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State Health & Emergency Officials Ramp up Response 

Date: March 2, 2020
Number: NR20-009
Contact: Corey Egel | 916.440.7259 |

Governor requesting emergency action from legislature to make available up to $20 million to help California respond to COVID-19

The state is mobilizing every level of government to prepare for
and respond to spread of virus

State Operations Center is activated to its second highest level

State has received kits able to test thousands of specimens
and testing is being performed at 10 public health laboratories


SACRAMENTO – As the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by novel coronavirus, continues worldwide, the State of California today announced a broad series of new actions designed to protect public health and safety.

Governor Gavin Newsom is requesting the Legislature make up to $20 million available from the Disaster Response Emergency Operations Account, which will allow state government to respond to the spread of COVID-19. This will be an early action item for the 2020-2021 budget. 

Additionally, Governor Newsom has activated the State Operations Center (SOC) in Mather, California, to its second highest level to support state, federal and local emergency managers, public health officials and first responders. The SOC will provide operational and logistical support to the California Department of Public Health's Medical and Health Coordination Center (MHCC). The MHCC has been activated since January to coordinate California's public health response to COVID-19.

Also, over the weekend, California received additional COVID-19 test kits from the CDC, allowing California to test thousands of specimens. These resources, which were requested by the governor last week, will help California medical experts get test results sooner, so they can identify and treat cases, trace potential exposures and better protect public health.

Receiving these new test kits has significantly increased the state's capacity to process specimens and quickly identify new positive cases so affected individuals can be isolated

Ten California public health labs have already received CDC test kits and have begun testing. These labs include CDPH's Laboratory in Richmond, Alameda, Contra Costa, Sacramento, Santa Clara, Tulare, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego County labs. The CDPH Laboratory will provide diagnostic testing within a 48-hour turnaround time. More public health labs will soon be able to test, ramping up to a total of 20 public health labs in California in the coming weeks.

While additional positive tests continue to be reported by county health officers, state officials emphasized that these reports show swift and robust action is being taken to detect cases early, isolate and care for patients, and trace contacts.

"These new cases were quickly identified and isolated thanks to the increased testing capacity and aggressive contact tracing deployed by state and local public health departments in partnership with the CDC," said California Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly. "Quickly identifying and tracing positive cases is helping us better understand and slow the spread of the virus. As testing and contact tracing continues in the coming days, CDPH expects there will be more California cases identified."

Dr. Ghaly also underscored that there are simple steps we can all take to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Wash your hands with soap and warm water. Avoiding touch eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands. Stay home from work or school if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like a fever and cough. Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Follow guidance from public health officials.

It is also important that anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, call their health care provider first before seeking medical care so that appropriate precautions can be taken.

COVID-19 in California by the Numbers (as of 10 a.m. Pacific Time):

43 – Positive tests

24 – Cases of positive tests related to federal repatriation flights

19 – Cases not related to repatriation flights

  • 10 – Travel-related
  • 5 – Person to person
  • 4 – Community transmission

9,100+ – number of people self-monitoring who returned to the U.S. through SFO or LAX

49 – Number of local health jurisdictions involved in self-monitoring

10 – Labs performing tests

Thousands – Number of tests California is able to perform now

*All numbers as of 10 a.m. PST and are subject to change

How Can People Protect Themselves:

Every person has a role to play. So much of protecting yourself and your family comes down to common sense:

  • Washing hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying away from work, school or other people if you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough.
  • Following guidance from public health officials.


California's Response to COVID-19:

We have been actively and extensively planning with our local public health and health care delivery systems. Here are some of the things we are already doing:

  • As in any public health event, our Medical and Health Coordination Center has been activated and is coordinating response efforts across the state and preparing for possible community transmission.


  • California continues to prepare and respond in coordination with federal and local partners, hospitals and physicians.


  • California activated the State Operations Center to coordinate response efforts across the state.


  • We are providing information, guidance documents, and technical support to local health departments, health care facilities, providers, schools, universities, colleges, and childcare facilities across California.


  • We are coordinating with federal authorities and local health departments that have implemented screening, monitoring and, in some cases quarantine of returning travelers. 
  • In coordination with the CDC, state and local health departments, we are actively responding to cases of COVID-19. 


  • We are supporting hospitals and local public health laboratories for collection and shipment of specimens for testing of novel coronavirus.


  • The California Department of Public Health's state laboratory in Richmond is testing for the virus that causes COVID-19 along with 9 other local public health labs across California.
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