors within our economy, and certainly we’ll hold out that if we do not see a mitigation of the spread, that we’ll consider to doing more.
Gavin Newsom: (01:10:14)
With that, I also want folks to know we have a lot more work to do on contact tracing in addition to providing the kind of supports to these cities and counties. I want to just preview that in a couple of days, we’ll be updating you on our stated goals, July 1st on our contact tracing, give you a sense of where counties are, how our platform is operating, how robust and effective our training protocols have been and what cohort we have up and running. So just know that that will be forthcoming in the next day or two. We’re trying to figure out exactly when that presentation comes out based upon all the other challenges that we are facing as a state. So with that, thank you all as always, and let’s do our best to mitigate the spread. We’ll get through this, and we’ll come out stronger than ever, but that amount of stress and anxiety will be determined on our ability to meet this moment head-on by wearing face coverings. Take care, everybody.