The 'Imperial approach:' Newsom describes how targeted strategies can cause dip in virus

CALEXICO, CALIFORNIA - JULY 24: Faustino, who is currently unemployed, waits after filling out unemployment forms in a bookkeeping shop near the U.S.-Mexico border in Imperial County, which has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, on July 24, 2020

There was a time in Imperial County, Calif. when the coronavirus positivity rate peaked at more than 30%.

So, in early June, the state closed certain sectors, put out better messaging and sometimes, even brought those infected with the virus up to Northern California for medical care, Gov. Gavin Newsom said.

The results worked. 

Today, the positivity rate in the county of about 180,000 near San Diego is 11.2%.

That rate is "still high," said Newsom, but it's down significantly and is now a strategy he referred to as the 'Imperial approach." 

And that approach, Newsom said Monday during his regular briefing, is also now being used in the Central Valley, where the coronavirus is raging and disproportionately affecting the number of essential workers and members of the Latinx community. 

In California, Latinos make up about 39 percent of the population but account for 55 percent of confirmed coronavirus cases.

Newsom said that the state has already earmarked $52 million to expand disease investigation, contract tracing and quarantine efforts, plus there is an additional $6.5 million from philanthropy to ensure food, rent and utilities for more vulnerable families. 

Overall, the state's numbers are looking better, too.

The 14-day positivity rate has been dropping and is now hovering at about 7%.

Hospitalizations are also going down modestly; thee's been a 10% decrease over two weeks. 

Newsom said this data is "encouraging," but no one should feel complacent about letting up on coronavirus rules and protocols. 

In fact, the number of deaths has increased, including a teen in Fresno last week. 

"This is a point of obvious concern," Newsom said. 

This story was reported from Oakland, Calif.