SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Thursday that he had signed an executive order to provide supplemental paid sick leave for frontline workers in the state’s food sector impacted by the coronavirus emergency.
The governor’s daily address on the state of California’s response to the coronavirus was delayed until 12:30 p.m. as he had to participate in a national call involving President Trump, Vice President Pence and governors from across the country to discuss the guidelines for what he called “a phased reopening of the American economy.”
While Newsom didn’t offer any details on that plan — he said a booklet with those details was being sent out — he did say he appreciated that federal officials recognized “the differentiation that exists” between the virus’ impact on different states and even counties and the “need to act with the kind of specificity at a state by state level that is required.”
Newsom went on to say his address on Thursday would focus on the essential workers who are not unemployed and have been supporting California’s food chain.
“The people who grow our food, the people who pick our food, who pack our food, deliver our food, cook, serve and sell our food,” said Newsom. “That is our food chain in California, broadly defined.”
Newsom said that the sector has been essential during the pandemic and noted it had been hit particularly hard during the coronavirus emergency.
The governor announced that on Thursday, he signed an executive order impacting the state’s entire food chain that will allow for two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave for workers in the food supply chain and provide additional safety measures for consumers.
The executive order would provide additional paid sick leave to workers who contracted COVID-19 or had been exposed to it as well as those who had to be quarantined.
“I hope this will significantly address some of the anxiety our farm workers have, anxiety our fast-food workers have, anxiety around the delivery of our food and those workers have about their own health,” Newsom said. “We don’t want you going to work if you’re sick, and we want to make sure that you know that if you’re sick, it’s okay to acknowledge it and it’s okay to let your employer know and still know that you’re going to get a supplemental paycheck for a minimum of two weeks.”
Newsom specifically thanked California Grocers Association President and CEO Ron Fong and United Farm and Commercial Workers Local 770 President John Grant for their efforts to support food service and grocery store workers during the pandemic.
“They’ve worked across differences, they’ve worked together in a collaborative spirit to address the needs of some of the largest grocery store chains in America that happen to be here in the state of California,” Newsom said.
The Governor also said the order would increase sanitary measures for businesses involved in the state’s food supply chain.
“Additionally, the Executive Order provides health and safety standards to increase worker and customer protection by permitting workers at food facilities to wash their hands every 30 minutes, or as needed, to increase proper sanitation measures,” the press release regarding the executive order read. “The Administration has taken several actions to ensure food worker protections, including recently issued guidance by Cal/OSHA for the grocery industry on best practices on physical distancing, disinfecting, and the use of reusable bags.”
Newsom said that California had a total of 26,182 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and that the state’s death toll had risen to 890 total with 69 new deaths reported.
However, the governor noted that the number of coronavirus patients in hospitals and in intensive care units were encouraging. 3,141 cases were in the hospital, a modest decline of 0.9 percent, while 1,191 were in ICU, a 1.4 percent increase.