LOS ANGELES - The state of California has unveiled how it plans to deal with COVID-19 for the long haul. State leaders announced what they called the SMARTER plan Thursday, which they hope will help the state mitigate the risks of future surges of the virus as it becomes an endemic.
The "SMARTER" plan is the next phase of the state's response to COVID-19, moving beyond the pandemic and more into an "endemic" stage in which residents will learn to co-exist with the virus.
The plan continues to emphasize the importance of vaccinations and testing, along with continued education about the virus, communication with residents about conditions as they change and vigilance for new variants that could potentially emerge and lead to new surges.
"We are moving past the crisis phase and into a phase where we will work to live with this virus and maintain a readiness posture and stay on top of the nature of change that is so self-evident with this disease," Newsom stated Thursday.
The SMARTER plan is broken down into seven key areas: shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education, Rx. You can click here for more information on the state's COVID-19 response plan.
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"We're gliding into normal. We're not announcing the normal. .... This is a state that's going to have tools available and keep our antennas up," Ghaly said.
"It's going to give us confidence on how to move about not in fear any longer but with a sense that we at the state are going to have everyone's back, giving good information that's clear and allow them (residents) to do many of the things that maybe they've put on hold, which they're just starting to get to do and do it with confidence," he said. "And that also includes being able to tell folks when we're seeing something of concern."
The plan will monitor communities' wastewater systems to detect a spike in COVID-19. From there, it'll work to determine if the variant circulating in that community is new or one already identified, then will distribute resources — like vaccine doses, masks and hospital staff — to the affected communities to try and mitigate further spread.
The system also lays out preparedness goals including:
- Being able to administer 200,000 additional COVID vaccine doses per day
- Having at least 75 million "high quality" masks stockpiled
- Being able to provide 500,000 COVID tests per day statewide
- Increasing vaccination sites at schools by 25%
"People are looking forward to turning the page. People are desperately wanting to move past this crisis mode that we’ve been in the past two years. People are desperate to get back to somewhat of a normalcy," the governor explained.
"But they also need to know that we have their backs and keep them safe and stay on top of this. We’re not walking away from this pandemic and this disease, we’re not walking away from this virus because the virus continues to change and mutate and we will change our approach as the virus changes," he added.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom last week said the state’s plan will build on what officials have learned over the last two years.
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