California governor declares budget emergency during COVID-19 crisis

Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday declared a budget emergency to free up more money to help out during the ongoing emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The proclamation is a technical necessity to ensure the availability of funding for personal protective equipment, medical equipment and other expenditures as necessary to support a potential hospital surge and provide necessary services to vulnerable populations.

Newsom said the order clears the way for the Legislature to pass legislation allowing California to draw from the its rainy day fund as the state wrestles with a $54 billion budget deficit brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Newsom has always said that as the state reopened, the number of COVID-19 infections would rise. 

The rate of positive COVID-19 tests has been at 5.1% for the previous two weeks but now has crept up as California opens back up. 

 "A 5.6%  positivity rate in the last seven days," Newsom said. 

In the last three days, California has seen a spike in cases and has shattered its record high for daily coronavirus cases as more people get tested. 

"Yesterday we had a record high, 7,149 people that tested positive for COVID-19. You see that number dropped today to 5,349," the governor said. "We are seeing roughly 56,000 new cases just in the last 14 days. So points of obvious and real concern." 

The number of hospitalizations is also up, which could ultimately lead to a reopening surge. 

"Yesterday, I shared a slide with you that showed a 29% increase in hospitalizations over a 14-day period. You can see from this slide, it's increased slightly to 32%," said Newsom.

That equates to 4,240 people who hospitalized with an 18% increase in admissions to Intensive Care Units in the last two weeks. 

 "Testing alone is not a sufficient explanation for the increased number of cases we're seeing," said UC Berkeley Infectious Diseases Expert, Dr. John Swartzberg.

Nonetheless, Newsom reassured that the state's ability to respond to a major surge in hospitalizations is well in hand.