California amps up testing efforts to move toward reopening; essential surgeries can resume

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Governor Gavin Newsom said he still couldn't provide a specific date for when California will reopen, but announced on Wednesday the state is working to increase its COVID-19 testing and tracing efforts.

The governor said testing and tracing the virus is one of the most important of the six key indicators for reopening; the state is working to increase its testing abilities to at 60,000 tests by the end of May.

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As of Wednesday, 465,327 Californians have been tested.

Newsom said the federal government will send hundreds of thousands of testing swabs over the next few weeks, which healthcare workers say are desperately needed.

The state will also add 86 testing sites in rural areas and in urban communities who need access to testing, to build up the state's capacity for testing, especially for those who are most vulnerable.

"We need to make it easier for people to get a test," said Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly.

State officials will also establish a contact tracing task force. The "tracers" will contact everyone who has been in close contact with people who've tested positive for the coronavirus to test them for the virus and urge them to isolate.

Newsom said state officials have monitored hospital capacities and believe they can reintroduce necessary surgeries, including tumor removals and heart surgeries, to their schedules.

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The governor said reopening the state is not an on-and-off switch, and officials are wary of lifting stay-at-home orders too soon may result in a surge of cases.

If cases were to surge, Newsom said the state would be subject to another shutdown.

Newsom reported 86 people died overnight due to the coronavirus.

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