Newsom asks Legislature for $20M in coronavirus response, says state has enough testing kits

By Carla Marinucci 03/02/2020 06:29 PM EST for POLITICO

Updated: 03/02/2020 08:15 PM EST

OAKLAND — As California sees additional cases of coronavirus emerge daily, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday asked state lawmakers for $20 million to fight the disease and said he’s fully confident in the federal response now that California has received all the testing kits we have requested.”

The governor warned that the additional tests will mean more positive confirmations of coronavirus in California, but said, “I’m confident we’re right where we need to be right now.”

California’s third case of unknown origin was confirmed Monday in San Mateo County, located just north of Santa Clara County, where nine positive Covid-19 diagnoses and one community transmission have been announced. As of this morning, California has had 43 positive tests, which includes 24 cases involving patients flown to California from China and the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan.

Several days ago, Newsom said the federal government had made available a “simply inadequate” number of tests, coming on the heels of a case in which a woman’s coronavirus went undetected for more than a week, causing dozens to be potentially exposed at a hospital in Vacaville. Soon after that case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its testing criteria and rushed test kits to higher-risk states like California.

But following an Oakland school event to support Proposition 13, the school bond measure that’s on the ballot Tuesday, Newsom said the outbreak is being handled well by federal health professionals, and these are the pros — they’re not the politicians, and we trust their word.”

“They have been straight with us and, and they’ve been made available to us as well,” he said.

Newsom asked lawmakers for $20 million from the state’s Disaster Response Emergency Operations Account, the California Department of Public Health announced Monday afternoon. It was not immediately clear how Newsom specifically intends to spend that money.

California has received 1,000 testing kits, each capable of testing about 400 patients. CDPH’s laboratory in Richmond is capable of providing a diagnosis within 48 hours, the department said.

Newsom said Monday that we have eight labs in the state of California that can take the specimens and samples, and then provide the quick determination’’ of any testing results, he said, with five more labs expected to open by the end of the week.

If the state runs out of test kits, Newsom said, California has been assured the federal government will replenish them.

Newsom said he joined dozens of governors on an hourlong call Monday to hear from directly from Vice President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The state has taken a comprehensive planning approach to monitoring the spread of the disease, Newsom said.

We’ve updated our pandemic plans. And so we’re looking at potential hotspots clustering, and we’re basically modeling out what we think is likely to occur over the course of [the] medium and long term,’’ he said. Just know that that kind of nuanced planning is taking place with very sophisticated technology.”

Newsom suggested the state may be able to expand the universe of people it tests, with cooperation from the CDC.

The testing protocols — and … the determination for when to test — is something we’re working with the CDC, because they have precautionary protocols. … We want to broaden that a little bit,’’ he said.

Asked at what point he may declare a state of emergency, Newsom said a preliminary declaration has already been drafted but hasn’t been necessary.

Normally, you do it because you want to loosen resources,’’ but with our close relationship with Speaker [ Nancy] Pelosi, our California delegation … money is not our primary concern,’’ he said. I don’t know that we need much more than we currently have.”

Victoria Colliver contributed to this report.