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California Gov. Newsom: Updates On Counties' Coronavirus Tiers Coming Tuesday

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Gov. Gavin Newsom delivered an update on California's response to wildfires, coronavirus, and unemployment system updates. You can read highlights below or watch the full press conference video above.

LATEST CORONAVIRUS NUMBERS

There were 3,294 new COVID-19 cases, with a seven-day average of 3,417 new cases per day. The seven-day daily test average has increased to 123,799 tests per day, closer to the amount of testing being done before the recent large wildfires. The positivity rate is averaging 3.1% over a 14-day period, and 2.8% over the past week.

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There has been a 23% decrease in hospitalizations and a 25% decrease in COVID-19-positive ICU admissions over the past two weeks.

California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly will announce updates on where different counties stand in the color-coded reopening tiers on Tuesday. Newsom said that he would be talking in the next few days about getting a flu shot to help the state avoid the double impact of COVID-19 and the seasonal flu.

It was also take another 1-2 weeks to fully see the effect of Labor Day on California's COVID-19 numbers, Newsom said. A new PSA featuring Oscar the Grouch and Elmo to promote wearing masks was also announced.

LATEST WILDFIRE NUMBERS

As of now, there are 7,982 fires this year that have burned 3.6 million acres, compared with 5,316 fires and 157,000 acres burned at the same time last year.

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The state is currently dealing with 27 major fires and fire complexes, with 23,154 people remaining evcuated. There have been more than 6,400 structures destroyed, with at least 26 deaths — there is also a large number of damaged structures. More than 19,000 firefighters are fighting these fires, with 2,400 engines in use.

Newsom addressed a number of fires, including the Bobcat Fire in L.A. County which is currently 15% contained, with 105,000 acres burned. He also noted that the El Dorado Fire in San Bernardino County's containment has gone down slightly, with 59% contained and 23,000 acres burned, down 1% from last week.

UPDATING CALIFORNIA'S UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEMS

Newsom provided an update on the EDD strike team that has been looking at short, medium, and long-term recommendations and solutions to help with the state's unemployment systems.

"As a nation, we have a huge IT problem. As a nation, we must do what California and I would argue municipalities must do, and that is completely reimagine our approach to large-scale IT procurement," Newsom said.

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On Saturday, EDD began a two-week "reset period" to implement new automatic ID verification software, redeploy experienced staff to process claims and work through the oldest and most complex claims, and new staff will focus on mail, email, and outbound phone calls.

The new software will automatically process 90% of new claims, Newsom said. To help fight fraud, there will be requirements such as taking and submitting selfies.

The state's goals include reducing and preventing backlog growth over the next 90-100 days, as well as making online access to unemployment benefits easier and simpler, according to Newsom. This will fast-track the process for people applying for the first time, Newsom said, and minimize delays in processing. EDD Director Sharon Hilliard said they expect that backlog to be processed by the end of January.

HOMELESSNESS HOUSING IN PROJECT HOMEKEY

Newsom provided an update on Project Homekey, noting that the second round of awards for purchasing motels and housing has been issued: $236 million to purchase 1,810 units in 20 projects. The purchases are in 12 California jurisdictions, including one tribe. It's part of $600 million in funding from the state.

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Those benefiting from Project Homekey include seniors, farmworker families, and LGBTQ+ youth in Riverside County.

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