SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — Just hours after California’s total number of confirmed coronavirus cases surpassed that of New York state, Governor Gavin Newsom on Wednesday announced another grim milestone with the state confirming a record of nearly 13,000 new positive tests in a single day.
“Yesterday, we had 12,807 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19. 12,807 represents the highest reported number in our state,” Newsom said during a press briefing from inside a personal protective equipment warehouse in Sacramento where he highlighted the state’s efforts to obtain and distribute PPE.
Over the previous seven-day period, the governor noted the state had averaged 9,420 cases per day, up significantly from the previous week’s average of roughly 8,300 per day as the trendline continued to increase. The seven-day positivity rate had also risen to 7.6 percent as of Wednesday, which Newsom said was concerning.
Health officials revealed early Wednesday that California’s confirmed coronavirus cases have topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation. However, California still trails the Empire State in deaths associated with the virus.
Newsom said the state also reported 115 new deaths from coronavirus Wednesday. He noted that the number of daily fatalities from the virus had fluctuated considerably.
“Earlier in the week, we were reconciling just nine deaths, nine families whose lives were torn apart because of the loss of a loved one; just nine,” said Newsom. “And I made a point that I wanted to reinforce today: From nine to 115 just over the course of a few days, that it’s more important I think — beyond the magnitude of each individual loss — but in terms of trying to get a sense of the mortality rates here in the state of California, to look at those seven-day averages. And over a seven-day period, we have averaged 90 lives lost. That’s compared to about 98 in the previous seven days, but nonetheless 90 lives lost. It’s just another reminder — if I need to remind anybody — of the magnitude of impact that this virus continues to have.”
The governor continued: “I know that there is a drumbeat that is often advanced around this notion that somehow the mortality rate is such that none of us have to necessarily worry about having contracted the disease, that is just simply untrue. The data bears that out and with that number of 115 [deaths] just yesterday, it’s just another proof point of how deadly this disease continues to be.”
Newsom noted that it wasn’t surprising California surpassed 400,000 cases, as the state is as large as 21 states combined and with certain business sectors and areas reopening. 35 of the state’s 58 counties are now being monitored on the state watch list.
The addition of San Mateo County to that list means that all nine Bay Area counties are now being monitored by state health officials.
While the governor said state officials were carefully monitoring California’s ability to staff hospitals and alternative care sites as well as properly cover contact tracing, he also wanted to tout the state’s success in acquiring personal protective equipment.
The governor said California’s PPE strategy has up to now been a success and was prompted by the absence of a federal plan.
“Our PPE strategy was predicated on the lack of a national strategy where many had recognized in California early on that we were competing not only with other states, but other nations – including the United States, our federal partners themselves – in terms of getting adequate supplies of PPE,” said Newsom. “Because of the size of the State of California…we could have either lamented that, been frustrated by that, pointed fingers at other partners or the failure of developing partnerships in this space. Rather, we decided to change the game, tried to be more resourceful in our mindset in terms of how we approach the issue of procurement of PPE.”
The state has secured approximately 200 million surgical masks for California, with about 193 million already in the state. The state has also procured 146 million N95 masks with an additional 150 million set to arrive in the coming weeks.
Newsom said the state had to work through some of the certification issues with federal providers, but that those problems were overcome. 297 million procedure masks have been distributed to essential workers over the past three months, according to the governor.
Despite the large number of PPE amassed by the state, with California distributing approximately 46 million masks per month, Newsom said that the state continues to work to grow its inventory, establishing new contracts with outside providers and making deals with manufacturers within the state to fill those needs.
While he had said that the state made “big and bold” moves due to the lack of a federal plan for acquiring PPE, Newsom did complement regional FEMA director Bob Fenton for the work he had done with California.
Newsom also acknowledged that, despite the volume of masks being distributed by the state’s supply chain, he is still hearing some complaints about a lack of masks being experienced by some health care professionals, with some nurses only receiving two or three masks to use per week.
“That’s unacceptable. We’re sending out an unprecedented number of masks. I want to make sure those masks are going to our front-line workers. So we are advancing more aggressive protocols of accountability,” said Newsom.