California COVID Cases Up, Newsom Threatens to Withhold $2.5 Billion in Funding

13 Counties, Including Santa Barbara, in Talks with the State

California Governor Gavin Newsom promoted wearing face masks in a June 22 video. | Credit: Courtesy

California’s steady increase in COVID cases and hospitalizations dominated Governor Gavin Newsom’s message for two days in a row this week. He emphasized taking personal responsibility in social distancing and face-mask wearing, and he also threatened to withhold $2.5 billion from counties that didn’t get on board.

At today’s presser, Newsom stated hospitalizations went up 32 percent during the past two weeks as of Thursday. Yesterday the number was 29 percent. Likewise, the positive cases rose: He counted 5,349 cases today; 7,149 cases on June 23; and 5,019 on June 22. They represented a 5.6 percent increase in the past seven days, compared to 5.1 percent over the past 14 days.

Santa Barbara County is among 13 counties receiving “technical support” from the state to stay within the guidelines of its reopening attestation. In simple numbers, positive cases in the county increased by 421 individuals in the past seven days compared to 307 in the previous seven days. Fifty-seven people are in the hospital today and were last Thursday, too, but intensive care admissions rose from 12 at the beginning of last week to 20 today. Two weeks ago, the county’s COVID death toll was 16; today, it’s 27.

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Newsom said his team was working collaboratively with the counties to achieve their goals, but not all counties were complying. Some were openly flouting what they’d pledged in their attestation, he acknowledged. To rein them in, $2.5 billion in the budget currently before the Legislature was pandemic support monies “that will not flow to those counties [that say] ‘We’re done’ and dismiss the new rules and regulations,” Newsom said. He added that the funds would be parceled out monthly, not annually — “We know how people game the system” — in order to get the state back in business safely.

In a June 22 video, California turned to its stable of former governors — including Arnold “the Governator” Schwarzenegger — to promote mask wearing.

The newest rule from California concerns face coverings, which are mandatory when social distancing cannot be maintained indoors and out. While the Czech Republic and Vietnam led the way in lively, informative videos, California turned to its stable of former governors — including Arnold “the Governator” Schwarzenegger and the twice-serving Jerry Brown. Notably, only Brown and Newsom wore masks in the message meant to promote them to Republicans and Democrats.

Possibly the most novel news Newsom unleashed on Thursday is the public availability of the state’s pandemic public-health data system. Calling it the “Model of Models,” Newsom said the tool is the same one used by county health departments in their decision-making and “a playground for those who love to code.” Open to shade-tree engineers and Nobel-winning scientists and COVID detractors alike, the information, Newsom hoped, would inspire the people who figured out how to put tiny computers into cellphones and enable them to descry COVID’s future in the state depending on the choices Californians make.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story referred to the Czech Republic as Czechoslovakia. We regret the error.

At the Santa Barbara Independent, our staff is working around the clock to cover every aspect of this crisis — sorting truth from rumor.  Our reporters and editors are asking the tough questions of our public health officials and spreading the word about how we can all help one another. The community needs us — now more than ever — and we need you  in order to keep doing the important work we do. Support the Independent by making a direct contribution or with a subscription to Indy+.


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