This week, Governor Gavin Newsom’s Administration unveiled a proposed $2.7 billion COVID-19 Emergency Response Package – including a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request – to bolster testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers, strengthen the health care system and battle misinformation.
The Governor’s budget also calls for new legislation to implement supplemental paid sick leave policies given the current situation being driven by the Omicron variant to better protect frontline workers.
“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” said Governor Newsom. “Our proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems and battle misinformation, with a focus on the hardest-hit communities.”
Here are some highlights of the overall package.
$1.2 BILLION: BOLSTER TESTING
Expand hours and capacity at testing sites throughout the state to help slow the spread.
Distribute millions of COVID-19 antigen tests to local health departments, community clinics and county offices of education and schools. This is critical to the state’s operational readiness and continued efforts to combat COVID-19, and it includes a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request to the Legislature for California’s immediate needs.
Supporting the state’s testing facilities, including specimen collection and expanding capacity in order to meet demand.
Supporting state departments in testing their staff and congregate populations
$583 MILLION: GET MORE CALIFORNIANS VACCINATED, BOOSTED, COMBAT MISINFORMATION
Continue the “Vaccinate all 58” public education campaign to provide reliable information and build vaccine confidence while combating misinformation, all of which is in partnership with 250 ethnic media outlets.
Continue a robust community outreach and direct appointment assistance campaign by conducting door-to-door canvassing, phone banking and texting with over 700 CBOs and community partners in partnership with philanthropy.
In-home vaccination and testing programs to meet Californians where they’re at.
Provide free transportation to vaccination appointments throughout the state to help get more Californians vaccinated and boosted.
$614 MILLION: SUPPORT FRONTLINE WORKERS AND HEALTH CARE SYSTEMS
Support and distribution of critical personnel resources for health care systems to help protect frontline workers, patient care and hospital surge capacity as well as additional staffing for vaccination sites.
$200 MILLION: SUPPORT STATE RESPONSE OPERATIONS
Resources to enhance the state’s emergency response and public health capacities, including staffing and information technology at California Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Services and Emergency Medical Services Authority.
$110 MILLION: SUPPORT VULNERABLE POPULATIONS AND BOLSTER CONTACT TRACING EFFORTS
Increased public health and humanitarian efforts at the California-Mexico border to keep migrants safe, including vaccinations, testing and isolation and quarantine services.
Expanded statewide contact tracing activities to help keep Californians safe and slow the spread.
Many health care leaders applauded Newsom’s proposed action to protect Californians and expand efforts to combat this pandemic.
“This Emergency Response Package to boost testing, vaccine distribution and support health care workers comes at a critical time as cases of the Omicron variant surge nationwide,” said California Medical Association (CMA) President Robert E. Wailes, M.D. “The California Medical Association appreciates Governor Newsom’s leadership as his administration continues to work to anticipate the state’s needs and implement strong public health measures that will save lives.”
California has led the nation’s fight against COVID-19, implementing early public health measures to protect Californians, and has invested an unprecedented $11.2 billion throughout the pandemic – actions that have saved tens of thousands of lives. The state has administered more than 66 million vaccinations and boosters and has maintained one of the lowest death rates among large states.
“As the current Omicron surge demonstrates, no one knows for how long the COVID-19 pandemic will endure or the enormity of its impact on California for years to come,” said President & CEO of the California Hospital Association Carmela Coyle. “What we do know is that the demands on our state’s health care system have never been greater, and we need all the support we can get. The Governor’s request for this funding, including resources to shore up a depleted workforce, represents a vital step toward making sure the health care needs of every Californian are met as a crisis with no known end date continues to claim lives every day.”
In the face of Omicron, California has ramped up testing capacity at an unprecedented speed – deploying the National Guard, expanding hours and access to California’s testing sites, delivering 9.6 million tests to schools since early December with another 3.3 million tests out for delivery, and ensuring that 90 percent of Californians are within a 30-minute drive of testing sites.
“Governor Newsom’s announcement to invest $2.7 billion in ongoing COVID-19 emergency response comes at a pivotal time in our fight against this deadly disease and the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. We commend the Governor for taking these decisive actions to help protect the health and well-being of local communities through the expansion of vaccines, testing, and booster shots and efforts to combat misinformation that has caused unnecessary deaths and illness. These actions will ultimately help save lives, which remains a top priority for local public health,” said Executive Director of the County Health Executives Association of California Michelle Gibbons.