During a press conference on Saturday, Governor Gavin Newsom confirmed that the state had cut down the backlog of COVID-19 coronavirus tests by two-thirds.
State officials confirmed that the number of people awaiting test results dropped from 60,000 to 13,000. With an expected need of even more tests in California in the coming weeks, Governor Newsom also announced that a partnership with UC San Diego and UC Davis will create centers to increase the number of tests. Another deal with the medical device company Abbott will open an additional 75 new testing centers in California.
“The testing space has been a challenging one for us and I own that. And I have a responsibility as your governor to do better and to do more testing in the state of California,” stated the Governor during the press conference. “I own [current low testing statistics]. I have a responsibility as your governor to do better.”
As of Saturday, 126,000 people, only one-half of 1% of all Californians, have been tested for the coronavirus. The low testing rates come at a time when cases are increasing, with an 11% climb of coronavirus patients in hospital intensive care units between Thursday and Friday.
“We’re seeing a lot more people come in for tests,” noted nurse Connie Lahr. “Right now we’re all tired, but at my hospital people just keep coming in. Most don’t even have symptoms. They’re just scared and want to know for sure.”
“It’s actually been kind of frustrating because we only should be testing people who think that hey might have it. This deal California has for more testing places will definitively help out the hospitals. We’ve been hearing all kinds of numbers in terms of people rushing to hospitals to get tested, so we’re going to need those places.”
“There’s no point in getting mad about it though. We all knew this was coming. And while we’re still going to need a lot more help in the next few months, this is better than nothing and really will help.”
Governor Newsom also mentioned during the meeting that stay-at-home orders are still in effect, with local jurisdictions largely being in control of punishments.
“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.”
Local authorities have been cracking down in the past week, such as San Diego authorities writing up violations for beachgoers and families out on picnics, as well as arrests of shopkeepers and surfers for stay-at-home violations. But Newsom made it clear that California itself would not be enforcing at this time.
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