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California to end COVID state of emergency

California’s COVID-19 state of emergency will end on February 28, 2023, nearly three years after it began, officials in Governor Gavin Newsom’s office announced today.

The announcement came as new variants raise fears of another deadly winter spike across the country and test positivity rates stabilize in California after a nearly three-month decline. More than 95,000 Californians have died from COVID-19, according to state data.

The state of emergency has given Newsom sweeping, often controversial, powers to issue mask-wearing mandates and temporary stay-at-home orders in a bid to slow the spread of the virus. It also allowed the governor to secure billions of dollars in untendered emergency response contracts with testing facilities, personal protective equipment suppliers and temp agencies. Some of these contracts were with previously unproven providers who did not provide services.

Today, 27 provisions of the 74 decrees issued under the state of emergency remain in force, officials said. More than 500 provisions have already been finalized . The Newsom administration did not allow the press to name senior officials who attended an embargoed press conference on ending the state of emergency.

“The state of emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we used to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it,” Newsom said in a statement. “With the operational readiness we have developed and the measures we will continue to employ in the future, California is ready to phase out this tool.”

The length of the state of emergency has been controversial among Republican leaders in the state who sought to overthrow the governor’s power during a Senate emergency session in March . The resolution to end the state of emergency was defeated 8-4 , with senators voting along party lines. At the time, representatives of frontline health workers, including the California Hospital Association, said the flexibilities allowed by the executive orders were key to expanding capacity. It allowed health officials to hire thousands of foreign workers who generally need a California license to practice, among other emergency measures.

“The state of emergency was an effective and necessary tool that we used to protect our state, and we wouldn’t have gotten to this point without it.” Gavin Newsom

In February, the administration unveiled the SMARTER plan, its $3.2 billion long-term strategy to fight COVID-19 . The strategy outlined preparedness measures such as stockpiling 75 million masks, increasing testing capacity to half a million tests per day, and investing in health workers and community health organizations. local.

The launch of the SMARTER plan was key to eliminating the need for emergency supplies, officials said.

“The administration has determined that reversing the remaining 27 provisions of the executive order will have largely minimal operational impact,” an unnamed official said.

The administration plans to seek permanent legislative changes to two temporary provisions authorized by the executive order: allowing nurses to order and administer antiviral treatments for COVID-19 such as PAXLOVID, and allowing lab assistants to process tests. COVID-19.