SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — From the earliest days of California’s COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Gavin Newsom has believed the key to a successful return to a new normal level of everyday life rested on the ability to provide large scale testing within the state.
It’s a belief he still has months later and is guiding his decision as to the pace in lifting the restrictions of his historic shelter in place order that shuttered businesses and schools and forced millions to remain homebound.
“The most important thing that has occurred that allows me more confidence in our capacity to deliver the promise we can safely and responsibly reopen the economy in the state of California is that our testing has substantially increased in this state,” he said during his Friday update. “We went from 2,000 tests to day to now over 50,000 tests every day.”
But the governor also noted that, while health officials have made an effort to test the broad diversity of the state’s population in both urban and rural areas, the test results showed the disparity in race and ethnicity as far as cases.
While the percentage of deaths among the Latino and Asian communities were roughly along the lines of their population, the African-American community showed just over 10 percent of the deaths in the state despite making up only six percent of the population.
“Not surprisingly to the theme and frame that connects the dots today…the number of deaths in percentage terms, substantially higher,” he said. “It is a point to highlight. It’s an incredibly important point about the structural challenges that we have as a state and a nation, to address the issues we’ve brought in this crisis and to subsequently address to resolve solve once and for all.”
On the positive side, Newsom noted that the state was making significant progress in training contact tracers.
“The state of California came into this pandemic with 3,000 tracers,” the governor said. “It’s important for folks to know, as we increase our testing significantly, we also are on track to our goal of 10,000 tracers trained in our workforce by the end of next month. That 10,000 allows us to track 3,600 new cases per day.”
The governor also acknowledged, as he has in previous updates, that local data and conditions would dictate the rate of reopening for different counties as health officials take different paths, noting that the San Francisco Bay Area is progressing at its own pace.
“The Bay Area is moving slower, other counties moving faster,” Newsom said. “It is what we designed over the course of weeks. What works in one area may not work in other areas. Each county has its own conditions.”
As of Friday, California has had 101,697 confirmed cases since the outbreak began with 3.973 deaths and 1,092 patients currently under ICU care.