California Makes Deal To Double Coronavirus Testing, Get Results In 1-2 Days
Gov. Gavin Newsom today delivered an update on California's response to coronavirus and wildfires, including announcing a new deal to improve coronavirus testing. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference above.
NEW REOPENING GUIDELINES
New guidelines for reopening different economic sectors will be announced Friday, Newsom said. There are more announcements planned for Friday as well, he added.
"It is about time for us to now move into a new phase," Newsom said. This reopening will be more proscribed than what's been seen in the past, he said. There will be timelines, scope, and expectations announced Friday.
NEW CORONAVIRUS TESTING PARTNERSHIP
The governor announced a new coronavirus testing partnership with PerkinElmer, which he said will help get test results faster. The plan is to build a new lab in California with a full supply chain of all necessary test ingredients.
The demand for testing will likely increase as we approach flu season, Newsom said. The lab will add an additional 150,000 diagnostic tests per day, with guaranteed turnaround of 24-48 hours. Getting those tests back faster will also help the state make decisions in real time. When it takes 10-12 days to process a test, the tests are "quite useless," Newsom said.
Newsom said he didn't agree with the CDC's new guidance saying that people who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 may not need to be tested if they aren't exhibiting symptoms. He added that this will not influence California's policies when it comes to testing, as the state will continue to listen to experts.
The state will look to build its capacity as part of this contract over the next 8-10 weeks, Newsom said. These tests will alow for what Newsom described as a sustainable reopening.
The state is currently conducting an average of 100,000 tests per day, with an average turn-around of up to seven days. Newsom said that the heat and wildfires have brought down the testing from its peak above 132,000 per day.
The average cost of a diagnostic test is $150 to $200, he added. With the new lab, the cost comes down to:
- $47.99 each with 40,000 tests
- $37.78 each when 100,000 tests are being done
- $30.78 when the state hits 150,000 tests
The contract will cost the state $100 million initially, with a maximum cost of $1.4 billion, according to the Newsom administration. The goal: tens of thousands of new tests processing per day by November, with full capacity by March.
The state will make this partnership's contract public, Newsom said. It includes protections for the state. These include options for the state to opt out if PerkinElmer can't provide the latest technology, as well as guarantees that they will get the best price (including an option to opt out if the federal government introduces a plan to reduce testing costs), and the option to opt out if there are effective therapeutics or a cure for COVID-19. There are also upgrades for other types of tests, including flu, genomics, and pooled testing.
The partnership will drive down testing costs, improve reliability, provide a guaranteed turnaround time, protect essential workers and other at-risk groups, provide insurance against the flu season "twindemic," and break supply chain logjams, Newsom said. He added that this is what the federal government should have done a long time ago.
"If you are fiscally conservative, then you should be demanding the federal government use its marketing power to drive down the cost of tests," Newsom said.
The state will be responsible for logistics and billing. PerkinElmer has worked in the state for decades, Newsom said, and is well known for a genetic test for newborns.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
There were 6,004 new cases Tuesday, with an average of 5,753 cases per day over the past week. The positivity rate over the past week is 5.8%, while the two-week positivity rate is 6.1%. COVID-19 hospitalizations and ICU admissions are both continuing to drop — a 17% decrease in hospitalizations and an 18% decrease in ICU admissions over the past two weeks.
The number of counties on the monitoring list has dropped to 34 counties. Amador and Glenn were removed, while Tehama was added to the list.
There are 700 fires burning around the state, with 1.3 million acres burned. In the past 24 hours, there have been 423 lightning strikes and 50 new fires overnight — though those fires have all been suppressed as of today before noon, according to Newsom. There have been seven known deaths, with more likely to be discovered, and at least 1,690 structures destroyed. Significantly more destroyed structures are expected to be identified in the days to come.
California is continuing to deploy every possible resource to fight the wildfires, Newsom said. He described it as a historic wildfire season with more than 15,000 firefighters and 2,400 engines in use. Firefighters have come to help from as far as Kansas and Montana.
There are 3,889 evacuees in shelters statewide. Due to COVID-19, the state is aiming to put people in non-congregate shelters — 3,041 of those are in 124 hotels, helping to avoid mixing. There are 848 people in 14 shelters that are congregate environments, with more mixing of people.
The Moc Fire has burned 2,800 acres, with 60% contained as of today. Newsom said that the firefighters involved deserve credit for their heroism in battling this fire.
The SCU Fire is 25% contained, with 365,000 acres burned, Newsom said. The governor said he'd flown over the fire and seen flames as high as 10 stories. The August Fire is at 17% containment with 197,000 acres burned.
The LNU Fire is 33% contained with 357,000 acres burned. The CZU Fire in the Santa Cruz is now at 19% containment and 80,000 acres burned. Newsom noted that there has never been a fire of this size in that area, and said that it is an example of the effects of climate change.
The Sheep Fire is now at 3% containment and 29,000 acres burned. The governor also highlighted the SQF (previously Castle) Fire, which is at 0% containment with 18,000 acres burned. The state is pulling more resources from Southern California, as the Lake Fire is more under control.
The state has distributed 1.3 million N95 masks throughout the state due to the wildfires' impact on air quality, Newsom said.
When asked about his ex-wife Kimberly Guilfoyle speaking at the Republic National Convention and her negative comments about California, Newsom declined to comment.