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Gov. Newsom: President Trump Promises Hundreds Of Thousands More Coronavirus Testing Swabs For California

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In Gov. Gavin Newsom's daily update on California's response to the coronavirus, he provided updates on the six factors the state is looking at as it decides when to start easing stay-at-home restrictions, particularly around testing and tracing. He also said President Donald Trump had just directly promised him significant numbers of swabs over the next few weeks. You can read highlights below or watch the press conference above.

FIGURING OUT WHEN WE CAN LIFT RESTRICTIONS

The governor said he can't give a specific date for lifting restrictions, but that the state could provide updates on the six indicators being monitored. Newsom noted that essential scheduled surgeries are beginning to be scheduled as part of the shift in the state's restrictions. But he said that lifting restrictions is like a dimmer switch that may need to be lowered once more, with restrictions returning.

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Across California, the state has asked county coroners to look more deeply into how many people may have previously died from the coronavirus before the disease was known, Newsom said. The state has asked for officials to look at deaths going back to December, helping to create a better understanding of the disease's spread.

Newsom said the "vast majority" of calls the state is receiving from the public are urging caution as California looks at when to loosen stay-at-home restrictions, as opposed to those asking for the state to loosen restrictions quickly.


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Newsom later addressed the issue of timing on lifting restrictions on our newsroom’s public affairs show, AirTalk With Larry Mantle on KPCC.

"At the end of the day, it’s all about building trust, and our capacity to meet this moment, to meet this disease head on is at the speed of trust,” he said. He added that having the state come together and abide by stay-at-home orders allowed him to be able to lift certain restrictions, like allowing essential surgeries.

"But it is analogous, to use a metaphor, of skydiving," he said. "You open up your parachute and now you're slowing down — that doesn't mean you take the parachute off before you land.”

INCREASING TESTING CAPACITY

Testing and tracing are "foundational" in being able to reopen public recreation, Newsom said. More than 465,000 Californians have been tested so far, but that number is inadequate to modify stay-at-home orders, the governor said.

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The state is currently at 16,000 tests per day, up from 2,000/day at the end of March, with a goal to get to 25,000 tests per day by the end of this month.

The state's medium-term goal is to get to at least 60,000 tests per day. It wants to be able to provide 25,000 tests per day for essential workers, with at least another 35,000 per day for others, California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said.

Eventually the state hopes to get far beyond the 60,000 tests per day figure.

There are currently more than 600 testing sites, with 251 core testing sites, Newsom said. About half the sites said they need more swabs, while others need what's used to send the swabs in for testing. The diagnostic side of testing is less stressed, according to Newsom.

The governor said he spoke with Trump less than an hour before his briefing, with the president promising that the state will be able to get a minimum of 100,000 swabs this week, 250,000 swabs the week after, and significantly more after that.

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While it would be ideal for everyone to be able to be tested, Newsom said he wants to make sure that testing is available in every area, including rural and remote parts of the state, as well as urban centers servicing black and brown communities. Newsom announced 86 new testing sites meant to address "testing deserts," with the state using a heat map to track these areas.

The state has made a deal with a private company to provide 1.5 million antibody tests, but Newsom noted that there are still concerns about those tests.

TESTING AND TRACING METRICS

There are four "workstreams" for the state's testing/tracing indicator, Ghaly said, providing key metrics for each.

  • Accelerate equitable COVID-19 testing

Key metrics:

- Deploy 25,000 tests per day by April 30
- Establish 80-100 new testing sites
- Identify 5 new high throughput sites

  • Establish contact tracing workforce

- Issue survey to counties- Develop statewide training academy
- Train 10,000 Public Health Connectors

  • Develop isolation and quarantine protocols and supports

- Develop guidelines for isolation- Identify regional alternate isolation sites
- Build private-public partnerships to support those who isolate

  • Deploy data management system and tools

- Publish a symptom-check app- Deploy data management platform
- Establish data dashboard for the public

CONTACT TRACING

The state is looking at training 10,000 staff to work on tracking and tracing patients and their contacts, Newsom said, including re-training current state workers.

Looking at the range of those with coronavirus who have been hospitalized and in ICU beds, the numbers are stable enough that there is confidence in moving forward, Ghaly said.

Ghaly went over what contact tracing is and why it's important — the ability to track the contacts of those with coronavirus helps to suppress the spread of the virus, avoid outbreaks, maintain health care capacity, and modify the stay-at-home order, Ghaly said.

Gov. Newsom spoke with AirTalk about the timeframe for getting 10,000 staff trained, noting that the state had a "wonderful backbone" of tracing expertise in place in county hospitals. Those staff would be able to help set up an online training portal for additional personnel to get up to speed, he said.

“We’re talking over the course of a number of weeks to really see those numbers take shape,” he said. “I don't want to over-promise in this space, but we have been able to get a census of possible workers, and we have confidence in that 10,000 number in a relatively short period of time.”

LATEST CALIFORNIA CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

The state's current coronavirus numbers, particularly hospitalizations and the number in ICU beds, are showing stability, Newsom said.

Yesterday, 86 Californians died from coronavirus, Newsom said — a 6.8% increase over the previous day. But he added that there's been a modest decrease in hospitalizations, down 0.2%, while ICU numbers went down 1.8%.

MORE CORONAVIRUS UPDATES

Last week, the state disbursed $2 billion in unemployment claims to help those directly affected by COVID-19, Newsom said.

You can listen to more details about Gov. Newsom's remarks in his interview with AirTalk below.

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