Exclusive: Governor Newsom Talks Testing, Relief And Re-Opening

Gavin Newsom Speaks At the California Democratic Party Convention.
Photo credit Mike DeWald/KCBS Radio

California Governor Gavin Newsom took time away from leading the state's response to the Covid-19 pandemic to speak with KCBS Radio's Stan Bunger and political reporter Doug Sovern about testing, relief, his relationship with the president and more.

Bunger: Let me start by asking you, given the fact we haven't even tested half a million Californians yet, how do we possibly get to 40 million or a big enough part of that 40 million to make a difference?

We have averaged 2,000 a day through March. We're now currently averaging 16,000 tests a day, well on our way of meeting our goal of 25,000 by the end of this month. I announced today that we were able to procure 100,000 swabs for specimen samples from the federal government. The President committed an additional 250,000 next week. That's been one of the biggest impeditors, is the specimen collections that have slowed down our capacity to increase testing. And with that being substantially addressed in the short run at least, I see our ability to get to 60-80,000 tests a day over the course of the next month or two as very realistic.

Sovern: Now Governor in New York, they're talking about an aggressive antibody testing program of 3,000 people. You said you're going to get 1.5 million serological tests donated by Abbott Labs. Can you be specific about, how is that going to be used? How will that be deployed? Who will get that antibody test so that you have a better picture of what the prevalence is and when we can reopen?

The capacity that were sent up to 130 facilities, it goes through a very prescriptive process. We have a testing task force. In addition, by the way, we made an announcement today that's even more important in terms of a pressing need from my perspective. And that's 86 mobile sites to rural California and inner cities, particularly targeting black and brown communities that have been underserved in terms of testing capacity. 

But look, serological tests are important, but they're not a panacea. I think a lot of work has been done in this space in California already. You did 3,300 serological tests and surveys just up here at Stanford University a few weeks ago. USC did a smaller version of that in Southern California. But there's been a lot of peer review about them and their efficacy as it relates to determining antibodies and the like. So it's really an important space, but I don't want to overstate our capacity of understanding in the serological space just yet. So PCR tests - the traditional sw