(The Center Square) – California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday announced a plan to spend $52 million to help fight the increasing spread of coronavirus in the state’s Central Valley, a major agricultural producer both for the state and nation.
Statewide, California now has 453,036 confirmed cases, including 4,411 reported Sunday, and 8,455 deaths, with 29 additional fatalities reported Sunday.
Newsom announced the spending during a news conference at the headquarters of Diamond Nuts in the city of Stockton, calling the Central Valley “an economic engine.” He said the company has shown a “spirit of engagement and collaboration” with employees to prevent the spread of the virus.
“This is an example we want to see replicated up and down the state in an effort to protect co-workers and the community,” he said.
The $52 million will come from a larger pot of $499 million in federal aid that California received to battle coronavirus and will be used to increase testing, educate employers and employees on safety measures, perform contact tracing, provide hotel vouchers for quarantine purposes and give staffing flexibility to hospitals.
Newsom said eight counties in the Central Valley have a positivity rate – the number of coronavirus tests that come back positive – ranging from 10.7 percent to 17.7 percent. The same figure statewide over the past 14 days has averaged 7.5 percent.
Two small towns in the Central Valley, however, have been told by the governor’s administration that they will not receive aid from a different pot of money unless they rescind resolutions from May deeming them “sanctuaries” not subject to Newsom’s business closure orders.
The towns of Atwater and Coalinga received the letters from the state’s Department of Emergency Services. Atwater would receive $387,428 and Coalinga $212,358. The money would come from the state budget for smaller municipalities not eligible for federal aid.
Hospitalizations of coronavirus patients have increased 3 percent over the past 14 days, but hit 50 percent earlier this month. The number of coronavirus patients in intensive care increased 7 percent over the past 14 days, down from 39 percent earlier this month.
“That’s not where we want to be but it does show some progress,” Newsom said.
California has averaged 9,859 new cases per day and 109 deaths per day over the past week.
Newsom said that as he has traveled around the state, he has noticed people being vigilant about wearing face coverings at work, but is afraid people are not continuing the practice outside of work when around friends and family.