Coronavirus: Gov. Gavin Newsom announces paid sick leave for food and grocery workers in California

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Gov. Gavin Newsom addressed the state's ongoing fight against novel coronavirus and its impacts in his daily press briefing Thursday.

Newsom announced he signed an executive order to grant two weeks of supplemental paid sick leave to California food workers who have been infected with COVID-19, exposed to the virus, or are otherwise ordered to quarantine and isolate.

"I think about the people that grow our food, pick our food people, pack our food, deliver our food, cook, serve and sell our food. That's the food chain in the state of California. That sector by definition is essential."

Newsom said he hoped the executive order would encourage workers to stay home if they feel sick, and know they'd be compensated for that time.

"I heard a few grocery workers say this: 'We're called essential workers, but increasingly we feel like we are disposable.' I want you to know you're not disposable. You're essential and valued."

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In the past 24 hours, an additional 69 Californians died as a result of COVID-19, the governor said. So far 890 people have died.

While ICU hospitalizations saw a minor increase of 1.4%, total hospitalizations dropped by a slim 0.9%. Newsom called the trend "encouraging," but emphasized "we're not out of the woods yet."

Thursday's briefing was delayed by 30 minutes because Newsom said he was on a call with governors from around the country, President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Trump and Fauci were reviewing the federal plan, to be announced at 3 p.m., to ease social distancing requirements. Newsom said he hadn't yet received "a booklet" on the plan and therefore didn't have a chance to fully review it.

We'll be streaming the White House briefing at 3 p.m. on abc7news.com, Facebook and YouTube.

The governor's daily briefings have become popular viewing in California. Just this week, he has announced a plan to eventually reopen the state, a massive expansion of unemployment benefits, and a $125 million fund to help undocumented Californians who have lost work due to COVID-19.

As the spread of COVID-19 appears to be slowing in California, Newsom is asking residents to maintain social distancing for the time being. He has declined to give a precise date when shelter-in-place restrictions might end, but said he'd be evaluating the state's progress on six key criteria:

  • Expand testing and doing contact tracing for those who test positive

  • Being able to protect California's most vulnerable populations, including seniors, homeless individuals and those with compromised immunity

  • Ensuring medical facilities are equipped to handle potential surges

  • Working with research hospitals and other research partners to pursue therapies for the virus

  • Making sure businesses, schools, and other public spaces can continue physical distancing

  • Being able to return to more strict measures, as needed


RELATED: Newsom unveils plan to reopen California, ease stay-at-home restrictions amid coronavirus pandemic

Newsom said he'd reevaluate the situation in two weeks, and might consider rolling back restrictions.

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