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Gov. Newsom issues executive order to expand state's response to COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:29 AM, Mar 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-22 13:29:51-04

California Gov. Gavin Newsom briefed the public Saturday on the ongoing efforts by the state to halt the COVID-19 pandemic.

Newsom said he is directing more than $42 million in emergency funding to expand California's healthcare infrastructure as hospitals brace for an influx of patients.

The executive order gives the state the ability to increase the health care capacity in clinics, mobile health care units and adult day health care facilities. It also allows local governments more flexibility to utilize the skills of retired employees and reinforces the importance of the delivery of food, medicine and emergency supplies.

More than $1.4 million will be used to expand testing capacity at a state public health lab in the city of Richmond; $8.6 million will be used to provide new ventilators, refurbish old ones and get IV fusion pumps. American Medical Response will get about $2 million to provide COVID-19 patient transportation, according to NBC Los Angeles.

He estimated that some 80 million Americans are under home isolation, which amounts to about one-fourth of the country's population.

“The State of California is fighting hard to get the resources that Californians need to meet the COVID-19 surge. These emergency legal tools will increase California’s health care capacity and help facilities treat more patients,” said Governor Newsom.

Some private companies are stepping up to the plate to provide necessary equipment, masks and ventilators for hospitals. They include Tesla, Apple and Gap, he said. One company is re-purposing old ventilators for use.

Unemployment claims in California are spiking higher over the las tweek, the governor said. Sunday, there were 40,000 claims; Monday, 70,000; Tuesday, 80,000; Wednesday, 125,000; Thursday, 135,000; and Friday, 114,000.

Newsom said the states need more support from the federal government, especially when it comes to critical medical supplies. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first rapid-response test that will give people COVID-19 results in about 45 minutes.

He also said there were three surveillance tests completed in LA, Orange and Santa Clara counties to test people who appeared to be healthy. The testing found COVID-19 positives among those tested, which Newsom said will give the state an idea of how many people are infected, so that resources can be re-purposed to deal with the needs of the communities.

He also said the state is negotiating with hotel owners about housing the homeless and even buying some hotels for that purpose.

He said there are no plans to restrict access in or out of California or stop freeway traffic.

"We want people to be free to walk their dogs, take a breath, exercise, take a walk or a hike and run if they want," Newsom said. "We just want people to use common sense and not congregate with other people during the crisis."

Information from NBC Los Angeles.