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COVID-19 State Policy Update 05.08.20

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May 8, 2020

Today, Friday May 8thGovernor Newsom delivered his daily briefing from a local florist shop, highlighting the fact that the state is moving into Stage 2 - which allows retailers to open and provide curb-side service, allows manufacturers that support retailers and logistics companies open for business under the published guidelines, including providing masks and ensuring the safety of employees and customers.


The Governor noted that his team is working with two dozen counties that want to move more quickly through Stage 2. He stated he wants, like many people, to see the entire state move forward, but said again, “this all depends on meeting the six criteria, doing testing and tracing, making sure data are available in real time, not in the aggregate.” Read more about the State’s Pandemic Road Map here.  “We need to protect the most vulnerable including seniors in congregant living locations and the homeless. We need to know hospital capacity, surge capacity in real time to allow us to know where spread is occurring and mitigate that spread and potentially throttle back and strengthen our restrictions for a time.”


The Governor noted 70% of the state’s economy can move forward in Stage 2 with modifications—that means restrictions. He stated, “I want us to be sober about this reality. Even though we make these modifications, it doesn’t mean customers are confident and comfortable yet. It doesn’t mean we have the number of employees we want or that receipts and revenues are what they used to be—that is a reality.” The Governor reminded the audience of the need to support local businesses, so they not only survive but thrive.


He noted yesterday was a momentous day, releasing the guidelines allowing the state to move into Stage 2, and pointed out that in the florist shop where the briefing was taking place, employees were wearing masks and practicing social distancing to comply with the Stage 2 guidelines.


The Governor shared that he anticipates an announcement next Tuesday (May 12) of additional variation guidelines to facilitate further movement into Stage 2 for those counties that meet those criteria. He noted some of what will be included will be checklists that articulate hand washing instructions and details on conducting pick-ups and drop-offs while practicing social distancing. He stated, “we are trying to tailor these guidelines with a frame of flexibility, recognizing the entrepreneurial spirit that built these businesses—taking them from a dream to pen to paper to doors open. We want to provide flexibility because no two flower shops are the same.”


The Governor then noted he wanted to bring the audience up to speed on things that occurred in the past 24 hours. He noted that the number of masks California has in inventory is allowing officials today to distribute two million masks to farm workers throughout the state, more than 500,000 to small grocers, and millions of masks to skilled nursing, assisted living, and hospitals across the state. He noted nearly 32 million masks are in the state’s inventory and this is a very good sign for the state in trying to move forward, as personal protective equipment (PPE) is foundational in this effort.


Testing for COVID-19 - Newsom updated the testing numbers, as more than 875,000 Californians have been tested for COVID-19 and reminded everyone that the state successfully launched the test locator site and urged them to find a nearby testing location and get tested. “Getting most people tested is foundational in our efforts (find the site here). Case rate, the percentage of people who test positive for the virus versus the total number of people tested, will allow us to judge our movement through Stage 2 and subsequent Stages. “We continue to need to remind you to be vigilant. This pandemic is not over and it’s not going away.” The Governor stated that he knew people may be exhausted and chomping at the bit to return to normal, but he cautioned everyone to be careful and stick to the guidelines. He reminded the audience that 1800 new cases were identified, and 81 people lost their lives in the past 24 hours, which means the virus is still active.


Governor Newsom reiterated the point that vigilance is the order of the day and decision making will rely on data with indications to determine our next steps. Localization is also important, as the Governor stated he recognizes not every part of the state will move at the same pace, but he noted, “we will move through this together.” 


He thanked local health directors in the Bay Area for doing what they believe is the right thing to do in their community, which is to hold back on some of the provisions in Stage 2. He also thanked those county officials who contacted him and are working cooperatively to move more quickly through Stage 2.


The November Election Executive Order - The Governor went on to discuss the November election and noted there is a lot of concern and anxiety regarding the election in November in terms of making sure you can conduct yourself in a safe manner, so your health is protected. Governor Newsom announced just before his briefing began, that he signed a new Executive Order allowing every registered voter in the state to receive a mail-in ballot. He noted officials are reaching out to all eligible voters and sending them a mail-in ballot, however, voters will still have the ability to cast their vote at a physical location, if they choose. He stated that while the mail-in ballot is important, it is not exclusive, because there are people unfamiliar with the mail-in ballot, others with disabilities, or for other reasons some who need to vote in person, physical locations will be established with a focus on public health and safety.


The Governor gave credit to Secretary of State Alex Padilla for his work and dedication to the election process and working overtime to make sure the November election has integrity, voter confidence, and meets the needs of containing the virus. He thanked Secretary Padilla for working closely with the Legislature to meet these goals. The Governor then invited Secretary Alex Padilla, who joined the briefing by phone, to say a few words.


Secretary Padilla began by thanking the Governor for his leadership though the pandemic and having the fortitude to make tough decisions, which are resulting in the state being able to move into Stage 2, and he noted that the Governor’s Executive Order makes California the first state in the nation taking the action to send every voter a mail-in-ballot.


The Secretary explained some of the key features to ensure the November election goes smoothly includes identifying physical spaces where voters may cast their ballots and be safe from the virus. He noted that he realizes there is no safer and more convenient way to vote than to do so in the comfort of one’s own home. He also explained that thanks to legislative action and the Governor’s approval, “voters will no longer need to scramble to find stamps for their mail-in-ballot because pre-paid return postage is provided for them.”  He stated he believes this “is great for voting rights and encouraging participation because November is slated to be the most consequential election of our lifetime.”  On that note, the Secretary urged every Californian to make sure their voting registration is up to date and provided the website address to update your registration— He also asked the audience to provide an e-mail address, so his office may communicate effectively with California voters.


Secretary Padilla next spoke to the point regarding establishing physical locations and noted that this work is ongoing and key to a successful election. He appealed to the audience to consider volunteering to work at a polling place, noting there has been a serious shortage of polling place volunteers and he expects that to be the case in this election because traditionally the majority of volunteers are seniors and given the COVID-19 crisis and the fact that seniors are among the most vulnerable to the virus, there is a need for younger, healthy people to step up and volunteer. “This is an opportunity for you to do your civic duty.” He concluded noting much work remains to be done and he looks forward to a successful election in November.


Governor Newsom then thanked Secretary Padilla for his leadership and guidance and his inclusivity in his work with the Legislature and many advocates who were eager to see this progress in our election process.


The Governor went on to address other issues and update some information, noting hospitalizations and ICU numbers are down. “We’re seeing a decline in the hospitalizations and a modest decline in the ICU numbers—again that’s in the aggregate.” The Governor again acknowledged some parts of the state have been more impacted by the virus than others, which is why with self-certification in consult with the Department of Public Health, it is possible for some areas of the state to move further into Stage 2 at a faster rate than others. He cautioned the audience that with “40 million people in the state, we must be vigilant in following the guidelines and we will move more quickly though Stage 2.”


The Governor again expressed his appreciation to officials in Orange County for their work and cooperation in reaching agreements that allow the beaches to open under circumstances that provide safety for public health. He again noted there are two counties that have moved much more quickly in opening bars and restaurants, among other businesses and he cautioned these moves are unadvisable and risk public health. He reiterated the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control contacted those businesses to discuss these concerns and the businesses have sense closed their doors again and are adhering to the guidelines. Additionally, 33 salons and barbershops opened and were contacted by state officials and have also closed their doors. The Governor pledged to continue to work with local officials in various counties to consider variations of the guidelines and timelines and help as many as possible advance further into Stage 2 if they are able to meet the needs for public health and containment of the virus.


The Governor’s Executive Order on the November election can be found here.


Cohort Training - The Governor then went on to thank officials at UCSF and UCLA for their work in getting the first 500 people into the first cohort training session, which consists of five days and 20 hours of training to be contact tracers and join the existing workforce of nearly 3,000.  The Governor stated that within the first Stage of training, 10,000 people will be trained and in the coming months, another 10,000 will be trained. He noted the importance of the training in that tracers will contact many diverse populations and need cultural competence training in order to appropriately reassure them all health data is protected in this process and is not shared with any other authority or organization. The Governor noted officials held workshops with diverse communities to make sure they were reassured that their privacy, which is well established in California, will be protected.


The Governor also issued an executive order that extends deadlines impacted by COVID-19 for certification requirements including public school inspectors, notaries, workers to file wage claims, and others. A copy of the Governor’s order can be found here.


The Governor closed by wishing every mother across the state a Happy Mother’s Day and encouraged everyone to shop local businesses and support them this Mother’s Day.


Q&A - The first media question focused on the Governor’s reaction to the unemployment numbers released by the federal government and the impact on the state budget, which is already noted to be in a deficit.  The Governor responded by again noting the numbers for unemployment and the budget are “jaw-dropping” and akin to numbers seen during the Great Depression. He reiterated the need for federal government financial support to help not only California but all of the states in the same or similar situation due to the pandemic. He noted again this situation is not the result of fiscal mismanagement—but due to a global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and people are looking to their government to do what needs to be done to recover. He did acknowledge California will have to pull from its reserves and will work with the Legislature and legislative leaders to address that, but federal government intervention is needed. He closed on this question by noting this is not a red state or blue state issue and only the federal government has the ability to invest in the future and do justice for the people who have been so impacted by this crisis.


Another question focused on a comment the Governor made Thursday, May 7, when he stated the first case of community transmission in California was traced to a nail salon and “didn’t that comment effectively throw that industry under the bus.”  The Governor explained he had no intention of doing that and he had great respect for those with the entrepreneurial spirit to start up nail salons. He noted he has supported them and visited nail salons many times, but this was a sheer matter of fact, not an attempt to slight a business or profession. He said the point he was trying to make was about community spread and why we need to progress carefully and judiciously as we reopen the economy.


Key milestones – COVID-19 Numbers – as of today (5.8.20)

  • More than 2,585 total deaths, up 3.2%  
  • 65,512 positive cases, up 3.1%
  •  875,272 tests conducted. Still averaging over 30k daily
    • Latinos continue to have the highest percentage of positive cases at 49.8%, followed by Caucasians at 24%, Asians at 11.3%, and Blacks at 6.2%.
  • Hospitalizations decreased by 69 since Wednesday (-2.1%) to 3,250
    • The majority of hospitalizations are in LA County 1,771, followed by San Diego County at 312; Orange County 222; Riverside 194; San Bernardino 153; Alameda 75; San Francisco 72.
  • ICU – 1,118, down by 17 (-.06%)