Gov. Newsom talks CA Notify tool, coronavirus response

California

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday morning updated the state on California’s response to the coronavirus, including a new smartphone tool to track COVID-19 exposure.

Shortly before the press conference, Newsom announced a promotion for San Francisco’s health officer, Dr. Tomas Aragon. He was selected to become the new director of the California Department of Public Health.

Newsom said the state is rolling out a COVID-19 tracking tool for smartphones, ‘CA Notify’. The tool is voluntary, and would alert people if they were near someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.

People statewide can choose to get the tool starting Thursday, and it does not track identities or locations, according to Newsom.

“It’s 100% private, 100% secure, 100% voluntary you opt in, and there’s not tracking data,” Newsom said.

Newsom’s administration says once downloaded, those who test positive for the virus will be provided a code from the Department of Public Health.

It will be up to the user to plug in the code into the app, which would then notify other app users who were within six-feet of the person for at least 15-minutes.

State leaders promise this does not share identities or collect any location data.

Apple and Google helped the state design the app. It goes live December 10.

“I’m very sober about the adoption rates. I don’t expect tens of millions of people,” Newsom said.

The announcement came just hours before state lawmakers gathered at the Golden 1 Center to start the new legislative session.

“I think it’s a great use of technology, we should be leveraging technology to alert people especially if they’e been to a public place,” Assm. Alex Lee, D-San Jose, said.

The app is the latest effort by the Newsom administration to slow the spread of the virus following a new stay-at-home order implemented in more than half of the state.

Starting session socially distant and without the usual friends and family, some lawmakers in the assembly say the legislature should have more involvement in the state’s pandemic response.

“We have kids out of school by the million, too many businesses that are shut down, an unemployment department that has hundreds of thousands of cases in its backlog, these are basic issues of government performance that have really hurt people and the legislature has just let it happen and stood by,” Assm. Kevin Kiley, R- Rocklin, said.

Legislative leaders say confronting the coronavirus and its fall out in the economy and education remains a top priority.

Android users can download CA Notify from the Google Play store, while Apple users will have it in their phones and can choose to opt in.

Newsom said in the last week, more than 60 Californians were notified about COVID exposure using CA Notify. The tool has been worked on and released in smaller stages since September.

The Latest Statewide Metrics

The state has recorded an 8.4% average positivity rate — the highest California has seen over 14 days since tracking first began, Newsom said.

The latest 7-day average of statewide positive cases is 21,924. On Sunday alone, California recorded 24,735 total new cases.

As of Monday, California has:

  • 2,360 ICU COVID-10 positive patients
  • 1,714 total ICU beds available / 7,802 total ICU beds
  • 21,209 ventilators available

Current available ICU capacity by region:

  • Bay Area: 25.7%
  • Greater Sacramento Region: 20.3%
  • Northern California: 28.2%
  • San Joaquin Valley: 6.3%
  • Southern California: 10.9%

Newsom’s Monday update comes as several California regions enacted a stay-at-home order due to dropping to 15% capacity in ICUs.

Five counties in the Bay Area chose to begin restrictions before reaching the breaking point:

  • San Francisco (effective Dec. 6)
  • Santa Clara County (effective Dec. 6)
  • Contra Costa County (effective Dec. 6)
  • Alameda County (effective Dec. 7)
  • Marin County (effective Dec. 8)

The order remains in place until Jan. 4, 2021.

Sonoma, Napa, Solano, San Mateo counties will not preemptively enact the stay-at-home order, but will be forced to if they reach the 15% capacity limit.

Dr. Grant Colfax, San Francisco’s health director, said Sunday that the city could be without any ICU beds within three weeks if trends don’t improve.

The stay-at-home order completely shuts down the following:

  • Indoor and Outdoor Playgrounds 
  • Indoor Recreational Facilities 
  • Hair Salons and Barbershops 
  • Personal Care Services 
  • Museums, Zoos, and Aquariums 
  • Movie Theaters 
  • Wineries 
  • Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries 
  • Family Entertainment Centers 
  • Cardrooms and Satellite Wagering 
  • Casinos 
  • Limited Services 
  • Live Audience Sports 
  • Amusement Parks 

The following sectors are allowed to remain open when a remote option is not possible with appropriate infectious disease preventative measures including 100% masking and physical distancing: 

  • Critical Infrastructure  
  • Schools that are already open for in-person learning 
  • Non-urgent medical and dental care 
  • Child care and pre-K 

New restrictions:

  • Outdoor Recreational Facilities 
    • Allow outdoor operation only without any food, drink or alcohol sales.
    • Overnight stays at campgrounds will not be permitted. 
  • Retail
    • Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.
    • Special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems.  
  • Shopping Centers
    • Allow indoor operation at 20% capacity with entrance metering and no eating or drinking in the stores.
    • Special hours should be instituted for seniors and others with chronic conditions or compromised immune systems. 
  • Hotels and Lodging
    • Allow to open for critical infrastructure support only. 
  • Restaurants
    • Allow only for take-out or pick-up. 
  • Offices
    • Allow remote only except for critical infrastructure sectors where remote working is not possible.  
  • Places of Worship
    • Allow outdoor services only. 
  • Entertainment Production including Professional Sports: 
    • Allow operation without live audiences.
    • Testing protocol and “bubbles” are highly encouraged.

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