On Monday, Governor Gavin Newsom called for a renewed COVID-19 safety focus on the Central Valley, pledging $52 million to eight of the hardest hit counties there.
A new area of COVID-19 focus in California
Speaking from the Central Valley city of Stockton, Governor Newsom gave updated figures for California on Monday, noting that on Sunday that nearly 6,900 new positive cases were reported, with 29 additional deaths in the state. An overall rate of 7.5% of positive tests was also announced by Newsom, saying that the average rate was holding strong and not going up. Those aged 18 to 49 and those of Hispanic origin were also noted by the Governor as currently being disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic around California.
However, Newsom then segued into the positivity rates for the Central Valley, noting that rates there were much higher than the state average, being between 10.7% and 17.7%. Farm workers, manufacturing positions, and those in prisons were noted to be the main contributors for positive tests in the eight Central Valley counties.
Today's #COVID19 update:
128,439 tests were reported yesterday, with 6,891 positive cases.
CA’s positivity rate remains at an average of 7.5%.
Tragically, 29 fatalities were reported yesterday bringing our current average to 109 lives lost every day.
Please — wear a mask.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) July 27, 2020
While focus still remains on the Los Angeles area and Imperial County due to high numbers of cases, the quickly worsening number of cases in San Joaquin County, Stanislaus County, Tulare County and other Central Valley counties made the Governor respond with additional action.
$52 million worth of investments in Central Valley, part of a $499 million CDC grant from the federal government, was the centerpiece of Newsom’s announcement to combat the growing number of cases in that region on Monday. The eight counties, according to the Governor, will have the money go towards improvements in testing and healthcare, as well as adding additional health care personnel into the needed areas.
“Today we’re announcing a $52 million dollar investment,” said Governor Newsom on Monday. “New dollars will be put into the Central Valley, into the eight counties to improve our isolation protocols, our quarantine protocols, our testing protocols, and to enhance testing our healthcare workers by providing more support and personnel.”
In addition to the large block of funding, three strike teams consisting of medical and support personnel from OSHA, California Health and Human Services (CHHS), other state agencies, and local partners will be sent to the Central Valley counties to assist with COVID-19 efforts there. This is the second time that such teams were formed and deployed, the first being sent to Imperial County early this month.
Higher infection rates in the Valley, protection of food resources in California
Dr. Mark Ghaly, the CHHS Secretary, also noted that those infected in the Central Valley currently have the highest rates in getting others infected, averaging between 1 to 1.4 others being infected per every COVID-19 infected person.
Governor Newsom did note some good news on Monday, noting that ICU patients in the state have not been growing as fast as previously thought. With 10,000 ICU beds currently available in the state, only 2,012 are currently filled, showing a clear miscalculation for the number needed.
Healthcare and Central Valley experts noted that Governor Newsom’s Monday announcement offered a much needed respite in the Central Valley.
“We really needed more help out here,” noted Maggie Fraser, a health care worker who has helped residents in several Central Valley receive COVID-19 testing, in an interview with the California Globe. “We’ve seen the number of new cases really shoot up here in the past few weeks, especially those working on the farms. We’ve had multiple mini-outbreaks happen on farms that no one has heard about.
“This funding is critical because not only does it mean lives will be saved, but it will ensure that food will be grown and harvested on time as well. No one has said that protecting food and supply lines is a reason, but the focus on this area makes it pretty clear.”
Funding is expected to reach the counties soon with the additional CDC funding currently being decided on where and what it will be spent on.
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