California has cut its COVID-19 testing backlog by more than two-thirds, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Saturday, but has still managed to test less than one half of 1% of the state’s nearly 40 million residents.
“I own that. I have a responsibility as your governor to do better,” the governor said during his daily press briefing.
California has tested 126,000 people. Of those, 13,000 test results are still pending as of Friday. That’s down from the 59,500 pending results that were reported Thursday. As of Friday, the state reported 12,026 confirmed COVID-19 cases, a 12.4% increase from the previous day, plus 276 deaths.
Across the state, cooped-up residents were pushing the limits of California’s stay-at-home order, with the San Diego County sheriff reporting issuing 22 citations to people near the beach in Encinitas, saying violators were doing things like having picnics near the beach.
Many beaches, parks and hiking trails around the state and most beach parking lots have been closed because they attracted large crowds. Death Valley National Park began closing Saturday, citing public health concerns during the pandemic.
Newsom has not stepped up statewide enforcement of his stay-at-home order. But he warned people to obey local authorities.
“The state is always prepared to do more. I just want to encourage people, don’t force our hand in that respect,” Newsom said. “We cannot allow cabin fever to come in. We cannot allow people to start congregating again.”
That appears to include major sports leagues such as the NFL, which has three teams in California. Asked if he thought the football season would start on time in September with fans in the stands, Newsom said: “I’m not anticipating that happening in this state.”
Newsom on Saturday praised the state’s counties for agreeing, on a case-by-case basis, to cancel property-tax penalties for homeowners, small businesses and other property owners who have a demonstrated economic hardship. The governor added, however, that property owners who can afford to pay these taxes should continue to pay on time.
“This is good news for Californians. I would like to thank the California State Association of Counties and the California Association of County Treasurers and Tax Collectors for committing to providing economic relief for residents and small businesses facing hardships due to COVID-19,” Newsom said.