Long-Term COVID Management Plan

COVID is a serious disease and every COVID-related death is a tragedy. My primary goal as Governor will be to minimize loss of life.

Newsom claims electing a Republican as Governor will cause California to fall off “the COVID cliff.” Not in my California. In fact, I will manage COVID more effectively than Newsom – delivering better health outcomes while preserving individual freedoms.

Newsom is failing California on COVID outcomes. California is the 6th youngest state and the 5th healthiest and yet we’re not even among the best 15 states in cumulative case rate or cumulative death rate.

Newsom has underperformed on COVID as he has in every area important to Californians. He wasted time buying PPE from several companies that botched delivery. He oversaw one of the slowest vaccine rollouts by involving his longtime campaign donor Blue Shield against counties’ wishes. And he shattered people’s trust in public health guidance by repeatedly breaking his own rules.

My plan is not anti-vax (I’m vaccinated) and not a Florida/Texas plan. It’s built on data, transparency, and trust, and the reality that we must begin to treat COVID as endemic, not a pandemic. It’s time for the end of false promises, that one more mandate or lockdown will “extinguish the disease.”

My COVID plan – which is the only one built by a Republican California Governor Candidate – is comprehensive and includes 3 key areas: prevention, detection, and treatment.

Plan Summary

I have developed a long-term strategy to manage COVID with transparent thresholds that clearly separate an emergency from steady state. Thresholds will be used to determine healthcare staffing and financial support to counties, similar to wildfire emergency declarations.

DATA THRESHOLDS:

Newsom has failed California by changing data thresholds and issuing mandates with no enforcement mechanisms. His centralized control has led to confusion and distrust.

I will end the statewide state of emergency and empower local control for health policies. I have simple, data-driven thresholds to guide counties and local entities in decision making:

Steady-state (Green): Under 100 new cases/100K residents per day
Caution (Yellow): 100+ new cases/100K per day, ICU under 90% utilization
Emergency (Red): 100+ cases/100K per day, ICU over 90% utilization with 15%+ of ICU from COVID

My goal as Governor is to prevent COVID deaths, keep California open, and prevent hospitals from getting full using 3 tactics: Prevention, Detection, and Treatment.

PREVENTION:

Newsom has based harsh prevention measures on the false promise that COVID eradication is just one step away. In addition, his education campaigns have been one-sided and divisive. Data from Newsom has been unclear and as of July, Newsom had invested $1.3B in vaccine management and oversight but only $0.3B in education and community engagement.

I will recommend mask-wearing in counties with high community transmission rates, and recommend mask removal when counties fall below the threshold.

In addition, I will Increase vaccination rates (ages 18+) to greater than 90% by December using partnerships with local community organizations, publish transparent data on vaccines and adverse events in California to reduce concerns about side effects, and launch an education campaign focused on the FDA’s full authorization process.

I will continue to provide education on sanitation and social distancing.

I oppose forced vaccination and vaccine passports.

DETECTION:

Newsom spent money on vaccine lotteries and re-opening parties around the state instead of preparing for the inevitable: new waves of COVID. Today, our testing is cumbersome, not widely available, too slow, and inaccurate. Only 64% of test results are delivered within 24 hours and existing rapid tests don’t meet World Health Organization standards for accuracy. California should be leading the way.

I will provide 100% free testing, require faster testing turnaround, and invest $125M to develop a more accurate rapid test. Waiting 3 days to take a test, questionable testing availability, filling out crazy questionnaires, and slow turnaround times increase COVID community spread. I will speed detection of the disease through easier testing and lab capacity that ensures 90% of test results are returned in 24 hours (vs. 65% today). I will also invest in projects to spur the development of a more accurate rapid test that doesn’t require offsite lab processing. All tests will be free to individuals.

TREATMENT:

Newsom has spent no time or effort to educate people with COVID about when to go to the hospital. Emergency rooms are overcrowded, at-home treatment protocols and telemedicine offerings are incomplete, and many patients wait too long to seek intervention.

I will provide guidance for at-home care. I would provide Californians who test positive for COVID with $20 pulse oximeters to track oxygen levels so they know as early as possible if they’ll need to go to the hospital.

I will also set aside $350M to purchase COVID treatments likely to emerge by December that help lower hospitalizations and deaths for those who contract COVID. Newsom has provided no guidance to people who contract COVID and the NIH recommends no treatments except supplemental oxygen. The federal government has invested $3.2B to develop and manufacture antiviral medications, which it expects to be available by year-end. 


Full Plan

I will manage COVID proactively with a long view in mind. Lockdowns and mandates are not justified because the disease is not extinguishable, and no intervention is 100% effective. Spikes in COVID cases around the country and world in places with the strictest mandates and highest vaccination rates show us that COVID is here to stay and no single solution – even fully implemented – will end it. We must invest now in a full suite of solutions that will enable us to live, work, and learn in a world with COVID now and in the future.

Here are the 5 components of my plan:

  1. Masks
  2. Vaccines
  3. Testing
  4. Treatments
  5. Defining an Emergency

Masks

While masks do not offer flawless protection, the data shows at least a correlation between mask use and slowing transmission rates. The state will recommend masks be utilized by vaccinated and unvaccinated residents in counties where COVID community transmission is classified as “substantial” or “high”, as defined by the CDC.

I will repeal the statewide mask mandate for kids in public schools – one-size fits all does not work.

Mask mandates and related enforcement will be determined at the local level, provided case thresholds have been met. Private businesses and local school boards can require employees and customers to wear masks. If they choose to require masks, they must provide masks.

I will also continue to recommend that individuals follow CDC-approved sanitation and social distancing guidelines.

Vaccines

Vaccines are important to the ongoing management solution for COVID. Newsom tasked Blue Shield (a long-time campaign donor of his) with statewide distribution, overruling county plans, supported censorship, and suppressed side effect information.

As Governor, I will work to provide the COVID vaccine to anyone who is willing to get vaccinated and will educate the full population to understand the benefits and potential side effects of getting vaccinated without insulting them. I support the vaccine, but do not support vaccine mandates. My plan will achieve a 90%+ vaccination rate by December 2021 without mandates.

I also oppose the creation or maintenance of a statewide vaccine passport.

It’s important to note that vaccines are not a silver bullet solution. It is becoming more and more clear that while vaccines are saving lives, they will not end COVID. Spikes in states and countries with the highest vaccination rates prove this. There are 3 reasons this is true:

  1. Breakthrough cases – cases where people get COVID even when fully vaccinated – exist and continue to increase.
  2. Fully vaccinated individuals can still carry and transmit the virus to other people. The vaccine doesn’t prevent this.
  3. The vaccine is effective, but effectiveness can wane over time and in the face of new variants.

The state will continue to provide no-cost vaccines for all eligible residents. Specifically, we will partner with local community organizations in counties with low vaccination rates to increase access and provide communication from trusted sources to those in the counties. Imperial County, which has the 3rd highest vaccination rate of any county in California despite having a higher proportion of “hard-to-reach” populations, used this strategy. I met with the Imperial Valley LGBTQ Resource Center and Imperial Valley Growers Association in El Centro to learn from them.

I will ensure data is published, usable, and transparent (for example, today it’s unclear how many of the hospitalized are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated, and fully vaccinated). ADD MORE HERE.

Launching an education campaign: Newsom has underspent on education, as he has on community engagement, spending only $0.3B of the $1.6B on these two areas. He has shared data that is unclear and failed to clear up ambiguity on publicly available data. For example, data on COVID hospitalization rates fails to clarify whether partially vaccinated individuals are counted as vaccinated or unvaccinated hospitalizations. This lack of transparency causes people to mistrust state intervention. I will focus Fall 2021 education on the FDA full authorization process.

Creating a California-specific version of the Open VAERS dashboard with a list and categorization of all COVID vaccine adverse events: The primary reason people don’t get vaccinated is they are worried about side effects. The national VAERS database records all adverse reactions to vaccines. I will also create a California-specific version of the Open VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System) so that people can understand the true risk of side effects from the vaccine.

Private companies can mandate vaccines for their employees – and for their customers – as long as they are not a public service organization that is obligated to serve all people (e.g., hospitals). Hospitals, for example, must continue to serve all people regardless of vaccination status. 

Testing

Newsom did not adequately prepare our testing facilities to handle an increase in testing volume while maintaining turnaround times. We have increased weekly testing from 1.1M the last week of July to ~2M the last week of August, but the lag in time between when a test is administered and when the results are received has increased from an average turnaround time of 0.8 days in May to 1.3 days during the last week of August.

Early detection of COVID is critical to slowing the spread of COVID. As of the last week of August, only 64% of tests met my 24-hour turnaround time goal. I will focus my efforts to speed up testing in 3 of the top 10 labs processing tests that are not meeting the 24-hour turnaround in the majority of situations:

  • Labcorp: #4 processor of tests, only 14% of tests meet 24-hour turnaround time
  • Curative: #5 processor of tests, only 18% meet 24-hour turnaround time
  • Bioreference Laboratories: #10 processor of tests, only 9% meet 24-hour turnaround time

I will also invest $125M to fund research and development of a more accurate rapid test in the same way the federal government used public dollars to streamline vaccine development in 2020 as part of Operation Warp Speed and the NIH invested $250M in testing technology last summer. The existing rapid test does not meet the accuracy requirements promoted by the World Health Organization. We need an accurate rapid test that doesn’t require external lab processing and can deliver results in 15 minutes. I will ensure California is part of creating this.

Treatment

Because Newsom has focused only on prevention, he has not advanced early or late-stage COVID treatment protocols. Newsom has provided no guidance on what to do when constituents find out they have COVID and the NIH recommends no treatments except supplemental oxygen. Treatment options for those with more severe symptoms are similarly limited. This is unacceptable. 

I will provide guidance for at-home care, including the provision of $20 pulse oximeters to track oxygen levels at home so patients know as early as possible if they’ll need to go to the hospital.

The federal government has invested $3.2B to develop and manufacture antiviral medications, which it expects to be available by year-end. I will set aside $350M to purchase COVID treatments likely to emerge by December that help lower hospitalizations and deaths for those who contract COVID. If not covered in the federal government’s research, I will order extensive reviews of these other treatment protocols, like those included in the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons’ home-based COVID treatment plan and the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance‘s protocols, to determine if these treatments are effective.

Defining an Emergency

I will declare public health emergencies at the county level as we do for wildfires, rather than at the state level.

There are 3 tiers in my plan:

  1. Green: No restrictions or recommendations. As of September 8, 4 of California’s 58 counties would be in this tier.
  2. Yellow: State recommends – but does not mandate – masking indoors regardless of vaccination status. Counties will be in the yellow tier when their community transmission rate is “high” according to the CDC. As of September 8, 43 of California’s 58 counties would be in this tier.
  3. Red: State redirects resources to support treatment and detection efforts. State recommends masking and social distancing and permits local mandates. Counties fall into the red tier when the average ICU utilization in a county exceeds 90% and the community transmission rate is “high.” As of September 8, 11 counties would be in this tier.