California switches to SMARTER Plan charting path forward for pandemic response

Feb. 22, 2022

Governor Gavin Newsom from California unveiled the state’s SMARTER Plan, the next phase of California’s pandemic response. The Plan builds on lessons learned over the past two years and the state’s ongoing commitment to equity, the SMARTER Plan will guide California’s strategic approach to managing COVID-19 while moving the state’s recovery forward.

Emphasizing continued readiness, awareness and flexibility, the Plan will ensure California can maintain its focus on communities that continue to be disproportionately impacted and stay prepared to swiftly and effectively respond to emerging COVID-19 variants and changing conditions.

It is clear the virus will remain with us for some time, if not forever. It is less clear how often and how much it will continue to impact our health and well-being. However, we know what works, and have built the necessary tools over the last two years that allows us to learn and hone our defenses to this virus as it evolves.

As we enter the next phase with COVID-19, which may include future surges and new variants, California says they will continue to be the nation’s model for preparedness, ready to build on what they have learned over the past two years to meet the COVID-19 challenges that lie ahead. In their approach to this next phase, they will be smarter than ever before, using the lessons of the last two years to approach mitigation and adaptation measures through effective and timely strategies.

Throughout the pandemic we have leaned on science and relied on tools that create protection. This includes vaccines, masks, tests, quarantine, improving ventilation, and new therapeutics. Moving forward, based on the evolving conditions of the virus, they will be prepared to use these different strategies in more precise and targeted ways all along the way, integrating new innovations and information to protect their state.

The Smarter Plan includes

 Introduction Rx- Evolving and improving treatments will become increasingly available and critical as a tool to save lives.

  • Shots- Vaccines are the most powerful weapon against hospitalization and serious illness. Under the Plan, California will maintain capacity to administer at least 200,000 vaccines per day on top of existing pharmacy and provider infrastructure.
  • Masks- Properly worn masks with good filtration help slow the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses. The state will maintain a stockpile of 75 million high quality masks and the capability to distribute them as needed.
  • Awareness- We will continue to stay aware of how COVID-19 is spreading and evolving variants, communicate clearly how people should protect themselves, and coordinate our state and local government response. California will maintain capability to promote vaccination, masking and other mitigation measures in all 58 counties and support engagement with at least 150 community-based organizations.
  • Readiness- COVID-19 isn’t going away and we need to be ready with the tools, resources and supplies that will allow us to quickly respond to protect public health and to keep the health care system well prepared. The state will maintain wastewater surveillance in all regions and enhance respiratory surveillance in the health care system while continuing to sequence at least 10 percent of positive COVID-19 test specimens. The state will also maintain the ability to add 3,000 clinical staff within 2-3 weeks of need and across various health care facility types.
  • Testing- Getting the right type of tests – PCR or antigen – to where they are needed most. Testing will help California minimize the spread of COVID-19. California will maintain commercial and local public health capacity statewide to perform at least 500,000 tests per day – a combination of PCR and antigen.
  • Education- California will continue to work to keep schools open and children safely in classrooms for in-person instruction. The state will expand by 25 percent school-based vaccination sites supported by the state to increase vaccination rates as eligibility expands.
  • Rx- Evolving and improving treatments will become increasingly available and critical as a tool to save lives. The state will maximize orders for the most clinically effective therapeutic available through federal partnerships, ensuring allocations of effective therapeutics are ordered within 48-hours.

The SMARTER Plan maintains the state’s focus on targeted investments and outreach to tackle COVID-19 health disparities in disproportionately impacted communities. The Plan features a new COVID-19 Assessment and Action Unit to monitor data and frontline conditions in real-time. It also includes building upon a robust, regionally based waste-water surveillance and genome sequencing network to have early and rapid insights into the changing nature of the virus and early identification of variants.

CA.Gov release 

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