Governor Newsom on Saturday unveiled the 2022 to 2023 budget proposal, which includes $2.7B in COVID-19-related funding, a billion dollars more than last year when about $1.7B was allotted for pandemic response and relief. A good amount of the proposed funds will go toward ramping up and streamlining testing.
Omicron is showing no signs of slowing its spread throughout California. More than 34,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported yesterday, January 8, in CA; the state's new seven-day rolling average is 74,577 cases (and that number, without question, will exponentially increase over the next few days). Barring another, even more communicable variant, COVID-19 could still become "like the flu" in a few weeks' time.
But don't get it twisted: COVID-19 is here to stay... for the rest of our lives.
We’re proposing the largest COVID-19 emergency response package in the nation!— Office of the Governor of California (@CAgovernor) January 8, 2022
Our $2.7 billion plan, including $1.4 billion in emergency urgent funding, will increase our testing, vaccination, and booster capacity while battling misinformation & more. pic.twitter.com/bra4GZHWdC
We're in “endemic” territory now. Thus, California's response to the disease will continue evolving — which, for 2022, means more state-allocated funds are being suggested for coronavirus response and relief.
“From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there’s more work to be done,” Governor Newsom said in a news release published by the Office of the Governor. “Our proposed COVID-19 Emergency Response Package will support our testing capacity, accelerate vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers and health care systems, and battle misinformation, with a focus on the hardest-hit communities.”
That package? It includes the following:
• $1.2B set aside to "bolster testing," which includes expanding testing sites (and the operating hours of those sites); distributing appropriate antigen tests to local health departments, clinics, and other health centers; continue supporting the state’s testing facilities; grow education around the disease at schools, local offices, community centers, etc..
• $583M set aside to get more California residents vaccinated and boosted, as well as disarm misinformation; the budgetary allocation will see to “vaccinate all 58” public education school systems; partner with over 250 media outlets and build a robust "community outreach and direct appointment assistance campaign"; offer in-home vaccination initiatives and COVID-19 testing programs.
• $614M to support frontline and healthcare workers by expanding support systems; increasing "critical personnel resources" for health care systems to protect frontline workers, improve patient care, and mitigate hospital surge capacity, as well fill additional staffing needs for vaccination sites.
• $300M to maintain the state’s COIVD-19 response by enhancing CA's emergency response and public health capacities; increase staffing and information technology at California Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Services and Emergency Medical Services Authority; allocate funding to support vulnerable communities by initiating humanitarian efforts at the California-Mexico border to keep migrants safe, which includes vaccinations, testing, and isolation areas, and other quarantine services; expanded statewide contact tracing activities to help keep Californians safe and slow the spread.
All of this also comes after Newsom enacted the California Guard Friday to aid ongoing COVID-19-related testing and vaccination efforts. Over half of this proposed budget — $1.7B — is in emergency appropriations, so that amount is being requested immediately to "ramp up vaccines, boosters, statewide testing, and increase medical personnel" at hospitals fighting the novel pathogen.
California has allocated $11.2B in funding to combat COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March of 2020, per Newsom's office. Though if these past few weeks have proven anything, it's that we're still not out of the woods yet — and that amount will continue to swell over time.
Top Photo: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference at Kingston 11 Cuisine on October 08, 2021 in Oakland, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a COVID-19 recovery package, Senate Bill 314, that will allow restaurants and bars to keep parklets and give them a one-year grace period to apply for permanent expansion. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)