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  • Corey Lee Wilson

SMARTER Plan is the Next Phase of California’s COVID-19 Response



As California emerges from the Omicron surge, Governor Gavin Newsom unveiled the state’s SMARTER Plan Feb 17, 2022, the next phase of California’s pandemic response. Building 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.

“As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, the state is better equipped than ever to protect Californians from COVID-19 with smart strategies that save lives and advance our ongoing recovery,” said Governor Newsom, who will outline the Plan today at a state-operated warehouse in Fontana storing personal protective equipment. “Building on proven tools – rooted in science and data – that have been honed over the past two years, we’re keeping our guard up with a focus on continued readiness, awareness and flexibility to adapt to the evolving pandemic. As we have throughout the pandemic, the state will continue applying the lessons we’ve learned about the virus to keep California moving forward.”

The SMARTER Plan’s core pillars and preparedness metrics focus on lifesaving public health measures and strategies the state has successfully used to slow the spread and protect Californians. Recognizing that each variant brings with it unique characteristics relative to the specific conditions in our neighborhoods and communities, the Plan preserves needed flexibility and ensures the state has the resources and capabilities in place to tackle the COVID-19 challenges that lie ahead.

What SMARTER stands for

We’re using the lessons of the last two years to prepare for future COVID-19 surges or variants. SMARTER stands for:

• Shots – Vaccines are the most powerful weapon against hospitalization and serious illness.

• Masks – Properly worn masks with good filtration help slow the spread of COVID-19 or other respiratory viruses.

• Awareness – We will continue to stay aware of how COVID-19 is spreading, evolving variants, communicate clearly how people should protect themselves, and coordinate our state and local government response.

• Readiness – COVID-19 is not going away, and we need to be ready with the tools, resources and supplies we will need to quickly respond and keep public health and the healthcare system well prepared.

• 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.

• Education – California will continue to work to keep schools open and children safely in classrooms for in-person instruction.

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

The SMARTER Plan is not just for COVID-19. We can use these strategies and systems for future emergencies. We’ll improve the SMARTER Plan as we learn what works.

How we’ll move forward

COVID-19 will remain with us for the foreseeable future. The SMARTER Plan focuses on how we manage that reality. We’ve learned a lot over the last two years. We know what we need to:

• Minimize the strain on our healthcare system

• Keep staff and the public safe

• Keep businesses open and schools in person

We will keep California moving by:

• Increasing vaccination rates especially among kids

• Ensuring we can quickly deploy staff, personal protective equipment (PPE), and resources to hospitals and communities

• Quickly matching patients up with effective treatments

• Tracking cases to address spikes as we see them and quickly identify new variants

• Building our own supply chain for tests and keeping stockpiles of masks and PPE

SMARTER builds on California’s successes. It is flexible by design so we can respond quickly as the virus changes. We can move forward with the confidence that we can:

• Respond to whatever COVID-19 has in store

• Keep people healthy and out of hospitals, which will keep California open

How we’ll measure success

We’ve set goals as part of the SMARTER Plan.

  • Shots: Ability to administer at least 200,000 vaccines per day on top of existing pharmacy and provider infrastructure

  • Masks: Maintain a stockpile of 75 million high quality masks and the ability to distribute them as needed

  • Awareness: Maintain ability to promote vaccination, masking, and other mitigation measures in all 58 counties. Support engagement with at least 150 community based organizations

  • Readiness: Maintain wastewater surveillance in all regions and enhance respiratory surveillance in the healthcare system while continuing to sequence at least 10% of positive COVID-19 test specimens. Ability to add 3,000 clinical staff within 2 – 3 weeks of need and across various healthcare facility types

  • Testing: Maintain commercial and local public health capacity statewide to perform at least 500,000 tests per day (PCR and antigen)

  • Education: Expand school-based vaccination sites by 25% as eligibility expands

  • Rx: Ensure local entities can order effective therapeutics within 48 hours

Read the California SMARTER Plan: The Next Phase of California’s COVID-19 Response on the link below. Image courtesy of isstockphoto.com.

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