Gov. Gavin Newsom vowed Saturday to significantly expand the availability of COVID-19 testing for Californians as the state reported a total of 276 deaths and 12,026 cases in the pandemic.
Around 2,300 people are currently hospitalized, about 1,000 of them in intensive care units. That’s an increase of 10.9% from the previous day, Newsom said.
The governor recognized California’s early response to the outbreak, including being the first state to impose a stay-at-home order. But he acknowledged that testing for COVID-19 has been inadequate.
As of Friday, about 126,700 people have been tested in California—a number that needs to “exponentially” rise, according to Newsom.
State officials are working to increase the amount of daily tests conducted by 500% over the next few weeks, Newsom said.
Authorities are also working to speed up the availability of results for those who have been tested and adding more point-of-care assessments where patients can receive results in five to 15 minutes.
Of the 126,700 people who have been tested, 13,000 patients are still waiting for results, according to the California Department of Public Health.
The number of people awaiting their diagnosis reached a peak of 59,500—some of them waiting as long as 12 days, Newsom said.
“You deserve more and better,” the governor said.
Newsom announced a new task force that includes experts from the University of California system and others from the public and private sectors, including Blue Shield of California.
In addition to establishing testing hubs, the group will work on gathering and communicating data in the outbreak, including information on those who have tested negative.
The governor also said that as of Friday, health departments across California have reported 175 positive cases among health care workers.
He commended the more 79,000 people who have signed up for the California Health Corps, a new initiative that enlists health care professionals who are currently not practicing but want to step up in the fight against the coronavirus outbreak.
Newsom said other individuals, companies and organizations wishing to help by donating or purchasing medical supplies for health care workers can visit www.covid19supplies.ca.gov.