Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday unveiled California’s “endemic” virus policy – and it’s going to cost billions of dollars.
Newsom used an acronym to best describe his shift to an ‘endemic’ approach: SMARTER: Shots, Masks, Awareness, Readiness, Testing, Education and Rx (prescriptions).
“This disease is not going away,” he told The Associated Press. “It’s not the end of the quote, unquote, war.”
Newsom will also keep many of his executive emergency orders in place (shocker).
“This pandemic won’t have a defined end. There’s no finish line,” Newsom said during a press conference on Thursday.
Newsom’s approach in a few bullet points via KTLA:
- Transition from reacting to a pandemic to living with it
- Keeping schools and businesses open
- Testing and quarantine guidance
- Confront misinformation about Covid and Covid vaccines
California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced the first shift by a state to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus pandemic that emphasizes prevention and quick reactions to outbreaks over mandates, a milestone nearly two years in the making that harkens to a return to a more normal existence.
Newsom said the approach — which includes pushing back against false claims and other misinformation — means maintaining a wary watchfulness attuned to warning signs of the next deadly new surge or variant.
And there will be no immediate lifting of the dozens of remaining executive emergency orders that have helped run the state since Newsom imposed the nation’s first statewide stay-home order in March 2020.
“This pandemic won’t have a defined end. There’s no finish line,” he told the AP. With that in mind, he said his administration tried to craft “a plan that allows us to be prepared without being paranoid and more alert to what’s happening around us without being anxious.”
Living with COVID-19 under Newsom’s plan means boosting the state’s surveillance, including increased monitoring of virus remnants in wastewater to watch for the first signs of a surge. Masks won’t be required but will be encouraged in many settings.
If a higher level of the virus is detected, health officials will analyze its genotype to determine if it is a new variant. If so, state and federal officials have a goal to within 30 days determine if it responds to existing tests, treatments and immunities from vaccines or prior infections.
The plan sets specific goals, such as stockpiling 75 million masks, ramping up to 200,000 vaccinations and 500,000 tests a day, and adding 3,000 medical workers within three weeks in surge areas through ongoing contracts with national registry companies.