SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom was critical of the low numbers of Californians who have been tested for the coronavirus and he place blame for the slow rollout of testing squarely on his own shoulders in a Saturday address to the state.
Newsom said, so far, 126,700 Californians had been tested for the virus.
“That testing number may sound high to some,” he said. “It is low to many others and certainly to me. Let me just acknowledge on the outset — the testing space has been a challenge for us and I own that. It has been my responsibility as governor to do better.”
The governor acknowledged that, over recent weeks, there was a period when the backlog of those awaiting results grew by 59,500 people, many of them waiting in fear and anxiety for as long as 12 days. Currently, Newsom said, there were 13,000 awaiting their results as of Saturday.
“All of that has frustrated you and it has frustrated me,” he said.
Newsom announced he has brought together a cross section of leaders on the front lines of the testing battle, assembling a new task force and hammering out a new plan of attack. The goal is to increase by five-fold the number of tests given daily over “course of the next few weeks.”
“We are now in a position where I can confidently say it’s a new day and we are turning a page on our old approach to how we coordinate, how we collaborate, how we organize,” the governor said.
“I don’t want to get numerical [on the new testing levels] until I can be sure that this new promise can materialize,” Newsom said.
The governor announced new testing partnerships with UC Davis and UC San Diego to create a network of 5- to 7 hubs statewide “where we have high throughput, where we will work with different vendors — not be prescriptive on the exact type of testing but work with these hubs to significantly increase our testing capacity … They will be geographically-based, all up and down the state of California.”
Newsom also lauded Stanford Medicine for being the first in the state to develop a serum test for the virus and announced more point-of-care testing like the one from Abbott Labs that was deployed by Dignity Health in its Bay Area urgent care clinic this week.
“These are tests where we can get results back in as early as 5 minutes (the Abbott test),” he said. “Abbott Laboratory is now committed to 75 testing sites in the state of California working with 13 of our hospital systems.”
The governor announced that the state has launched a one-stop website to streamline donations or sales of critical supplies needed to fight the outbreak.
The http://covid19supplies.ca.gov site lists 13 in-demand items, from ventilators to hand sanitizer, needed by hospitals and first responders around the state.
Individuals and companies can donate, sell or offer to manufacture the supplies, Newsom said.
The governor said the goal was to organize what has become an overwhelming outpouring of donations in recent weeks, and also streamline offers to manufacture needed supplies.
“These actions marshal the generosity and innovative spirit of Californians to help us achieve two essential goals: getting more lifesaving supplies into our health care system and increasing our testing capacity,” Newsom said.
There have been 12,026 positive tests in the state and 282 deaths. Meanwhile, in the Bay Area as of early Saturday, there have been 3,314 positive results and 87 deaths with Santa Clara County being the hardest hit with 1,094 cases and 38 fatalities.
Newsom has not stepped up statewide enforcement of his stay-at-home order. But he warned people to obey local authorities.
“The state is always prepared to do more. I just want to encourage people, don’t force our hand in that respect,” Newsom said. “We cannot allow cabin fever to come in. We cannot allow people to start congregating again.”
That appears to include major sports leagues such as the NFL, which has three teams in California. Asked if he thought the football season would start on time in September with fans in the stands, Newsom said: “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
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