COVID-19 State Policy Update 07.01.20

Coronavirus

Today, Wednesday, July 1, Governor Newsom provided an update on the COVID-19 pandemic and made important announcements regarding rolling back some of the county variances to stop the spread of the virus (read more from the CA Dept of Public Health here). The Governor began his talk by noting the COVID-19 virus is spreading at a rate that is very concerning, which has led him and county public health officials to take specific actions to stop the spread. Effective immediately, for the 19 counties on the “watch list” for three consecutive days, indoor operations of a number of business sectors is to cease for at least the next three weeks. 

Those counties are:

  • Contra Costa                      
  • Fresno
  • Glenn                                                    
  • Imperial
  • Kern                                                       
  • Kings
  • Los Angeles                                         
  • Merced
  • Orange                                 
  • Riverside
  • Sacramento                                        
  • San Bernardino
  • San Joaquin                                        
  • Santa Barbara
  • Santa Clara                                          
  • Solano
  • Stanislaus                                            
  • Tulare
  • Ventura

The following business sectors, within the above counties, must close all indoor operations immediately and for the next three weeks:

  • Restaurants 
  • Museums and Zoos
  • Family Entertainment Centers
  • Movie Theaters
  • Cardrooms
  • Wineries and Tasting Rooms

Regarding casino operations, the Governor said state officials are working with Sovereign Nations to come to an agreement that provides appropriate safety for patrons. The Governor noted these steps are being taken to stop the spread of the virus, as experts have said the virus will spread more readily when people are indoors for an extended time and there is less air to circulate. By concentrating on outdoor activity, we are more likely to be protected from the virus spread. He emphasized numerous times, this order ONLY applies to the 19 counties on the watch list and from this point forward any county that is on the watch list for three consecutive days

Bars - The bar closure was originally ordered for 7 counties and recommended for an additional 8 counties. Under the new order, all bars are to close operations in the 19 counties on the watch list.

State Beaches – All parking facilities at state beaches in the Bay Area and Southern California will be closed for the 4th of July weekend. 

Local Beaches – In counties where local beaches will be closed or limited admissions, state parks and beaches will follow suit to assist the county with compliance.

State Parks – State parks will remain open; however, parking will be reduced to limit visitation and maintain social distancing.

Additional recommendations include:

  • Counties with mandatory closures (19) should consider canceling firework shows.
  • Californians should not gather with people with whom they do not live
  • Avoid events and crowds through the 4th of July weekend.

The Governor noted the 4th of July weekend is traditionally one that brings together family and friends, but this year he urged people to rethink their plans and consider staying home for the weekend and only being with their immediate family. Governor Newsom reminded the audience that 40 million Californians worked for many weeks to flatten the curve and reduce the spread of the virus and now is not the time to let all of that work be wiped out by an upward swing in the virus positivity rate. Public health officials’ concerns are getting past the 4th of July without a significant change in the number of positive cases.

The Governor noted public health officials find the recent increase in the number of positive cases and the positivity rate have come primarily from family gatherings that brought together extended family and friends. He stated he and other officials know people get together with the best of intentions and probably start out wearing masks, but as time goes by and people eat and drink, the masks come off and are not likely to go back on, and people are more likely to not social distance with people outside of their immediate family and that is how people become vulnerable to the virus.

The Governor stated it is important for people to realize this new order is not about being punitive, but rather about controlling the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. “Our actions have an impact on other peoples’ lives. We are taking these steps to protect everyone. This is why we wear a seatbelt or helmet. It is not only to protect ourselves but to protect others.” The Governor noted he has heard pundits and others comment in the public space that the death rate is down significantly and is no longer an issue. He stated this is wrong—the death rate continues to be a daily issue. “For those who say people are not dying from COVID-19, talk to the families of the 110 people who died in just the past 24 hours. Families devastated by this virus. Let us protect our lives and take seriously this deadly disease.”

Enforcement

The Governor spoke to the issue of enforcement of the mask mandate and the new closure order, which has been an ongoing media question at every press conference. The Governor stated that enforcement is not about a closed fist, but an open heart and education to help people understand why these actions are necessary and why compliance is so important. 

Governor Newsom introduced the concept of strike teams that will work in the six regions across the state. The multi-agency strike teams include:

  • The California Highway Patrol
  • The Department of Alcholic Beverage Control
  • CalOSHA
  • Department of Business Oversight
  • Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Department of Public Health 

The Governor noted education is the focus, but if citations or license restrictions are needed to gain compliance, the teams will use those resources. He introduced Mark Ghilarducci, the Director of the Office of Emergency Services to talk about the enforcement effort.

Mr. Ghilarducci reiterated the Governor’s points that education, not punitive action, is the focus of enforcement. “As we see non-compliant behavior and actions, the strike team members will engage those individuals with a focus to protect public health.” He explained the strike teams will begin working today and will be deployed throughout the state to areas and businesses impacted by the order and will coordinate with local law enforcement teams.”

The Governor returned to the podium to note again the focus of enforcement is not to be punitive, in fact, he noted as he has mentioned several times, the state budget has $2.5 billion dollars for rewarding good behavior in counties. “For those who thumb their nose at the order and the need to protect public safety, I say enforcement may be what we need to get you to comply, but I’m asking you to be responsible. In the spirit of our Founding Fathers, do the right thing for the community, take personal responsibility and take these orders seriously.” The Governor thanked the counties on the watch list and noted they have been cooperative and collaborative and focused on doing the right thing. 

The Governor reminded the audience that this is all occurring because the positivity rate continues to rise. Today the 14-day positivity rate is 6% and the seven-day rate is 6.4%. “These numbers are concerning,” said the Governor. “We simply must stop this virus. We have worked so hard to build our assets, our hospital capacity, our PPE. We’ve secured hundreds of millions of masks. Wearing a mask is a sign of toughness. It’s a sign of resolve. It’s a sign of someone who gives a damn. It’s a sign of someone who wants to solve a problem and take responsibility. I think that’s a beautiful thing. The spirit of our Founding Fathers is the spirit of the moment—taking personal responsibility. Wearing a mask sends a powerful message. Thank you to those of you who are wearing face coverings. Thank you for setting an example.”

The Governor reminded the audience of the Great Plates program, as he is asking people to again stay home, especially those over age 65 and with underlying health conditions. He urged people to go to www.covid19.ca.gov to learn more about Great Plates and get three meals a day for someone who may need them.

He updated the contact tracing training program operated by UC San Francisco and UCLA. The Governor stated by the end of the week more than 10,000 contact tracers will have completed training and the state will have 10,170 contact tracers. Half of the tracers are county employees and half are state employees.

Governor Newsom closed the press conference by telling the audience these decisions are not made lightly, as the team is aware of the impact they have on peoples’ lives and their livelihood but are taken to protect people. He reminded everyone to wear a face covering, keep 6’ physical distance, and wash their hands.

Navigating the COVID-19 Dashboard

The Governor reminded the audience that 19 counties are on watch list now and he expects an additional four counties will be added to the list within the next 24 hours (find the counties being monitored here). The Governor is encouraging Californians to monitor their county’s progress and the state’s dashboard, which provides COVID-19 data updates daily (find statewide and county data here). Once in a dashboard report, you may click on individual counties (on the right column) to see county-specific testing and outcome data or hospitalization rates in each county (click here for case statistics); (click here for hospitalization and ICU data).

Executive Order

Last night, Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order (EO) (read more here) related to COVID-19 to help consumers, local, and state government continue doing business in novel ways. The order extends through September 30, the following: (read the EO here)

  • Authorizes local government to halt evictions for renters impacted by COVID-19
  • Continues DMV renewals for driver licenses, ID cards and other transactions by mail. 
  • Marriage licenses via video conferencing
  • Waives eligibility re-determination for Medi-Cal
  • Suspends face-to-face visits for eligibility for foster care
  • Extends videoconference assessments for older adults receiving in-home care
  • Broadens capability of counties to enroll people in CalWORKs programs
  • Extends payment for real estate license applications and renewals

Project Homekey
As noted in yesterday’s (June 30) report, the Governor announced that Project Room Key, the program started to shelter homeless Californians during the pandemic, is converting to a new program titled Project Home Key (read more here). Project Homekey allows counties to partner with the state to purchase and rehab a variety of housing options to provide permanent residential placement for homeless Californians. Counties will apply for grants from a $550 million fund provided in this year’s budget. The Governor stated the following about the program, “We’ve long dreamed about scooping up thousands of motel rooms and converting them into housing for our homeless neighbors,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “The terrible pandemic we’re facing has given us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy all these vacant properties, and we’re using federal stimulus money to do it. Hand in hand with our county partners, we are on the precipice of the most meaningful expansion of homeless housing in decades.” This is the most significant action taken by the state to end homelessness. 

Key milestones – COVID-19 numbers – as of today (7.1.20)

  • 6,090 deaths, up by 110 overnight or +1.8%
  • 232,657 positive cases-up +4.4% overnight; 
  • The state’s positivity rate increased again; the 7-day positivity rate is 6.4%; and the 14-day positivity rate is 6.0%
  • 4,254,176 tests conducted.
    • Latinos continue to have the highest percentage of positive cases at 55.7%; Caucasians 16.8%; Asians 6.6%, and Blacks 4.4%.
  • Hospitalizations for COVID positive is 5,077, up by 301 overnight or 6.3%; COVID suspected hospitalizations are 1,389; the 14-day rolling average for hospitalizations is 4,040.  
  • The majority of hospitalizations are in LA County 1,889; followed by Orange County 510; Riverside 405; San Diego 395; San Bernardino 393; Kern 151; San Joaquin 133; Fresno 116; Stanislaus 113; Alameda 111; Sacramento 98; Tulare 74; Ventura 74; Imperial 70; San Francisco 63; Santa Barbara 62.
  • ICU – COVID positive patients in ICU is 1,528 up by 63 overnight or 4.3%;
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