Newsom declares budget emergency amid concern for potential surge

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With a $54.3 billion budget shortfall and concern for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared Thursday a budget emergency to make additional resources available to fund the state’s fight against the pandemic. 

The move will look to cover more “personal protective equipment, medical equipment and other expenditures as necessary to support a potential hospital surge, to provide necessary services to vulnerable populations and other expenditures necessary to respond to the threat and spread of COVID-19,” according to the proclamation. 

To cover these and other expenditures related to the pandemic, the budget proposes taking $7.8 billion from the state’s rainy day fund in the 2020-21 budget, which the Legislature is expected to vote on by this week, so it could take effect July 1. 

The double-down on equipment and other needs come as Newsom has shared information on a surge in COVID-19 cases across the state. On Wednesday, he said new diagnoses rose 69% in just two days. The total number of new cases grew from 4,230 on Sunday to 7,149 on Tuesday. By Thursday, the tally dropped to 5,349. 

“You’ll see today, that number dropped to 5,349. Still higher than we would like it to be, still a point of concern,” said Newsom, adding that the positivity rate increased to 5.1% over the last 14 days, and 5.6% in the last seven days.  

On Wednesday, California conducted more than 100,000 COVID-19 tests, totaling about 3.7 million people who have been tested since the start of the pandemic, according to state data. 

Data such as “nowcasts” and “forecasts” related to the pandemic is now available to the public via a COVID-19 modeling site (calcat.covid19.gov/cacovidmodels), which breaks down current hospitalizations and deaths per county and short-term forecasts based on anticipated trends in the coming two to four weeks. 

The modeling site, which appeared to have last been updated Tuesday, showed that Los Angeles County’s current daily hospitalizations reached 1,633 for a total of 21,693 beds available and by July 25, the projected daily tally marked 1,436. Deaths by the same date are projected to reach 6,602. 

Newsom said as the Fourth of July approaches, residents should “take seriously this moment” in helping prevent the spread of the virus. 

“I cannot impress upon people more, importance at this critical juncture, when we are experiencing an increase in cases that we had not experienced in the past, to take seriously this moment and if we do, we can mitigate and we can mend, and we ultimately can rebound and become more resilient still in the future and that again is a decision each and every one of us needs to make by practicing common sense and good behavior,” he said. 

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