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California Implements “Endemic” COVID Approach

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Sonora, C A – Calling it a “nation-leading pandemic response,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom today announced the state will be the first to switch to an “endemic” approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

A disease reaches the endemic stage when the virus still exists in a community but becomes manageable as immunity builds. Called the “SMARTER Plan,” it was unveiled today emphasizing prevention and quick reactions to outbreaks over mandates and building on the lessons learned over the past two years.

“Moving away from a reactive and a crisis mindset to living with this virus,” stated Newsom. “We have all come to understand what was not understood at the beginning of this crisis that there is no end date. That there’s not a moment where we declare victory.”

It is meant to return life to normalcy while putting in place policies, procedures and institutions that can more quickly identify a surge and react to it. What the SMARTER acronym’s letters stand for and a description of each is provided below by Newsom’s Administration:

  • Shots- Vaccines are the most powerful weapon against hospitalization and serious illness. Under the Plan, California will maintain capacity to administer at least 200,000 vaccines per day on top of existing pharmacy and provider infrastructure.
  • Masks- Properly worn masks with good filtration help slow the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses. The state will maintain a stockpile of 75 million high-quality masks and the capability to distribute them as needed.
  • Awareness- We will continue to stay aware of how COVID-19 is spreading and evolving variants, communicate clearly how people should protect themselves, and coordinate our state and local government response. California will maintain capability to promote vaccination, masking and other mitigation measures in all 58 counties and support engagement with at least 150 community-based organizations.
  • Readiness- COVID-19 isn’t going away and we need to be ready with the tools, resources and supplies that will allow us to quickly respond to protect public health and to keep the health care system well prepared. The state will maintain wastewater surveillance in all regions and enhance respiratory surveillance in the health care system while continuing to sequence at least 10 percent of positive COVID-19 test specimens. The state will also maintain the ability to add 3,000 clinical staff within 2-3 weeks of need and across various health care facility types.
  • Testing- Getting the right type of tests – PCR or antigen – to where they are needed most. Testing will help California minimize the spread of COVID-19. California will maintain commercial and local public health capacity statewide to perform at least 500,000 tests per day – a combination of PCR and antigen.
  • Education- California will continue to work to keep schools open and children safely in classrooms for in-person instruction. The state will expand by 25 percent school-based vaccination sites supported by the state to increase vaccination rates as eligibility expands.
  • Rx- Evolving and improving treatments will become increasingly available and critical as a tool to save lives. The state will maximize orders for the most clinically effective therapeutic available through federal partnerships, ensuring allocations of effective therapeutics are ordered within 48-hours.

Newsom argues that plan also pushes back against false claims and other misinformation.

“There are those that prefer to walk away to deny the reality of the last few years, let the virus and all its forms and manifestations continue to take its course,” stated Newsom, adding, “That’s not the approach we’re taking. We are taking a more sensible and sustainable health care approach to prepare for the unknown and invest in a future where we can all do better there.”

Under Newsom’s plan, there will be a boost in the state’s surveillance, including increased monitoring of virus remnants in wastewater to watch for the first signs of a surge. Masks won’t be required but will be encouraged in many settings.

“One of the goals is to avoid business closures and other far-reaching mandates,” informed California Health Secretary, Dr. Mark Ghaly. However, he said the state’s requirement that schoolchildren be vaccinated against coronavirus by fall remains in effect.

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