With the coronavirus crisis continuing, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a new volunteer initiative Tuesday and a website that aims to connect residents looking to give back with opportunities in their communities and across the state.
The new website, https://californiavolunteers.ca.gov, offers visitors options, including working at food banks, donating blood, delivering meals or joining the California Health Corps. Newsom said anyone interested in helping out will be matched based on their expressed interests, with local needs, and that officials are hoping to organize a "volunteer corps that is much more deliberative than the way we have in the past."
"Rather than you initiating your interest, we want to make sure we engage with you," he said, adding that organizers would continue two-way conversations with potential volunteers and connect weekly through email. "From our zoomers to our boomers," he said, "we want you to volunteer."
Newsom said that the spirit of community care that has extended across California during this crisis has been the spirit that has enabled the state to flatten its curve of coronavirus case growth. While the growth rate of cases has begun to slow, positive cases and the daily death toll is still rising.
According to the California Department of Public Health's count on Tuesday, California has 33,261 positive cases and 1,268 deaths.
As of Tuesday morning, there were increases in all the markers the governor says he is watching to determine when he might start lifting the most stringent social distancing orders. There was a 7.4% increase in cases in the past 24 hours, 60 new deaths, and a bump of 3.3% in hospitalizations and 3.3% in Intensive Care Unit patients.
In an attempt to speak directly to protestors who have begun demanding the state reopen, Newsom emphasized that cases, deaths and hospitalizations are spread throughout the state, including in rural areas. On Monday, hundreds of red, white and blue-clad demonstrators gathered in Sacramento, calling for an end to the statewide stay-at-home order that's been in place since March 19.
Newsom challenged claims that he wasn't communicating with lawmakers enough
Newsom also responded to concerns raised by legislators at a State Assembly budget committee hearing Monday that he had failed to include them in key coronavirus-related decisions and failed to provide enough detail on state spending for recovery and response.
"The emergency powers that were granted were with an understanding that this would be for a certain amount of discreet time,” the Budget Committee chair, Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, said Monday. “It wasn't the sense that there was a blank check or we would just be notified after expenditures were already committed to.”
Acknowledging that he understood their anxiety and the need for questions to be answered, he said he'd been in regular contact with lawmakers through both one-on-one conversations, caucus videoconferences, and making members of his administration available.
"It certainly could improve," he said of his communication, but added that he and his team were "doing everything in our power to meet the needs and desires of the legislature."
More:California legislators demand more answers about spending on COVID-19 response
Newsom also said he is working closely with counties and local leaders to "let off a little of this pressure we are all feeling," but emphasized that across all of California's 58 counties, "we have to continue to be vigilant."
At Wednesday's briefing, and each Wednesday over the next several weeks, Newsom will begin giving updates on how California is progressing on the six key indicators that he outlined will determine the timeline for the transition back to normalcy, and the governor will "start laying out more prescriptive guidelines."
"We are making progress in the state," Newsom said, adding that the spirit that defined that progress was rooted in community. Connecting the momentum back to the new initiative, he emphasized that the state is seeking to "build that army of volunteers and capacity," that will help California weather the crisis.
"We truly are all in this together," he said.
Gabrielle Canon is a California reporter for the USA Today Network. You can reach her at email@example.com or on Twitter @GabrielleCanon.