On Wednesday, February 3, 2021, at 10 a.m. PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine distribution efforts.
Prior to the briefing, the Governor’s office announced a pilot project with the Biden-Harris Administration to establish community vaccination sites in Oakland and Los Angeles. According to a press release, these pilot sites, which will be based at the Oakland-Alameda Coliseum and California State University, Los Angeles, are part of the wider effort to establish 100 vaccination sites nationwide in the federal administration’s first 100 days. The sites will be co-run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the State of California through the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES). The sites are expected to be open to eligible members of the public beginning February 16th. Registration for vaccine appointments at these two sites will be available through the state’s MyTurn scheduling system in the coming days.
Today’s briefing today took place at the Oakland Coliseum to unveil the new vaccination site. At the start, Oakland A's President Dave Kaval and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf provided introductory remarks. Other local representatives were present, including Assemblymember Rob Bonta and Senator Nancy Skinner. Then, Newsom spoke in greater detail about this partnership with the Biden Administration. "The whole idea is to speed up the throughput," and "maintain an equitable lens," he said.
Newsom also provided the latest COVID-19 case numbers. "Everything that should be up is up, everything that should be down is down," he reported. Specifically, Newsom said California is down from 60,000 COVID-19 cases a day to just 10,501 yesterday. The seven-day positivity rate is down from 14.3 percent in early January to 6.1 percent over the last seven days. Also, he noted hospitalizations rates, ICUs patients are dropping steadily.
On the vaccine, Newsom said California is administering more than 1 million doses per week, tripling the pace of vaccinations from a month ago. He said the state has given out more than 64 percent of its COVID-19 vaccine doses so far, and now ranks 30th among the 50 states, per Bloomberg tracker. Further, Newsom stated the contracts with Blue Shield and Kaiser for vaccine distribution will be made public on February 15th.
Following Newsom’s remarks, Senator Skinner offered some complimentary comments about the Governor’s leadership. She said thanked Newsom for helping bringing the surge down. A local county supervisor also provided favorable remarks about the Governor and his efforts. Notably, each speaker this morning celebrated/defended Governor Newsom's pandemic related decisions.
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom said that the state has been assured it will receive sufficient additional doses to accelerate vaccine program, at least 6,000 a day.
Regarding recent polls showing low approval rates of his Administration’s vaccination efforts, Newsom replied by citing the progress being made. He also said that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a “game-changer.”
Newsom dismissed the suggestion that he chose Blue Shield to run the vaccine program because of close political ties and their campaign support. He said, “they have the kind of scale, they have the capacity, they have the allocation distribution mindset that we were looking for.”
Asked about schools reopening, Newsom said, "I believe we can safely reopen schools and I want to do it in a sustainable way." Senator Skinner added that the Legislature is hammering out details to reopen schools and that she is confident they will get there. Regarding whether all teachers need to be vaccinated before reopening, Newsom cited CDC guidance and says he believes teachers can safely return to classrooms "as" they're being vaccinated.
Regarding appointments, Newsom said he is "very close" to making a decision on the next Attorney General, but won't make that announcement until Xavier Becerra is confirmed as Biden's HHS secretary.
The briefing concluded at approximately 11:00 AM PDT.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There is now a total of 3,270,770 (+0.4 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 41,330 (+1.2 percent) deaths in California. As of January 23rd, there have been 42,851,891 tests conducted in California and reported to the California Department of Public Health. More information regarding the most recent COVID-19 statistics can be found here.
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