Gov. Newsom: California 'A Week Or Two' From Loosening Stay-At-Home Orders; Farm/Food Bank Assistance Program Announced
The governor said that California is a week or two away from modifying its stay-at-home orders, as long as coronavirus numbers remain stable. This follows Gov. Gavin Newsom laying out the four phases for loosening California stay-at-home restrictions yesterday. Read highlights below or watch the video above.
LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS
There were 78 coronavirus-related deaths in California today, Newsom said — while still down from last week's peak, the number of deaths has risen each day this week. The number of patients hospitalized with coronavirus went up 1.2%, while the number of patients in ICU beds increased 0.4%. Newsom said these numbers are still within the range of stability, though they still want to see those numbers moving down.
"I can't impress upon folks more that, just because we're at a stage of exhaustion and frustration, and a little bit of cabin fever, that this virus [is] behind us — it simply is not," Newsom said. "Take the medical professionals' word for it. We can undo our progress in a very short period of time. What's taken us almost two months to produce, in terms of getting stable numbers, could be unwound in just a week or two. Why put ourselves in that position when we are just a week or two away from significant modifications on our stay-at-home order?"
The state managed to hit its goal of conducting more than 25,000 tests per day by the end of the month yesterday, though the average has been just over 20,000 per day, Newsom said. There have been 603,000 coronavirus tests conducted so far in California.
ORANGE COUNTY SUPERVISOR MAKES SURPRISE PHONE APPEARANCE
A journalist from Good Day L.A., asking a question by phone, said that she was interviewing Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner and put him on the line as well during her question, following Orange County supervisors adopting their own set of guidelines on when businesses can reopen.
"The Orange County order satisfies Orange County — the sheriff will not come and ticket you — but the state orders and any local city orders remain in place," Wagner said to the governor.
The governor also expressed concern about neighboring L.A. and San Diego counties being number 1 and 2 in hospitalizations.
SUPPORTING FARMERS AND FOOD BANKS
The governor announced a new initiative to help farmers and food banks, with food not being bought from farms and people in need for food from food banks. The program is designed to connect farmers and ranchers with food banks to help them provide food to those in need, while supporting farmers and farmworkers as well. It keeps food from being thrown away by farms, and provides farmers with a 15% tax credit.
The program sends food boxes that can provide familes with food for three to four days, Newsom said.
The farm/food bank program is aiming to provide 21 million pounds from farms to food banks every month, and they're hoping to extend the program through the end of the year, Newsom said. The program is made possible through parternships with the federal government and philanthropy, according to the governor.
Since March 12, 3.7 million Californians have applied for unemployment, Newsom said. So far, more than $6 billion in benefits have been distributed, including $1.2 billion distributed yesterday, he added.
There was a spike in applications Tuesday, Newsom said, including those applying for the PUA pandemic assistance program that opened yesterday that gives unemployment assistance to freelance/gig workers. A few months ago, there were 2,500 applications per day for unemployment in California — yesterday, that was 235,000 applicants, Newsom said.
PAYING RESTAURANTS TO DELIVER MEALS TO SENIORS
Newsom provided an update on government paying restaurants to deliver meals to seniors, noting that it is up to cities to work with the restaurants and get them set up. He noted that Los Angeles is one of the cities already taking the lead in this area.
The CalFresh program previously didn't allow participants to purchase groceries online, but the federal government has given California a waiver allowing CalFresh participants to buy groceries online, Newsom said. Currently, the 2.2 million households in the program can purchase groceries online from Amazon and Walmart.
Another waiver is making up to $1.4 billion from the CARES Act available to provide meals for the 3.8 million children eligible for reduced-cost or free meals that had been provided by schools, Newsom said, with an additional $365 each available under the pandemic EBT program to help those families.
The state has acquired 12,603 rooms for the homeless so far as part of its coronavirus response through Project Roomkey, Newsom said.
Newsom said that more details on testing and contact tracing will be announced Thursday.