Democrat California Governor Gavin Newsom proposed a new state outlay of $2.7 billion of “emergency funding” to address the state’s latest surge in COVID-19 cases. In a release, the governor’s office said that the money would be used to add testing capacity, support health care workers, promote vaccination, and “fight misinformation.”
The announcement comes as Californians have primarily adapted to life with the new omicron variant, which has led to a spike in reported cases nationwide while not causing as many hospitalizations or deaths as previous variants.
Newsom said California had acted swiftly and directly “from day one” to battle COVID-19. He claimed that the state has “saved tens of thousands of lives,” but work is yet to be done. Newsom said the new expenditures would be directed to the “hardest hit” California communities.
Reports indicate that the state’s existing 2022-23 budget proposal already includes an increase of $1 billion for pandemic-related measures. Newsom referred to the new expenditures proposed as the “largest emergency response” in the country.
The $2.7 billion proposed would give $1.2 billion to expand testing sites and distribute tests to schools and health care facilities. Vaccination efforts and handling “misinformation” would receive another $583 million.
The remaining $924 million Newsom proposed would obtain resources for health care workers and humanitarian efforts at the state’s southern border to assist migrants with health care.
Newsom activated the California National Guard to work at testing sites on Friday. He also issued an executive order to prohibit “price gouging” on the retail sale of testing kits. Demand has been very high across the state, and the artificially locked prices ordered by Newsom are sure to keep supplies short.
As the Omicron variant surges, many medical experts say the coronavirus will become similar to the flu concerning its impact on American life. Successive variants will continue to be transmissible but less deadly, and many citizens will want to obtain new vaccine variants depending on their risk factors.