CA Clears COVID-19 Data Backlog

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TodayMonday, August 17, 2020, Governor Newsom provided a live update on the COVID-19 pandemic. He began his update addressing the oppressive and record-breaking heat across the state and the power shortage, which is expected to lead to more blackout periods in the coming days. After that briefing, Governor Newsom provided a brief on the pandemic, specifically handling of the backlog of cases, which has led to inaccurate data.

The Governor stated that, as reported in the past few days, the 295,000 backlog cases have been addressed and of that a total of 14,861 backlog positive cases have been brought forward. The backlog has been completely addressed and there are no additional cases in backlog. The Governor noted he would notify everyone, regarding any changes to the Monitoring List, as a result of updating the backlog. He told the audience, as anticipated, the new trend line compared to the trend line (pre-backlog being cleared) are very similar. If you add all the backlog cases, over a 7-day average period, there are 9,446 cases, which is high. Today there are 6,469 positive cases in the state—a higher number than we want, but it is trending downward.

When it comes to testing, the state is averaging 134,000 tests per day. The average 7-day daily of tests conducted is 133,632. The average number of people tested who test positive over the course of the last 14 days is 6.5 percent (positivity rate), which is trending down from 7.2 last week.

Hospitalizations are trending downward, and the Governor noted he expects the hospitalization and the ICU numbers to continue downward, as long as everyone continues to wear masks, distance themselves from others, and wash their hands often. The Governor stated the one concern is the number of Counties on the Monitoring List has grown to 42, which included adding Amador, Mendocino, Inyo, Calaveras, Sierra and removing Santa Cruz. He stated he expects to see at least one other county come off of the Monitoring List in the next couple of days. The Governor, once again, encouraged everyone to go to to see how their county is doing in managing the pandemic. 

The Governor went on to go over the daily numbers (see below for Key Indicators) and then reminded everyone to do their part to stop the spread of the virus, as the daily 14-day average for deaths is 132, which he noted is too high—in fact he stated, “one life lost to this virus is too many.” He spoke of a recent visit he had with healthcare professionals on the front-line taking care of people in the hospital and ICU with COVID-19 and how lonely they said the patients are, as they cannot see their family members. He said the doctors and nurses working the ICU said they feel the pain of patients who they know will die alone and not have the comfort of their family members because they are isolated with the virus. He said the healthcare professionals talked of how emotionally painful it is for them to know these patients cannot be with their family members and to watch them die alone is heartbreaking. 

The Governor reminded everyone to please “wear a mask, distance yourself physically from others, avoid mixing with others outside of your immediate household, and wash your hands often. Your actions can save lives.” 

Executive Order and School Funding

On Friday, August 14, the Governor signed an Executive Order providing $5.3 billion from the CARES Act to help schools with PPE and supplies needed to support education during the pandemic. The Order also directs state agencies to bridge the digital divide. In signing the Executive Order, the Governor stated, “Schools may be physically closed, but in California at least, class is still in session. While more work remains, districts across the state are in a far better position this semester to provide meaningful distance instruction to every child. In these challenging circumstances, our state has profound respect and gratitude for the parents and teachers who are doing all they can to make sure our students’ educational and social-emotional needs are met” (read more here). The Governor urged everyone to see how much funding is provided to their schools (find that information here). 

School Reopening

The Governor noted schools are reopening and that his administration has put forward guidance for schools and now also for youth sports to help parents and authorities be safe during school and sports. The Guide for Schools is published on the Department of Public Health website (read more here). Updated guidance was released for childcare, day camps, and schools (read more here). Guidance is also provided for youth sports (read more here).

Guidance for higher education, (read more here).

The Governor began the Q&A with media by phone. 


Several questions focused on the energy issue and the high temperatures, and ranged from what the Governor is doing to avoid ongoing energy emergencies to securing new power sources. The Governor responded that he is working on contingencies for the state ranging from new power sources to conservation measures and beyond to help prepare the state’s green energy future that is accountable and environmentally aware. An investigation is underway to determine the protocols for notifications of energy shortages and PUC work related to forecasts. 

One reporter asked if there will be allowances for students who cannot connect with school or complete their work, due to the power outages, or if the required instructional minutes cannot be reached due to power outages. The Governor noted this temperature issue is a temporary one, as the heat dome is expected to move on by mid-week. However, he noted if there are extenuating circumstances that affect school instruction, yes, it will be considered.

One reporter noted, because the Governor was not aware of the issues with the CalREDIE system and unaware of some of the energy issues, is it possible there is a communication problem within his administration? The Governor responded he is aware of the energy issues and worked with Governor Brown on those issues when he was Lt Governor. He also stated that governing a state this big makes it difficult to predict every possible issue. 

Key milestones and trends – COVID-19 numbers – as of today (8/17/20)

The Governor noted the most important measures of the trajectory of the virus are the 
positivity rate and the 7-day average; in some cases, only the 14-day average is available.

  • 11,242 deaths, up by 18 overnight or +0.2%; 7-day average 883 or 8.5%; 14-day average 1,854 or 19.7%. 
  • 628,031 positive cases - up by 6,469 or +1.0%, 7-day average 9,446; 14-day total 8,081. The 7-day positivity rate is 7.1%; the 14-day positivity rate is 6.5%.
  • 9,933,780 tests conducted; 1-day total 135,645 up by 1.4%; 14-day up 1,749,084 or 21.4%.
    • Latinos continue to have the highest percentage of positive cases at 59%; Caucasians 17%; Asians 5%, and Blacks 4%.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID positive is 4,975 down by 52 or 1.0%; 14-day rolling average is 5,571.
    • The majority of hospitalizations are in LA County 1,352, followed by San Bernardino 437; Orange County 414; Riverside 296; Fresno 235; 
      San Diego 216; Alameda 188; Stanislaus 188; Santa Clara 173; Kern 171; San Joaquin 146. 
  • ICU – COVID positive patients in ICU is 1,589 down by 30 or 1.9%; the 14-day rolling average is 1,735.


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