Mar 24, 2020
Governor Gavin Newsom of California Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 24
Governor Gavin Newsom of California gave another press briefing on COVID-19 on March 24, 2020. Read the full transcript of his speech & remarks here.
Gavin Newsom: (01:23)
In every circumstance when people are made eligible, they go through a very formal process of interviews and reviews that’s done in person. Because of the nature of this virus, the nature of this moment, we’re going to be changing the procedures and protocols in the executive order we lay out a strategy to begin the process of doing a video conferences. This would be a temporary advancement, but under the circumstances in terms of our isolation strategies, in order to continue the processing of people that are eligible for parole and the encouragement to make sure that that process happens at the scale it’s been happening in the past, we think it’s appropriate to move forward with those teleconferences. And that executive order lays out strategies to do just that. And so those orders will be in effect, they are in effect immediately and the protocols and procedures are in effect in real time. And we’ll talk more about that in the coming days as we look not just to the state prison population but the county jail population as well.
Gavin Newsom: (02:28)
In addition to that, we had a remarkable day conversations with our Army Corps of Engineers. They are now stationed just right outside our SOC here at the emergency operation centers. We have three divisions throughout the state of California. They’ve been working with our state leadership, National Guard, others within our respective organizations to site through a survey process, the appropriate locations for potential support of our Army Corps. In addition to sites that we have identified through our federal medical program that we announced yesterday, and the fact that we have two sites coming up, one in Riverside and Santa Clara. We’re looking at additional sites in ways that the Army Corps can compliment the work to get those sites fully operational. And so that’s convention facilities, that’s facilities large and small up and down the state fairgrounds and the like. But we went through more detailed protocols and sharing expectations so that we can lay out exactly our expectations moving forward.
Gavin Newsom: (03:33)
The army Corps of Engineers move quickly, and we’re very enthusiastic that that partnership has really taken shape over the course of the last week and been advanced over the course of the last few hours in more meaningful ways. Addition to that, we had a wonderful news, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin, now partnering as Tim Cook did and Elon Musk of Tesla and spaceX. Just another individual that stepped, Virgin is stepping up, bringing a 747 into the Bay Area and Oakland. And we worked on logistics related to that for a significant enhancement, personal protective gear. We’ll have more details on that in the next day or two.
Gavin Newsom: (04:14)
Just another point of emphasis, another example, an indication of people that are stepping up in heroic ways, bringing that from Asia into the Bay Area to help support our efforts and to help support one of our largest hospital systems, Kaiser in that process. We had the tragic loss of a young life, a teenager in Lancaster, California, which underscores the enormity of the challenge in front of us, this health crisis and how it can impact anybody and everybody. I know it’s sobering when you read the headlines, some of the headlines said a child, but to be more precise, a teenager lost lives. And we are doing the investigation, trying to understand more about exactly what occurred, but COVID related tragic loss of life.
Gavin Newsom: (05:06)
As of 10:00 AM this morning, we’ve lost 40 lives in the state of California related to COVID-19. We have lost over 2,100, or rather we have 2,100 positives in the state of California, 2,102 which was 17.5% higher than the previous day. Again, that’s a 10:00 AM number, those numbers change in real time, but a 17 and a half percent increase and now a loss of a young person’s life. I want to just make a point to emphasize this and extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family and the community that has lost their loved one but also make this point, young people can and will be impacted by this virus. In fact, young people disproportionately are the ones testing positive in the state of California, 50% of the 2,102 individuals that have tested positive, 50% are between the age of 18 and 49.
Gavin Newsom: (06:09)
I’ll repeat that. Half of those that have tested positive to date in the state of California are 18 to 49 years old. This disease impacts everybody, the question is the acuity and the hospitalization rate that yes does skew on the side of older populations. But with this tragic now death, it is a reminder to everybody to take this seriously. It’s a health crisis, it needs to be met first and foremost head on as such. And that’s why it is incumbent upon all Californians to continue to take our stay at home order seriously, to continue to do the kind of social distancing that common sense dictates and to heed the warnings we advanced yesterday to stay out of settings like beaches and parks where you’re coming into close contact with others, practice social distancing. And we had to step up our enforcement yesterday as it relates to shutting down those parking facilities as a consequence to reinforce and remind people the seriousness of the moment, but what more evidence do you need of a loss of a young person’s life?
Gavin Newsom: (07:19)
And so I just cannot impress upon the young people out there more the seriousness of this moment and how critical they are to ultimately getting us on the other side by practicing that social distancing that we all are accustomed to hearing but not in every case advancing individually. By the way, for those that are curious, 26% of individuals, 50 to 64 are represented in the 2,102 individuals that have been tested positive. 23% of all the other cases are represented in individuals North of 65 years old. The hospitalization rates tend to skew higher in those cohorts, but the number of positives again remains half 18 to 49. So broad strokes, that’s been most of the day as it relates to operationalizing a lot of the work that we’ve been talking about in the last number of days.
Gavin Newsom: (08:19)
I had a number of conversations with governors across the country about protocols and procedures to better work collaboratively on procurement strategies. We actually are lining up and linking together our procurement teams with other states to make sure that we’re not competing with one another. We’re making sure we are price conscience and dealing with the issue of price gouging, comparing best practices with state attorney generals, not just the work that the federal government is doing, William Barr and others that we were pleased to hear announced yesterday. So those are good conversations, and those conversations we hope will be made real in terms of organizing in a more deliberative and strategic way. The procurement of the hundreds of millions of individual items that we need to procure, and shields and gloves and gowns and coveralls and face mask and swabs and the like.
Gavin Newsom: (09:16)
We have testing numbers, the testing has significantly increased across this country, but also in the state of California. Tomorrow we’ll be laying out the new numbers that we have received that will show a significant jump in the numbers we’ve made public as we’ve brought together all of these one-off collection sites and all of the hospitals, research universities that are participating as well as the private labs. And we’ll have a new process to collect those numbers in real time to bring to light I think more comforting numbers on the scale of testing. It’s still not close to where we need to be, we still need more swabs, we still need more reagents, these RNA extraction kits. But we are seeing higher throughput, and we’re seeing new technologies coming to bear, we’re testing, we’re working with the FDA, Trump administration to get out of the market one.
Gavin Newsom: (10:09)
I was meeting with folks today that have a 45-minute test because the issue now is not just swab and RNA extraction and reagents, it’s about turning around the tests which are in some cases taking days and days and days. Some cases, many is seven, eight, nine days. And so we’re going to have to address the timeliness of the diagnostic and the test results as well. Again, you constantly have to iterate in this space as we’ve moved from just public labs to those commercial quest and LabCorp now to needing specimen samples, swabs in the media associated with that to now making sure we turn around these tests in a much quicker time, but more on that tomorrow. We also, in closing, have done a lot on the ventilator side of things.
Gavin Newsom: (11:00)
I mentioned yesterday the heroic work of Elon Musk who came through on his promise to deliver over 1,000 ventilators, and that was announced yesterday. We brought in ourselves, we just got another 1,010 ventilators from the private sector. We’re working with Bloom Energy and others to convert that cash of 514 ventilators that we had to refurbish them and to get them fully operational. We have received from the federal government no direct ventilators from the National Stockpile. Los Angeles County did receive 170, and they have a unique relationship to the National Stockpile, but that’s all we received within the state of California proper. But we’re not discouraged by that, we are encouraging the federal government and we have direct orders and asks in to do more on the ventilators. But we are doing everything we can to orient our efforts around the world to get more ventilators in the state. About 3,000 we’ve been able to bring online a community college system.
Gavin Newsom: (12:06)
I was talking to the head of the community college system, which also have been heroic as they provided just as one example, 60 ventilators. And they’re also keeping by the way all of us safe because just remember the community college system is the backbone of our training in the state of California by some estimates, 70% of our first responders however one would define them, are trained through that community college system and they’re doing heroic work in this state as well. I only offer that because of the conversations we had today. They deserve to be highlighted. Protocols continue to make sure that we have safe logistics and supply chain. We’re working with our egg community, we’re working with those that are warehousing our food, making sure those supermarket shelves are stocked. I know people are calling in concerned not just about toilet paper, bread and the like.
Gavin Newsom: (12:59)
I’ve had some very comforting conversations from grocers, their representatives and the egg community that they feel like they’re up to the task to meet this moment. There’s some protocols shifting away from, in some cases, choice to quantity as purchasing habits are changing and some of the procedures and protocols around distribution channels are also changing. The supply chains are changing in real time. But as you know, we are supplementing our workforce in that respect and making sure that people know there are over 10,000 jobs available for our grocers, and that’s an area they’re hiring. And I know people want to hear that because our unemployment insurance system is being overwhelmed, and I want folks to know we’ve made some real shifts on staffing today. We’ll be doing a lot more in the coming days to meet the demands.
Gavin Newsom: (13:53)
It’s now averaged over the last seven days because of a huge increase, even yesterday of 114,000. It’s the seven day rolling average to the number unemployment insurance claims that have been requested. And the state remember averaged before this crisis about 2,500. So we had a very robust conversation today with our team to make sure that we are re-purposing our workforce and making sure we’re moving things around to make sure we adequately are addressing the UI requests that are coming in. So that’s a broad strokes and update on where we are today and tomorrow, we’ll be talking a lot more about economic issues, mortgage related issues for closure related issues, update on the testing, and of course, I’m here for our Facebook friends to answer any questions you have this evening as well.
Speaker 2: (14:49)
Governor, a lot of people are asking, will California also open in April?
Gavin Newsom: (14:53)
Yeah. Well, the question of whether California will open in April, let me be sober about that. I’m not Pollyannaish about any of these things. I referenced the 17.5% increase in the number of positives. I talked about the fact that our testing protocols have significantly increased, but I also mentioned that not all those tests are back. Thousands and thousands of people have been tested who are waiting for their results, and we clearly based upon the curve have a lot more work to do. If Californians continue to do more and do better as they have … And I’m really proud of, look, this state started on this journey working originally with the federal government on the repatriation flights from overseas. And we started a socialized covert ID in the state of California before probably any other state because of that unique repatriation strategy was highlighted during the Grand Princess efforts. And I’m very proud of those efforts.
Gavin Newsom: (15:49)
So we didn’t have a Diamond Princess issue, the Grand Princess we were able to work as well to highlight this issue in the region. We went forward with those stay at home orders for our seniors very earlier on in this process. And of course, California moved formerly with the cities and regions leading first and then as a state at scale with the stay at home orders. So we’re trying to bend that curve, but we haven’t bent it. And so the question is April, early April I think that would be misleading to represent at least for California that that will be the case.
Gavin Newsom: (16:29)
I’ve said this very honestly and objectively based upon all of the expertise and experts that are here assembled and those we contact and work with that the next six to eight weeks will be pivotal and will be determinative in terms of being able to make adjustments and be able to reset expectations. I said eight to 12 weeks because soberly we look out over the course of 8 to 12 weeks and I think we can continue to do what we’ve done. If we do that, hopefully then we’ll be in a very different place than we are today. But I think April for California would be sooner than any of the experts that I talked to would believe is possible.
Speaker 2: (17:17)
Governor, what is your message to people buying all the toilet paper?
Gavin Newsom: (17:20)
Well, my message to people buying toilet paper is a get what you need not more than you need. I’ve got a family of four and we scurried around a few different grocery stores, and they were out and we finally found toilet paper. I will just say this, no reason to hoard the toilet paper. All the folks I talked to, I had deep conversations, not just passing conversation, casual conversations with the grocers, with all our supply chain. And I’m confident in our capacity to deliver toilet paper. But if you’re going to do massive hoarding, it just makes it more challenging in certain locations in this state. So just be thoughtful not just about your own needs, but also be thoughtful about the needs of others.
Speaker 2: (18:07)
What is the percentage of recoveries to infections?
Gavin Newsom: (18:11)
We’re getting those direct stats. In fact, the hospitalization number, those stats, we’re going to have more formal stats on that tomorrow.
Speaker 2: (18:20)
And last question, where do I go to find out if I’m an essential worker?
Gavin Newsom: (18:24)
Well, we have a very detailed site, covid19.ca.gov that lays out what is essential and non-essential. We put together a very comprehensive list working with health directors throughout the state of California, working with counties, working with city leaders throughout the state. In fact, I was talking to one other governor today that had a recent stay at home order comparing and contrasting notes, what worked, what didn’t, what was most controversial, what wasn’t. So it’s a sheet that is iterative, and it’s a sheet that is available, a comprehensive list that’s available. And I encourage people to go to the covid19.ca.gov website to learn more. And when in doubt, go to your county health department that also has those resources available that will localize them in a way that also I think could guide a more direct answer to that question.
Gavin Newsom: (19:21)
So that’s it in a nutshell. We’ll be back tomorrow to more formally update everybody on where we are. Everybody stay safe, most importantly stay healthy, and let’s continue to meet this moment as California is leading in terms of these efforts. Let us continue to lead and let us continue to lean forward to recognize our responsibility. Let us not have to once again announce that a teenager lost their lives because we didn’t take this moment seriously. Let us take this moment seriously and soberly. Let’s live our lives, but let’s do it by being thoughtful about how we meet this moment. Take care everybody.