On Monday, October 19, 2020, at noon PDT, Governor Gavin Newsom provided an update on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Governor opened today by discussing California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan. He said California is 1 of 5 jurisdictions in the U.S. doing advance planning for vaccine distributions with CDC and DOD. Further, Newsom noted that the state has vast experience in mass vaccinations— citing annual flu vaccines (19 million), H1N1, HepA, and childhood vaccinations as examples.
His Administration recently put together a vaccine steering committee and logistics taskforce. Today, California is launching the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. These top health experts will independently review FDA-approved vaccines, Newsom said. The group will also be closely monitoring vaccine trials.
Additional information on the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup can be found here: https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/10/19/governor-newsom-names-scientific-safety-review-workgroup-to-advise-state-on-covid-19-vaccines/.
In the first phases, Newsom stated, there will likely be a limited supply of vaccines. "These limited doses will be for a limited number of people and we don’t anticipate mass availability until 2021,” he said.
Building on existing immunization infrastructure, the state is now preparing for the unknowns including supplies needed for distribution such as needles/syringes, alcohol pads, etc.; storage requirements particularly cold storage/dry ice; data management CAIR: California Immunization Registry; and community education & engagement.
The Governor also took a moment to note that vaccines will not end COVID-19 overnight. However, he said, they are a key tool to help us manage this pandemic. Prevention efforts such as wearing a mask, physically distancing, washing hands, limiting mixing, and slow & stringent reopening remain important. Containment including testing and isolation is also important, as well as treatment. Next Monday, Newsom will provide an update on testing.
As he does regularly, Newsom addressed the latest COVID-19 case numbers. Specifically, he reported there were 3,474 new COVID-19 cases on October 18th, with a 2,966 case average for the past week. The positivity rate is 2.5 percent in the most recent 14 day period and 2.4 percent over 7 days. Also, hospitalizations and ICU patients continue to decline— a 4 percent decrease in COVID-19 hospital admissions over the past 14 days and a 3 percent decrease in COVID-19 ICU admissions over the past 14 days. Newsom said despite progress, the COVID-19 numbers are beginning to plateau.
Tomorrow (and every Tuesday), Dr. Mark Ghaly will provided an update on how counties are faring under the state’s reopening framework. Recall, there are 4 colored tiers - widespread is purple, substantial is red, moderate is orange, and minimal is yellow.
Currently, the California county tier status stands as follows:
- PURPLE: 10 counties
- RED: 27 counties
- ORANGE: 13 counties
- YELLOW: 8 counties
Newsom said Dr. Ghaly is set to announce interventions for counties struggling with COVID-19 rates tomorrow. He will also release updated guidelines on theme parks.
As always, Newsom closed by imploring Californians to wear a mask, physically distance, wash their hands, and minimizing mixing.
During the Q&A portion of the briefing, Newsom was asked about vaccine verification. In response, he said the state will proceed with independent verification of any COVID-19 vaccine regardless of who is elected. "We have to make sure they're safe, and they're effective."
When asked, Newsom said his Administration is "not yet" considering quarantine restrictions on travelers from states with high COVID-19 case numbers.
Regarding the distribution plan, Newsom reiterated, “we will not have a widely available COVID-19 vaccine in this calendar year.” In 2021, we'll be "slogging our way through the distribution of millions and millions of doses of this vaccine." California intends to focus its efforts on first vaccinating its critical populations, including healthcare personnel, essential workers, and other high-risk groups. Further, he confirms that the state will demand its own review of any COVID-19 vaccine before allowing it to be distributed.
The briefing concluded at 1:00 PM PDT.
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has announced the most recent statistics on COVID-19. There are now a total of 867,317 (+0.3 percent increase) confirmed positive cases and 16,943 (+0.3 percent) deaths in California. As of October 17th, there have been 16,892,062 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.
Also please note that the https://www.covid19.ca.gov/ website is being updated continuously.
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