COVID-19 - State Policy Update 08.10.20

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TodayMonday, August 10, 2020, Governor Newsom provided a live update on the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor focused on the backlog case data issue, which dominated Dr. Ghaly’s presentations at the end of last week; however, he began his presentation addressing the executive orders the President signed, which, as the Governor noted, were designed to provide some financial relief for Americans who are unemployed and those who face eviction.

Governor Newsom told the audience he and his administration have analyzed the federal proposal and found the costs are not reasonable. The Governor explained that while the State of California has been clear with federal leadership regarding the need for additional stimulus support, the package the President put forward is not reasonable and the costs simply too high. “As a consequence, the President put through executive orders that do not meet the totality of requests from Governors of all political stripes. If California picks up 25% of the new proposed amount of $400, the cost to the state would be $700 million per week.”

The Governor noted that in reference to the CARES Act money and the possibility of reallocating any of those funds, the funds are already allocated for the pandemic response, including schools, health, and social programs. “The state cannot shoulder this burden without cutting important services or further burdening businesses and individuals. This would lead to cutting $8 billion in services.”  Governor Newsom told the audience the state has allocated 75% of the CARES Act funding, which totaled $15 billion. He noted the $15 billion was foundational in helping in the state’s ability to address the most vexing issues. “The state simply does not have $700 million in identified resources to be reconstituted and this would create a burden California could not afford to recover from.”

According to the Administration’s analysis, the Federal proposal would result in delayed unemployment checks for those with the greatest need. The proposed program will:

  • Require certification for lost work due to COVID-19.
  • Require extensive re-programming of the state-run program.
  • Benefits are limited to those who receive $100 or more per week.

According to the Administration’s analysis, “businesses will eventually pay these costs, but the federal government can and must provide up-front cash. We’re going to need the federal government to provide support for the 25% or we are in peril of making false commitments and false promises to millions of Californians that we simply cannot meet.”

Evictions

The Governor went on to discuss the issue of evictions and began by summarizing the actions he has taken since his first Executive Order to protect renters and landlords, signed March 16, 2020. He noted his second Executive Order was signed March 27, 2020 and provided statewide protections and barred law enforcement from enforcing evictions. He also reminded the audience that his Executive Orders were codified by the Judicial Council on April 6, 2020. The state then extended local government authority to provide these protections through September 30, 2020. Governor Newsom also stated that work continues in the current Legislative session to provide additional clarification and protections for renters and landlords before the current protections expire. He noted the state needs something much more specific and more directed.

Fifty percent of Californians live in jurisdictions that have some sort of moratoria in place, which includes 80 cities in 10 counties, but the Governor noted this is not enough to protect the many Californians who need relief. The Governor also stated three-quarters of renters that have fallen behind on rent are Black or Latino (9.5% Black and 62% Latino). the Governor stated he believes the state has been consistent in attempting to address disparities in healthcare related to race and ethnicity but needs to do more to help vulnerable renters and landlords.

Philanthropy

The Governor went on to discuss new opportunities secured through a $63 million-dollar  grant provided by Kaiser Permanente to provide community-based supports and services, specifically related to contact tracing and supporting essential workers who test positive. An additional $18.8 million from Philanthropic partners to support local public health efforts, such as assistance with rent, utilities, food, and other expenses. Currently, 60% of positive cases are among the Latino population.

The Numbers and CalREDIE

The Governor went on to address the issues surrounding the backlog of cases and data reported to the state regarding positive cases. He noted the state’s large-scale IT systems are unable to meet California’s needs, even the day-to-day needs of average Californians. He stated there are efforts to improve the state’s IT system and the Administration has brought in experts to fix the state’s IT issues.

Governor Newsom introduced Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency. Dr. Ghaly stated he would like to build on the comments he made last Friday, August 7, 2020, regarding issues related the backlog of 295,000 cases and inaccuracy in reporting, due to ongoing IT issues. First Dr. Ghaly stated there is a change in leadership with the resignation of Dr. Sonia Angell, the former Director of the State Department of Public Health. He thanked Dr. Angell for her stewardship and leadership over the past seven months, as she guided the Department of Public Health through the early months of the pandemic. He noted two new leaders have been brought in to lead the efforts. Dr. Erica Pan, former head of Public Health for Alameda County, was named the Interim Director of the CA Department of Public Health and Sandra Shewry former Vice President for the California Healthcare Foundation.

Dr. Ghaly noted he had promised the audience last Friday, August 7, that the state would get through the nearly 300,000 backlogged cases over the weekend and was pleased to announce the state succeeded in updating the records. He also told the audience they are in the process of:

  • Reviewing certificates to make sure data flow forward
  • Making sure they shore up systems by adding capacity
  • Adding system capacity to better handle record volume
  • Augmenting support and oversight to ensure data are timely and of high quality
  • Initiating efforts to create a new laboratory reporting system
  • Moving forward to secure large IT procurement with urgency but also with thoughtful management.

Dr. Ghaly stated the cases from the backlog are now ready for local counties to process, which includes demographic and employment data to help with contact tracing. The cases are then sent back to the state and become part of the state’s permanent records.

Governor Newsom returned to the podium and noted that over the next 48-72 hours, the state expects to receive the records back from the counties. He also stated he does not expect a significant change to the state’s overall numbers or the County Monitoring List, once the backlogged cases are recorded. The Governor noted that with the backlog addressed and the numbers adjusted (there are still some adjustments expected, but no big surprises) it’s time to move forward to keep working on containing the virus. The Governor noted the disease trend lines are looking favorable , as they continue to trend downward. He stated there is an acceleration in the decline of the numbers; however, it does not reflect what might be occurring in some counties, such as Imperial where the case numbers are higher.

The Governor also addressed the issue of enforcement of the mask mandate, in noting he was pleased to see some counties are taking action to enforce the mask mandate, as research has proven compliance with face coverings, social distancing, and avoiding social gatherings does help stop the spread of the disease. The Governor wrapped up his comments by stating he expects to have more announcements in the coming days and encouraged everyone to continue wearing face coverings, maintaining social distance, and avoid mixing beyond their own household.

State Monitoring List

There are 38 counties on the Monitoring List, which represents approximately 95% of the state’s population (more about the Monitoring List here). He told the audience there are more sectorial restrictions in these counties, especially as it relates to opening the schools. Yesterday, the Governor stated the goal is to have these counties off of the Monitoring List for two weeks before considering modifications to guidelines. The requirement to be off of the Monitoring List for 14-days is foundational to considering modifications to distance learning.

Guidance for Schools

On August 7, 2020, the California Department of Public Health released guidance for higher education, (read more here).

Q&A

The majority of media questions focused on the sudden resignation of Dr. Sonia Angell and the backlog of cases. The Governor told reporters he has provided as much information as he is willing and able to provide regarding Dr. Angell’s resignation and again reinforced his appreciation for her leadership and her hard work on behalf of the people of California. He also stated the backlog has been addressed and members of his team are working on updating the state’s beleaguered IT system.

Key milestones and trends COVID-19 numbers – as of today (8/10/20)

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.

·  10,359 deaths, up by 66 overnight or +0.6%; 7-day avg 139; 14-day average 137; Weekly change up 3%.

·  561,911 positive cases - up by 7,751 or +1.4%; 7-day avg. 6,716; 14-day total 7,240 weekly change down 13.5%. The 7-day positivity rate is 5.8%; the 14-day positivity rate is 6.0%.

·  8,998,353 tests conducted; 1-day total 172,234 up by 2%; 14-day up 1,701,775 or 23.3%.

o Latinos continue to have the highest percentage of positive cases at 59%; Caucasians 17%; Asians 5%, and Blacks 4%.

·  Hospitalizations for COVID positive is 5,636 down by 110 or 1.9%; 14-day rolling average is 6,376.

o The majority of hospitalizations are in LA County 1,514, followed by Orange County 487; San Bernardino 485; Riverside 373; Fresno 287; San Diego 267; Sacramento 263; Kern 219; Stanislaus 200; Santa Clara 176; San Joaquin 167; Alameda 163.

·  ICU – COVID positive patients in ICU is 1,731 down by 137 or 7.3%; the 14-day rolling average is 1,914.

 

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