The plan would expand wastewater surveillance testing and genomic sequencing; expand access to Covid-19 treatments; and create a special office of community partnerships that would send hundreds of workers into immigrant, disadvantaged and other hard-to-reach communities to combat disinformation and offer access to care.
The governor said that for now, the state would continue to operate under emergency authorization, allowing health officials to move swiftly if there is a new surge. But he said his goal was to unwind the state of emergency as soon as possible.
Other priorities would include addressing worker shortages at hospitals and nursing homes, studying the virus’s effect on communities, expanding the use of smartphone technology to alert people about possible virus exposure; and offering incentives for innovations in testing and air filtration.
Though 70 percent of the state’s residents have been fully vaccinated, that is a far cry from achieving “herd immunity,” a level where so few people remain vulnerable to the virus that it cannot readily spread. Most experts think herd immunity to the coronavirus is now most likely out of reach.
Statewide surveys show Californians generally support the governor’s pandemic policies, which have limited Covid deaths to a per capita rate substantially lower than in Florida, Texas or the United States as a whole.
But public patience has frayed since Mr. Newsom announced the nation’s first stay-at-home order in 2020, starting a wave of restrictions. A local recall election, fueled by anger over pandemic rules and amplified by disinformation, put members of a far-right militia in apparent control of the board of supervisors in rural Shasta County. And a poll released this week by the University of California, Berkeley, Institute of Governmental Studies found that Mr. Newsom’s overall approval rating had slipped to 48 percent now from 64 percent in 2020.
“Right now, we’re really anxious,” said Mr. Newsom. “A lot of us are distrustful. And it’s affecting us in profound ways across our entire existence, not just this pandemic.”