Gov. Gavin Newsom announces new protections for essential workers

Newsom pointed out that the majority of farm workers, construction workers, cooks, laborers, food prep workers, truck drivers and cashiers in California are Latino.
Gov. Gavin Newsom announced additional protections for essential workers in California amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Newsom pointed out that the majority of farm workers, construction workers, cooks, laborers, food prep workers, truck drivers and cashiers in California are Latino. Many Asian and Black Californians are also disproportionately represented in those jobs.

"When people ask, as they often do, where are we seeing the spread - this is where we're seeing spread: the essential workforce, disproportionately represented by the Latinx community," the governor said.

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The state is introducing new and extending existing worker safeguards in the hopes of reducing coronavirus transmission among essential workers. First off, is making sure anyone who is sick or exposed has a place to isolate or self-quarantine.

"That may be easy in certain segments of society," Newsom said of people who have a second home or large properties where they can distance from their families. That's not the case for many working families.

The governor said the state is expanding Project Roomkey, which started as a way to temporarily house homeless people in empty hotels, to make sure agricultural and farm workers also have access to a place to self-isolate.

Newsom's executive orders establishing COVID-19 paid sick leave and workers' compensation for at-risk workers are also being extended, he said.

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The briefing comes one week after the secretary announced new guidelines would be released for health officials to help mitigate the backlog of COVID-19 test.

California is offering more detailed guidelines for employers, which Newsom says the state will enforce, to make sure working conditions are safe amid the pandemic.

"For us to be able to be successful in terms of stopping the spread of COVID-19, which we will do, it depends on our ability to keep our essential workers safe," Newsom said.

Over the past several weeks, the governor has been announcing new restrictions on the state's reopening in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. California saw a record-breaking number of new cases earlier this week.

Newsom has also been giving updates as new counties are added to the state's watch list, which now stands at 36 of California's 58 counties.

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An additional 9,718 COVID-19 cases were reported in California over the past 24 hours. Nearly 138,000 people were tested for the virus just yesterday, the governor added.

On Wednesday, California's confirmed COVID-19 cases topped 409,000, surpassing New York for most in the nation.

Earlier this week, the governor said the state is working to procure millions of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers and business sectors.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a record-breaking number of new coronavirus cases in a Wednesday press conference.

California used about 46 million masks per month, and the governor said a steady supply is needed to meet that rate.

Thousands of new cases have also been reported in Southern California, and more hospitals have become overwhelmed with new COVID-19 patients.

Newsom said the recent restrictions were to buy more time for hospitals to handle the surges.

Los Angeles, Riverside, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties remain on the state's monitoring list, along with dozens of other counties.

The restrictions announced last week ordered all counties on the watch list to start the school year through distance learning. But, the governor said the state is working with each of the counties to try to bring kids back to campuses.

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KGO-TV and KFSN-TV contributed to this report.
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