Fighting COVID-19 in California

Governor Gavin Newsom and his administration have been posed with the monumental challenge of leading the state through a pandemic

By Editorial Staff

As one of the hardest hit states amid the COVID-19 pandemic, California and Governor Gavin Newsom have worked to put resources together to attempt to navigate through the outbreak.

As of late August, California has a count of over 700,000 coronavirus cases, the highest of all 50 states. In response, Newsom and his administration have taken things slow, assuring that safety is priority number one. Most recently. Newsom unveiled the Blueprint for a Safer Economy, a statewide, stringent and slow plan for living with COVID-19. The plan builds on lessons learned from the previous months of the pandemic and creates a new system for regulating COVID-19 transmissions.

“We have made notable progress over recent weeks, but the disease is still too widespread across the state. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and we all need to adapt. We need to live differently. And we need to minimize exposure for our health, for our families and for our communities,” said Newsom in a press release.

Newsom has also worked to increase testing in the state, signing a groundbreaking contract with major diagnostics company PerkinElmer. This contract allows California to process up to an additional 150,000 COVID-19 tests per day, with a turnaround time of one to two days. It also helps break supply chain logjams and drive down the costs for tests for Californians.

We have made notable progress over recent weeks, but the disease is still too widespread across the state. COVID-19 will be with us for a long time and we all need to adapt. We need to live differently. And we need to minimize exposure for our health, for our families and for our communities.”

“California is using its market power to combat global supply chain challenges and protect Californians in the fight against COVID-19. Supply chains across the country have slowed as demand for COVID-19 tests has increased, and flu season will only exacerbate the problem,” said Newsom in a press release. “So we are building our own laboratory capabilities right here on California soil with a stable supply chain to fight the disease, lower the prices of testing for everyone and protect Californians most at risk from COVID-19.”

California has additionally had to face the issue of wildfires in the month of August, particularly in Northern California. After receiving approval for a Presidential Major Disaster Declaration to increase the state’s emergency response to the wildfires and give support to impacted residents.

This news came just a month after Newsom announced that California would hire 858 more firefighters and six California Conservation Corps crews to help firefighting support during the pandemic.

Major investments included enhancing the CAL FIRE air fleet with new FIREHAWK S-70i choppers and cC-130 airplanes, as well as bolstering firefighting surge capacity and pre-positioning capabilities, according to a release.

Even pre-pandemic, the state has made infrastructure investments a priority. In January, Newsom’s state budget proposal had planned to set aside $53 billion specifically for infrastructure spending.

What was coined as the 2020 Five-Year Infrastructure Plan (Plan), the proposition would have had over $40 million dedicated to the state’s transportation system. Additionally over the five-year period, $5 billion would’ve been allocated for public transit and rail infrastructure.

Among other aspects of infrastructure, Newsom also released a final version of the Water Resilience Portfolio in late July. This portfolio is the Newsom administration’s plan for equipping California with the tools to deal with extreme droughts and floods, rising temperatures, declining fish populations and overreliance on groundwater and other challenges. To build this portfolio, state agencies put together an inventory and assessment of key aspects of California water.

“Water is the lifeblood of our state, sustaining communities, wildlife and our economy,” said Newsom. “For more than a year, my Administration has worked to assemble a blueprint to secure this vital and limited resource into the future in a way that builds climate resilience for all communities and sustains native fish and the habitat they need to thrive.”

For California, the environment is another priority. In late August, a bill was passed to cut single-use plastic waste by 75% in the state by 2032. As of this writing, the bill is expected to win a final vote from the Assembly (August 31).

With the pandemic continuing to affect the lives of millions in the country’s most populous state, Newsom and his administration continue to look to ways to contain the spread and help aid a recovery, whether it be through providing additional COVID-19 testing or solidifying the state’s resilient water portfolio.

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