COVID-19 State Policy Update 07.22.20

CA Capitol building

Today, Wednesday, July 22, 2020, Governor Newsom provided a live update on the COVID-19 pandemic from a state warehouse in West Sacramento to speak specifically about PPE and the state’s efforts to secure enough PPE to get the state safely through this first wave of COVID-19 and through the fall when experts expect a second wave of the virus to hit. 

The Governor began with the Key Milestones, which are listed below. He noted the state has reached two significant milestones: first the state has surpassed New York with the total number of cases exceeding 400,000. He also reminded the audience that while this is a significant number, California is the largest and most populous state—the equivalent of 21 states. The total number of cases is not the highest per capita. Second, the state reported the largest number of positive cases overnight with over 12,800 new cases. Even more significant, he noted, is the 7-day positivity rate, which has climbed to 7.6% and is of great concern. The Governor reminded the audience that simply testing more people and recording more positive cases is not the most important indicator of how the state is doing—it is the positivity rate that matters, especially the 7-day rate. “The positivity rate is a sober reminder of why we must take the mask mandate and moving activities outdoors seriously, as now there are 35 counties on the state’s Monitoring List”(more about the Monitoring List here).

The Governor reminded the audience the state recorded one of the very first cases of COVID-19 and was the first state to issue a mandated stay-at-home-order, which allowed the state to buy time to prepare the state’s hospital system, secure enough PPE, and secure more human capital to meet the demands of a disease surge. He noted the state’s 40 million residents took the mandate seriously and, as a result, the state succeeded in bending the virus curve downward and was also able to prepare for a future surge. The state was poised to meet the challenge of the virus. The Governor stated in the absence of a national PPE strategy, the state of California moved forward with its own strategy and has succeeded in securing and distributing hundreds of millions of procedure and N-95 masks. “As I’ve stated before, when we began this process it was referred to as the Wild Wild West, as states competed for PPE and attempted to out-bid each other for these resources. We chose to meet the moment, be resourceful, and announced a strategy to develop new and larger contracts with BYD (the largest manufacturer of PPE) for N-95 masks and procedure masks. We were able to secure 193 million procedure masks and 146 million N-95 masks, plus another 150 million more.” 

The Governor told the audience the state made big and bold decisions in procuring PPE and that continues today, as he announced a new bridge contract worth $316 million with BYD for another 120 N-95 million procedure masks and 300 million surgical masks. “We are releasing an RFP (Request for Proposal) to do an even larger contract to get the price down, as we enter a more competitive period over the next few monthsWe expect large companies, such as 3M, Honeywell, and other California-based companies entering the market that can produce the numbers needed to meet our state’s needs.”

The Governor reminded the audience that just a couple of months ago he announced a partnership with the California Manufacturing and Technology Association (CMTA) and the Safelymakingcalifornia.com site. Today, more than 400 California-based manufacturers are providing over 435 different supply needs in California. He offered an example of a company in Santa Clara that retooled their manufacturing from making conference signage to producing N-95 masks and have committed to produce 40 million N-95 masks for the state’s inventory in August. The Governor noted these are encouraging signs, as he wants to see more jobs coming to California, “as the state pursues more PPE in greater numbers for California, the nation, and the world. This is the fruits of our partnership with the CMTA. We hope they are among other companies like 3M and Honeywell to compete for lower prices.”

The Governor disclosed a conversation with the CEO of Honeywell about opening a California-based manufacturing facility, which would bring upwards of 1,000 jobs to this state. He noted he is hopeful that this will develop into a site in California. He stated his goal today was to give everyone a sense of how far the state has come since the pandemic started in securing the PPE needed to meet the needs of essential front-line workers from healthcare to grocers and schools.  The effort is focused on diversifying the state’s supply chain by sourcing multiple suppliers for PPE. 3M committed to drawing down 12.4 million N-95 masks. California made that commitment many months ago, but only 290,000 of the masks have been delivered. His point is that we need more manufacturers to meet the scale of this moment and the amount of PPE needed on an ongoing basis. To date, he noted, the state has distributed 17 million masks to other states that were in crisis, as their COVID-19 case numbers grew, but they lacked enough PPE. Because California procures PPE on the scale that it does, we are able to negotiate lower prices for masks. He thanked Bob Fenton, FEMA’s Region 9 Administrator for his leadership and support, as FEMA pays 75% of the PPE cost. The Governor noted that the partnership with FEMA has allowed California to “be big and bold and secure and move more PPE inventory and be more successful with this than any other state. I must thank the team at the Office of Emergency Services and the Legislature for their work and support in this area, as we move forward with this bridge contract.” The Governor also thanked the employees at the state warehouse, noting the are the silent heroes we don’t see but work behind the scenes moving inventory up and down the state. 

The Governor went on to discuss the issue of PPE shortages in some hospitals. He noted that he has heard from some medical professionals and labor representatives that anecdotally there are healthcare settings where some nurses are only seeing 2-3 masks per week. He stated he is aware there are some issues but wanted to be clear that the state does not distribute PPE to individual locations, but this is still an unacceptable situation and getting PPE to front-line workers must be a priority. He stated the state counts on the partnerships that have been established to make sure PPE is distributed appropriately; however, he is aware “we have a responsibility to accelerate more aggressive protocols for accountability and transparency in this space.”

Conclusion

The Governor summarized the actions of the past few months, including the stay-at-home order, securing alternative hospital assets, major contracts for PPE, more medical staff, development and launch of culturally competent messages to educate Californians, guidance for county variances to re-open the state’s economy, and guidance to re-open schools safely to protect children, teachers, and other education staff. He noted there have been challenges, since re-opening the economy.  “Unfortunately,” the Governor stated, “as we began to re-open the economy across the state and people started mixing with friends, extended family, and others, we began to see our disease curve bend upwardNow, we are faced with increasing positive case numbers and a positivity rate that is, once again, on the rise. We must take this seriously and wear a mask. I applaud the President for now wearing a mask and helping send the right message. We will not let off one day, as we monitor the counties on the Monitoring List and provide technical assistance to help them get off of the list.”

The Governor noted he is aware there are still some counties, businesses, and people who are thumbing their nose at the mask mandate and, as a result, we are enforcing the mandate in some areas where we have seen issues. He stated it is important we are more aware of our own personal behaviors and more responsible as it relates to our collective efforts, segment by segment, industry by industry, and county by county. He then thanked Californians for their intentionality, for their recognition of their own power and potency to bend the curve, just as they did the first time. He stated, “We can do this again, if we embrace the behaviors that make the difference: wear a mask, wash your hands, keep six feet away from others, and avoid mixing outside of your household.”  

Q&A

The first question focused on the homeless issue and comments by the Mayor of Oakland that she worries about the long-term and whether the emergency measures put into place can extend beyond the pandemic to help solve the state’s homeless crisis. The Governor responded that Oakland is going to benefit from the $600 million available for Operation Homekey. He did note that some of the state and federal orders expire next week, such as the $600 federal unemployment benefit. He stated he expects to make an announcement on Friday regarding these issues.

Another reporter asked the Governor if he had any advice for parents, especially essential workers who need help with childcare. The Governor stated the state has provided additional assistance for essential workers by providing more childcare support. He also noted he is aware there is still a digital divide issue and while the state has made great strides in closing the digital divide through public and private partnerships, there is still work to be done here, which is why there is $5.3 billion in the state budget to address learning loss, English learners, special needs students, and the digital divide.

One reporter asked why PPE was sent to other states when we have some medical workers who do not have enough PPE. The Governor stated the PPE went to other states because they were part of our Western States Collective and were in a crisis state and needed PPE. The state has enough inventory to distribute—the issue that remains is distribution from the hospital system to individual locations. 

The final question was a clarification on the number of ICU beds in California. The Governor responded with the ICU and NICU bed count for the state and how many are occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The Governor ended the press conference by reminding the audience to wear masks, wash their hands, keep 6’ distance, and avoid mixing with people outside of their household.

Guidance for Schools

The Guide for Schools is published on the Department of Public Health website (read more here). On July 17, 2020, updated guidance was released for childcare, day camps, and schools (read more here).

Key milestones and trends – COVID-19 numbers – as of today (7.22.20)

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.

·  7,870 deaths, up by 115 overnight or +1.5%; 14-day total 1,308 up 19.9%

·  413,576 positive cases - up by 12,807 or +3.2%; 14-day total 124,108 up by 42.9%.

·  The state’s positivity rate increased once again; the 7-day positivity rate is 7.6%; the 14-day positivity rate is 7.4%.

·  6,664,419 tests conducted; 1-day total 127,487 up by 2.0%; 14-day up 1,668,224 or 33.4%.

o Latinos continue to have the highest percentage of positive cases at 56%; Caucasians 18%; Asians 6%, and Blacks 4%.

·  Hospitalizations for COVID positive is 7,170 up by 79 or 1.1%; 14-day rolling average is 6,682. Suspected patients with COVID-19 is 1,650, up by 60 or + 3.8%; 14-day rolling average is 1,568.

o The majority of hospitalizations are in LA County 2,210; followed by Orange County 699; San Bernardino 606; Riverside 528; San Diego 401; Fresno 296; Kern 280; Stanislaus 221; San Joaquin 216; Sacramento 213; Alameda 176; Santa Clara 170; Contra Costa 101.

·  ICU – COVID positive patients in ICU is 2,058 up by 52 or 2.6%; the 14-day rolling average is 1,890. The number of suspected COVID-19 in ICU is 226 up by 6 or 2.7%. Available beds statewide is 3,668.

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Highlights