Gov. Gavin Newsom Wednesday visited a coronavirus testing site in Paramount to discuss his request for $2.7 billion in new COVID-19 spending as part of his next state budget proposal.
The budgetary recommendation is designed to protect frontline workers, battle misinformation online and ensure the state’s health care system is prepared to handle future variants, Newsom said.
Funds would help ramp up vaccines, boosters and statewide testing, and increase medical personnel to meet potential surges, he said.
“We want to build up some permanent infrastructure” to prepare for a phase where variants are treated like changes in the flu virus, the governor said.
“We’re gonna get through this,” he added.
Newsom’s office is also battling a seemingly never-ending fountain of misinformation about the virus spread online.
“This nonsense they’re spewing,” Newsom told reporters. “We just have to keep pushing back.”
The governor said there were currently 50 mobile testing sites — on top of an existing 6,288 permanent sites — operating throughout the state, many in rural areas, with 30 more coming online shortly. More than 10.9 million tests have been distributed to schools statewide since early December, he said.
Currently, 90% of Californians live within a 30-minute drive of a site, Newsom said, but ”that is not good enough.”
The governor said he had deployed about 200 members of the National Guard to help at testing sites around the state, adding capacity for walk-ins and back-filling for staff absences. An additional 80 Cal Guard members would be deployed in the coming days, he said.
“We don’t want to see folks lining up,” Newsom said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn — whose district includes Paramount — thanked Newsom for his “decisive leadership” in getting California residents vaccinated and boosted.
Hahn said the Omicron variant of COVID-19 “has presented new challenges. We’re conducting 200,000 tests per day, but that is not enough. People want to be tested. It’s time we stepped up and meet the moment on testing.”
Newsom arrived in Paramount after visiting a homeless encampment in downtown San Diego to highlight his California Blueprint, a plan to tackle “existential threats,” including the housing crisis, through the proposed $286.4 billion budget.