A day after directing Californians to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Wednesday the state has ramped-up testing and partnered with commercial labs and hospitals. He’s also signed an executive order allowing for the commandeering of hotels and medical facilities, which could be needed to isolate and treat COVID-19 patients.
Newsom said testing in the state jumped from 100 tests on Monday to 1,200 on both Tuesday and Wednesday, noting about half of the tested samples were from Californians and half were from those outside the state.
The governor said California has 8,227 tests “that we believe we have the capacity to conduct” and is distributing those throughout state and local labs.
“We want to test more people,” Newsom said, adding the state is not yet at the point of conducting rapid, “drive-by” testing as done in South Korea, but hopes to get there.
Newsom said California now has four additional testing points, including hospitals at Stanford University, UCLA, UC San Diego and the City of Hope hospital. Those add to the 18 state labs and Quest commercial labs.
More testing capacity should come online next week with the addition of Kaiser hospitals along with those at UC Davis and UC Irvine, Newsom said.
The governor said his advisory to cancel non-essential gatherings of 250 or more, such as concerts and sporting events, could be extended beyond this month and is now an executive order.
Casinos, card rooms, theaters and large parks like Disneyland are currently excluded from these requirements.
“It’s decisions, not conditions, that will determine our fate and future as it relates to COVID-19,” he said.
He continued: “Clearly as it relates to social distancing, with these non-essential events, this is where we need to go next to slow down the spread, to get through the peak and to get through the next few months so we don’t overwhelm our health care delivery system.”
Newsom also reiterated that schools are essential gatherings and that the state will not be requiring them to close.
Here’s what else Newsom’s executive order does:
- Removes waiting period for unemployment and disability insurance for Californians who lose work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak
- Readies state to commandeer hotels & medical facilities to isolate & treat COVID-19 patients
- Allows local and state legislative bodies to hold meetings via conference calls while still meeting state transparency requirements
The full executive order can be found here.
He and President Trump have had a history of conflict throughout Newsom’s time as governor, but he said Thursday that he and Trump have been working together well on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and that he plans to continue that.
“I’m working to solve problems, not create problems,” he said.
It is too early to determine how the coronavirus will impact California’s economy and the state’s treasury, but there will likely be some kind of impact, according to Newsom.
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