State Watch

California Gov. calls for $2.7 billion to expand COVID-19 response in budget proposal

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a budget proposal has called for $2.7 billion to fight COVID-19 by supporting hospitals, boosting testing and increasing vaccinations in the state.

Newsom on Saturday unveiled the 2022 to 2023 budget proposal, which includes $1 billion more in COVID-19-related funding than the $1.7 allotted in last year’s budget.

His office called the new $2.7 billion package “the largest emergency response package in the nation.”

Newsom said the funds would be rolled out “with a focus on the hardest-hit communities.”

“There’s more work to be done,” he said in a statement.

In the proposal, $1.4 billion in emergency appropriations is requested to immediately “ramp up vaccines, boosters, statewide testing, and increase medical personnel” at hospitals fighting the novel coronavirus.

Of the total requested COVID-19-related funding included in the proposal, $1.2 billion would go to bolstering testing in the state, while an additional $583 million would be put toward increasing vaccinations and booster shots for Californians — as well as combating misinformation through the “Vaccinate all 58” public education campaign.

Additional funds would support the California Department of Public Health and state emergency medical services; increase staffing and other services at hospitals and bolster contract tracing efforts, among other measures.

California has allocated $11.2 billion in funding to combat COVID-19 since the pandemic began, per Newsom’s office.

While nearly 69% of California’s population is fully vaccinated, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, the state has also seen more than 77,000 COVID-19-related deaths and a surge in cases following the emergence of the highly transmissible omicron variant. As of Jan. 6, there were more than 9,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 in California, per state data.

Newsom announced on Friday that he had activated the state’s National Guard to support additional testing sites in California.

California Hospital Association president and CEO Carmela Coyle said Newsom’s proposal was “a vital step toward making sure the health care needs of every Californian are met as a crisis with no known end date continues to claim lives every day.”

“As the current Omicron surge demonstrates, no one knows for how long the COVID-19 pandemic will endure or the enormity of its impact on California for years to come,” Coyle said in a statement. “What we do know is that the demands on our state’s health care system have never been greater, and we need all the support we can get.”

The budget will have to be approved by the state legislature and would fund the state starting in July.

Tags California COVID-19 Gavin Newsom state budget

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