Governor’s New Release April 29th

Notes from Governor’s Press Conference on COVID-19 – April 29, 2020, 12:00pm

** Information transcribed and truncated for audience;
notes may not fully capture all information provided **

Governor Newsom

  • Restaurants are struggling, and many seniors do not have access to food;
    • We have prepared a framework to allow for meals to be delivered to seniors;
    • That program is now taking shape, it is the city’s responsibility to engage restaurants to participate;
  • Announcing the Farm to Family program, a federal, state, and philanthropic partnership focused on food banks and how we can do more to support farmers and farmworkers;
    • Farmers and ranchers are experiencing a 50% reduction in demand, and have excess produce commodities they can’t distribute;
    • Food banks, on average, have seen a 70% spike in demand;
    • Currently, this program consists of 128 farmers and ranchers providing food to 41 food banks in 58 counties;
    • The goal is to distribute 21 million pounds of fresh produce and food to food banks on a monthly basis;
    • Philanthropists have raised $3.6 million to jumpstart this program, with the goal of extending the program through the end of the year;
  • Received two wavers from the federal government:
    • The CalFresh program can now provide access to commodities online;
      • Available statewide with the help of two partners, Amazon and Walmart;
      • Will impact about 2.2 million households, and a little over 4 million people;
    • Secondly, because of the work of Speaker Pelosi, California is the beneficiary of a pandemic EBT program;
      • Working with federal partners to provide an additional $365 to families with children that would have otherwise had the benefit of free or reduced lunch in the public school system;
      • Approximately 3.8 million children are eligible for these programs; and
      • Up to $1.4 billion available from the CARES Act to advance these nutritional needs.

Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture

  • The shock of closing down food service has ramifications for how we are all shopping and eating;
  • There is a backup of perishable product;
  • 15 years ago we ran a pilot program that developed into the Farm to Family program;
  • We began to take this program statewide to prevent waste;
    • It is already a highly developed network that has logistics and regional coordinators that solicit donations from farmers and ranchers for food banks;
    • Building upon that existing infrastructure;
  • The state board also has a standing task force on food banks and food security; and
    • They are thinking through how to respond to the needs of citizens, and long-term solutions to ensure that children, seniors, and families have access to fresh locally grown food.

Governor Newsom

  • Yesterday, we spoke about the six indicators in the roadmap to recovery, with a deep dive on businesses, schools, and childcare facilities;
  • Mentioned the possibility of moving from phase one to phase two in weeks not months;
  • While we have seen the number of hospitalized patients flatten, and become stabilized, we are not out of the woods yet, we still want to see these numbers decline;
  • Working to improve the Economic Development Department’s (EDD) call center;
  • Distributed over 6 billion of benefits since March, with 1.2 billion distributed just yesterday; and
  • Update tomorrow on contract tracing and testing. 

Question and Answer:

  • Q: Orange County voted to create guidelines for re-opening businesses. The Orange County Supervisor is on the line. What is your opinion on this?
  • A: We detailed the state’s approach yesterday. We have six indicators that will determine decision making. Our decision making will not be based on political pressures. We need to listen to public health experts and look to data to guide decision making.
  • Q: For the senior meals program, it was promised that localities would be reimbursed for 94% of the costs of the program. However, the state has not provided a timeline for reimbursement. It is very hard for cities and counties that are dealing with economic stress to pay for such programs. When will you provide more clarity on this issue?
  • A: This program is a local program, not a state program. We have put out the parameters for local governments, it will only cost them about .06 cents for every dollar spent. Local governments will also benefit from the sales tax. If cities move to get this program operational, cities can cover these costs. Understand this is anxiety producing, but this is an unprecedented opportunity. No other states are doing this program. This is an exciting opportunity for cities. We will be working with cities and counties on budget concerns. Reimbursements will get out as soon as we receive them.
  • Q: The bay area shelter in place order is allowing for certain activities not allowed under state order. Are you thinking of easing the state order to allow these types of activities? Can you talk more about phase two, what businesses are you referring to, and what can they be doing to prepare to re-open?
  • A: We are meeting with businesses and are trying to gather feedback. We will put out guidelines in the coming weeks across sectors. We are also in touch with bay area counties, we are updating statewide guidelines and are looking at regional alignment.
  • Q: Some counties are wanting to re-open, and some say the statewide stay at home order is too one size fits all. Do you agree?
  • A: We have talked about regional variation. I recognize we are many parts but one body. We went into this together, but variations are taking shape. We need a baseline of expectation and then make accommodations for variations. Also, we need community surveillance. If we move away from stay at home order, we need to have community surveillance in place.
  • Q: The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released new criteria for symptoms for testing. Are those going to be implemented into screeners for testing in California?

A: Dr. Mark Ghaly, California Health & Human Services Agency Secretary: Days ago we made a change to our own state testing guidelines to allow for more Californians to be tested as our testing capacity continues to increase. We anticipate further relaxing the standards of who should get tested.

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