Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered a press conference updating California’s response to COVID-19. It comes ahead of the Christmas holiday and as the vaccine has started to be rolled out. Watch the full press conference above or read highlights below.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
The seven-day COVID-19 new case average is 43,901 per day. There were 37,892 new cases in the most recent 24-hour reporting period. Newsom said that it’s too early to tell if the rate of spread is starting to slow, and warned not to read too much into weekend numbers because of lags in reporting data.
There were 83 deaths from COVID-19 yesterday, with an average of 233 deaths per day over the past week. There were 2,741 deaths in California over the past two weeks from COVID-19.
The state’s positivity rate is 12% over the past two weeks — that’s up 3.3% over the past two weeks. COVID-19-positive hospitalizations are up 63% over the past two weeks, with 17,190 currently hospitalized, while ICU COVID-19 admissions are up 51% over the last two weeks.
Southern California continues to have 0% ICU capacity, which means the region is relying on its surge capacity, which is approximately 20% additional capacity — the state has 2.5% capacity overall. Northern California has 28.7% available ICU capacity, Greater Sacramento has 16.2%, the Bay Area has 13.7%, and the San Joaquin Valley has 0%.
GOV. NEWSOM QUARANTINING
The governor noted that he was delivering Monday’s press conference from home as he was in another 10-day COVID-19 quarantine. He is being kept separate from his family in a small room apart from his wife and their four children, and will be quarantined through Christmas. Newsom said that he will be working.
It’s the second time Newsom has had to quarantine during this pandemic. Newsom was exposed to a close contact who tested positive for COVID-19, but he has continued to test negative for the virus.
STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS LIKELY TO BE EXTENDED
Right now, 98% of the state is under a stay-at-home order, including Southern California. Those orders will likely be extended, Newsom said — the Southern California order is currently set to expire Dec. 30, but that’s not likely to happen. Current projections don’t show any regions likely being relieved from these orders, California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.
The decisions around whether to lift stay-at-home orders will be based on projections four weeks forward from the current dates those orders are set to expire, Ghaly said. Factors the state is considering include current ICU capacity, the seven-day average of new cases, and transmission rates and how fast they are accelerating or decelerating.
CALIFORNIA NOT LOOKING TO BRING BACK USNS MERCY HOSPITAL SHIP, IS LOOKING FOR MORE STAFF
Newsom stressed the continued difficulties with health care staffing. The state has requested more federal staff to aid California as well.
The state isn’t currently seeking to have the Mercy hospital ship come back to California, but Newsom said that the state is pursuing the type of staff that ships like the Mercy use.
FEWER PFIZER VACCINE DOSES COMING
Newsom said that 21 of the 30 sites set to receive vaccine doses from Moderna have started to receive them. So far, the state has received 110,000 of the 672,000 doses scheduled to come from Moderna.
The Moderna vaccine is easier to store, Newsom said, adding that it was the equivalent of freezer storage, rather than the ultra-low temperatures needed for the Pfizer vaccine. That easier storage means that the Moderna vaccine will be more accessible in rural California.
There were 70,258 doses of vaccine administered in the first week. There are 560,625 doses received so far from Pfizer, with 327,600 received in the first allocation.
The second allocation is anticipated to be 233,025 doses — 40% below the amount originally anticipated, Newsom said, but he thanked the federal government for clarifying the reasons for the miscommunication with the state and praised everyone working with Operation Warp Speed. The Pfizer vaccine has arrived in 50 locations, Newsom said.
WHO GETS VACCINATED NEXT?
The state’s vaccine drafting guidelines workgroup is meeting today. The Community Vaccine Advisory Committee wll hold a public meeting on Wednesday from 2-4 p.m., which you can watch at COVID19.ca.gov.
WHAT CALIFORNIA GETS FROM THE FEDERAL COVID-19 RELIEF BILL
Newsom expressed his appreciation for the federal government’s COVID-19 relief bill, worth a total of $900 billion. Newsom said that the government will need to do more in the future.
In addition to the $600 in direct stimulus checks, which includes approximately $17 billion for Californians, it also includes $300 per week for 11 weeks of unemployment, which is expected to be approximately $20 billion for Californians.
It has also extended CARES Act funding until the end of December 2021. There was $15.3 billion for California in the CARES Act.
The new bill has $325 billion in small business relief, which includes $284 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program.
Some of the other funding in the bill includes:
- $25 billion in rental assistance, with about $2 billion for California
- $69 billion for testing, tracing, and vaccines; about $1.3 billion for California
- $82 billion for education; about $8.5 billion for California
- $10 billion for childcare; about $1 billion for California
- $7 billion in broadband support, including $3.2 billion for low-income families
- $45 billion for the transportation sextor; about $2 billion for California
- $26 billion for nutrition and agricultural assistance, including $13 billion to increase SNAP benefits
The state will also have additional small business support in the proposed budget Newsom is set to put forward in the new year.
WATCHING FOR NEW COVID STRAIN FROM UNITED KINGDOM
Gov. Newsom said that the state has been having conversations with airlines and other stakeholders throughout the state about potential quarantine protocols for visitors from the United Kingdom. Newsom said that he hopes the federal government takes action in this area, but that the state will take action in the absence of that.
The state’s SARS-CoV-2 Whole Genome Sequencing Initiative tests between 5,000 and 10,000 samples per day looking for any new strains in California. There is no evidence yet of this strain arriving in California, according to Newsom. However, there have been reports in South Africa and in other European countries near the U.K.
Dr. Ghaly described this variant as “more sticky” than the COVID-19 we’ve seen before, which seems to bind and enter cells easier than the virus seen in California and the rest of the country. An exposure to someone with the new strain may mean you’re more likely to be infected — “that’s why we’re worried,” Ghaly said. It doesn’t seem to make people sicker, but the increased ease of transmission is of concern, according to Dr. Ghaly.
CALIFORNIA EXPOSURE NOTIFICATION APP
So far, 7.35 million people have activated COVID-19 exposure notifications on their phones. Newsom encouraged others to sign up, either by turning on exposure notifications in iPhone settings, or downloading the CA Notify app on Android phones from the Google Play store.
SOME HOSPITAL CAPACITIES MAY BE EXCEEDED BY END OF THE MONTH
Ghaly reminded viewers that about 12% of current cases will be hospitalized in 12 days, and about 12% of those will need to enter the ICU. Some hospitals may exceed even their current surge capacity, according to current projections. Some hospitals may also exceed their normal hospital capacity by the end of the month or early January, Ghaly said.
CRISIS PLANNING FOR RATIONING CARE
While hospitals are preparing for the potential need to ration care due to the high numbers of COVID-19 cases and patients, Dr. Ghaly said that the state is working to help avoid the need for those plans to go into effect.
ROSE BOWL GAME NOT HAPPENING IN PASADENA THIS YEAR
Newsom said that while he’s a huge sports fan and loves the Rose Bowl, the state couldn’t make exceptions to allow the Jan. 1 game to go forward with Southern California at 0% ICU capacity.
MORE PRESS CONFERENCES THIS WEEK
Newsom said that he will be providing further updates on both Tuesday and Wednesday, but will not be delivering an update on Christmas.