California shifts to endemic approach to COVID-19

Posted at 2:44 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-17 21:29:12-05

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KGTV) — California has announced the first shift by a state to an endemic approach to COVID-19.

The plan, which was unveiled Thursday, underlines preparedness and prevention as the state moves further into 2022.

The announcement comes nearly two years after Governor Gavin Newsom imposed the first statewide stay-at-home order.

Leaders are calling it the SMARTER plan, which stands for shots, masks, awareness, readiness, testing, education, and Rx therapeutics.

Both Governor Newsom and Doctor Ghaly emphasized that while the shift is toward ending the pandemic, it will be a gradual process with no official "end" date.

Among notable measures in the plan, the state says it plans to have the capacity to administer at least 200,000 shots per day “on top of existing pharmacy and provider infrastructure.”

On top of shots, California plans to maintain a stockpile of 75 million high-quality masks. "Use of masks should be supported by all who want to use them and should be required in high-risk settings or in other public indoor settings during periods of high transmission or when a variant emerges with potentially high virulence," the plan states.

Doctor Ghaly said that while masks are no longer required indoors in most places in California, there is the potential for mask recommendations or requirements to return, depending on future variants. He said if and when there are changes to any recommendations or data, the state will publish straightforward information online that will be accessible and understandable for all Californians.

As vaccine eligibility expands, the state says it will expand school-based vaccination sited by 25 percent. Read the full plan by clicking here.

Newsom held a news conference on the new plan Thursday. Watch below:

The state released a statement looking back at the last two years of the pandemic. Read the statement below:

This January marked two years since we worked with the federal government to welcome the first flight of 221 U.S. citizens and diplomats who were being repatriated from Wuhan, China into California due to the emergence of a Novel Coronavirus that rapidly spread, infecting hundreds in a matter of days. In hindsight, this gave us some early insights into the initial behavior of the virus, provided us with early data on secondary exposure, and gave us the opportunity to understand the non-pharmaceutical interventions (e.g., masking and physical distancing) that could help mitigate the spread of the virus. Two years later, we are continuing to iterate on our response and learn about the evolving behavior of the virus. The initial days taught us to be nimble and humble. This is true now more than ever before. California has been a state that learns fast and adapts. It is in our DNA and will guide us moving forward.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.