California decides SAR-CoV-2 is endemic

Feb. 21, 2022

California is moving to a new phase in its COVID-19 pandemic response in which the state will begin treating the virus as endemic, Governor Gavin Newsom announced.

Called the SMARTER Plan, its key elements include:

  • The capacity to administer at least 200,000 vaccines per day on top of existing pharmacy and provider infrastructure
  • A stockpile of 75 million high quality masks and the capability to distribute them as needed
  • Awareness about the spread of COVID-19 and evolving variants
  • 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. The state will also maintain the ability to add 3,000 clinical staff within 2-3 weeks of need and across various health care facility types.
  • Commercial and local public health capacity statewide to perform at least 500,000 tests per day — a combination of PCR and antigen
  • Expansion by 25% school-based vaccination sites supported by the state to increase vaccination rates as eligibility expands
  • Ensure a supply of clinically effective therapeutics available through federal partnerships

In addition, the state plans to launch longitudinal cohort study to examine the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19 on individuals and communities over time. California also is pursuing a public-private partnership with a test manufacturer to drive down the costs of at-home tests while securing a reliable and timely supply chain for California. The state will also continue taking steps to ensure its healthcare facilities can to ramp up with additional staff and resources to respond to potential surges while minimizing strain on the healthcare system.

“California is prepared to lean in on the principles that have made us successful in our COVID-19 response. Under the SMARTER Plan, we will use the significant knowledge we have gained and the tools and resources we have developed over the last two years to adapt and respond to whatever is next,” said California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Mark Ghaly.

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