SOUTH LOS ANGELES (CBS SF) — Admitting he has been humbled during the two-year battle with COVID, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday urged weary Californians to hang on for a few more weeks as the omicron variant continues to surge.
On Wednesday, the positivity rate among those tested was just over 23 percent with a daily average of 69,798 new cases being reported statewide.READ MORE: UPDATE: 4 Minors Arrested In Connection with Shooting in Hillsdale Mall Parking Lot
“This is going to be a challenging period, it is a challenging period for so many folks,” Newsom said as he spoke to reporters at a South Los Angeles state-run testing site. “We are hoping with what we experienced during the last few surges that we would not be experiencing another variant, particularly one that is so ubiquitous in our lives as the omicron variant.”
While the severity of the cases is much less than during last year’s delta variant surge, omicron’s transmissibly is much higher and has depleted staffing at hospitals.
A case in point, Newsom said, was a health care worker who was nearby administrating tests.
“You have someone, a remarkable young woman operating this site,” he said. “She’s NICU, works in the ICU for kids. That’s her real job and she’s here working to test because she’s filling a need. And she put her head down and said ‘I’m exhausted’ And if we would have kept talking, I would have started to breakdown a bit. And her physiology said all you need to know. She didn’t even need to share the words. Just exhausted. Emotionally. Physically.”
To help ease some of the strain, the state was bringing in thousands of out-of-state health care workers. The weariness also carries over to all Californians.READ MORE: UPDATE: Police Shoot, Kill Armed Suspect Outside International Terminal at SFO
“Every single one of you is exhausted by this,” he said. “All I’m going to say is we’ll get through this. Just a few more weeks, a few more weeks.”
The omicron surge has triggered a testing crisis in the state. Long lines form daily outside facilities from San Francisco to Los Angeles to Sacramento.
“There was a gut feeling in this country that testing wasn’t necessarily needed so a lot of the testing facilities, companies, started reducing their supply and their manufacturing rate only to find out a few months later that all that supply was needed,” Newsom said of the shift from testing sites to vaccination sites.
To help ease the demand, Newsom said the state would be expanding from the 50 current mobile testing sites to 80. The governor has also activated 200 California National Guard troops to help assist at COVID-19 testing facilities.
California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly joined Newsom on Wednesday. He shared the same feeling with Newsom of being humbled by the fight against the virus.MORE NEWS: Oakland Police Arrest Four in Separate Weapons and Drug Busts
“Humility has been the word of the last two years,” he said. “We face this virus with a great deal of humility, a great deal of flexibility. It moves and we try to prepare and sometimes have to react. We will keep doing that no matter what it throws our way. We hope as we get to the tail end of this surge that future challenges with COVID and its variants will be more manageable.”