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US Gov. Newsom provided 'very little information' on state's $1 billion coronavirus mask purchase, lawmakers say

07:35  10 april  2020
07:35  10 april  2020 Source:   latimes.com

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Gov . Andrew M. Cuomo of New York provided the state ’ s latest stats on the spread of coronavirus .CreditCredit Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images. Here’s what you need to know: A Trump administration request for 0 billion in relief for small businesses stalled in the Senate.

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit California, Gov . Gavin Newsom has described the state ’ s rapidly growing needs for more gowns, gloves and masks . He’s acknowledged that buying personal protective equipment for health care workers has been challenging, as states and the federal government

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California lawmakers demanded details Thursday about Gov. Gavin Newsom’s agreement to spend almost $1 billion on protective masks needed to combat the state’s coronavirus outbreak, saying there has been too little transparency in spending those taxpayer dollars.

Gavin Newsom et al. standing next to a man in a suit and tie: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA-MARCH 27, 2020-California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in front of the hospital ship USNS Mercy that arrived into the Port of Los Angeles on Friday, March 27, 2020, to provide relief for Southland hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Also attending the press conference were Director Mark Ghilarducci, Cal OES, left, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, second from right, and Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of Health and Human Services, far right, along with others not shown. © Carolyn Cole/pool/Los Angeles Times/TNS LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA-MARCH 27, 2020-California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks in front of the hospital ship USNS Mercy that arrived into the Port of Los Angeles on Friday, March 27, 2020, to provide relief for Southland hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic. Also attending the press conference were Director Mark Ghilarducci, Cal OES, left, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, second from right, and Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of Health and Human Services, far right, along with others not shown.

“We’re getting very little information,” said Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ting of San Francisco, chairman of the Assembly’s budget committee. “We have great trust and faith in the governor, but we also have a job to do to ensure that every dollar he’s spending can stand up to scrutiny.”

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He said the state has signed multiple contracts with an unidentified consortium of nonprofits and a California-based manufacturer to It applies to such materials when they are sold to or purchased by the state . The money is coming from a portion of the $ 1 billion aid package the Legislature approved

Lawmakers meet in the cramped House of Commons, sitting But Mr. Newsom said the authorities were now in negotiations with the home countries of crew With the first reported cases in Cyprus, the coronavirus is now present in every country in the European Union, health officials said on Tuesday.

Newsom announced the agreement to purchase 200 million masks during an interview with MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Tuesday. Some 150 million of the masks, he said, would be N95-type masks that are seen as critical to protecting health care workers and emergency responders. He said that the state would also purchase 50 million traditional surgical masks, and that shipments of both types of masks would begin soon.

“We’re not waiting around any longer,” he said during the interview.

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But there’s been little clarity so far about the details of the agreements made by the governor’s administration, either on the terms or the total amount that will be spent.

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Gov . Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he is working with the Legislature on an economic stimulus package for Last year, lawmakers made California the first state in the country to offer "I see the state of California and its budget as a house of cards and with this coronavirus -induced recession

“Do I think it’s the right move? Yes,” Democratic state Sen. Holly Mitchell of Los Angeles, chairwoman of the Senate’s budget committee, said of the purchase. “But I still have the responsibility to double-check.”

Mitchell and her colleagues on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee sent a strongly worded letter to Newsom’s budget director Wednesday asking for the “full details” of what the governor had agreed to with private vendors.

Lawmakers received a written request for swift approval of the spending — approximately $990 million on the masks, with $495 million to be spent this week — shortly before Newsom made his announcement on MSNBC on Tuesday night. Under emergency legislation approved last month, the governor’s staff already had the approval to spend money with no more than 72 hours’ notice. This purchase, they said, needed to be made even faster.

The Newsom administration’s request also left some confusion about the total amount being spent, citing “approximately $1.4 billion” for personal protective equipment for those treating confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases. On Wednesday, Newsom seemed to say during an online briefing that the purchase was part of the $1.4 billion in spending. But by late Thursday, his advisers said the $1.4 billion represents other spending to combat the virus.

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That first payment for masks, some $495 million, will be made Friday and the initial agreement is for two months of supplies, a spokesman for the California Department of Finance said. At least some of the masks promised by Newsom — how many is unclear — will come from existing supplies that will go through a new sterilization process. Mark Ghilarducci, director of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said Wednesday that the state would be using technology developed by the Battelle Memorial Institute, an Ohio-based private nonprofit company. No cost figures have been provided for that process.

“We’ll be able to repurpose them, again, back in the field,” Ghilarducci said.

But legislative leaders have not seen any of the details of the contracts signed by the administration. The Los Angeles Times asked Wednesday for copies of the agreements, the same request lawmakers made in their letter Thursday. In particular, lawmakers asked for information related to the “efficacy” of the cleaning technology. They also asked for information on the quality of the new masks being purchased and the price per mask the state will pay.

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Here’ s what you need to know There are now 100,000 known coronavirus cases in the United States . U. S . cities face shortages of masks , ventilators and emergency gear. Mr. Biden said he would recommend to governors that they lock down their states for several

California Governor Gavin Newsom said Tuesday he is working on a plan with the state legislature to provide economic relief for California residents who are in the country illegally.“Californians care deeply about undocumented residents in this state ,” Newsom said .About 2 million people in California.

While legislative budget writers approved the quick purchase of the supplies, the experience marked a rare moment of discord between Democratic legislative leaders and the Democratic governor.

“There’s a whole process” for these requests, Mitchell said. “To now do this, an ask of this magnitude in 48 hours, was a bit much.”

Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Lakewood Democrat, announced Thursday that both houses will soon hold public hearings to examine the state’s response to the novel coronavirus.

“We strongly believe the Governor and his team are working diligently on the behalf of Californians, but we promised the people of California we would provide this oversight when we passed emergency COVID-19 funding in March,” Atkins and Rendon said in a written statement.

Newsom has issued almost two dozen executive orders related to the state’s pandemic response since early March, taking swift unilateral action to require most Californians to stay home, cancel student testing after schools closed and push additional dollars into health care programs. As of last week, he had allocated some $362 million of the $1.1 billion in spending authorized by the Legislature last month.

Ting, who serves as co-chair of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, said the concerns raised should not signal a lack of support for the governor’s efforts to slow the rate of growth in COVID-19 infections. He said the message instead is that individual spending decisions need to be examined in the broader context of the state’s finances.

“If they want to keep asking us for requests for money, they’re going to have to step up on their transparency,” he said.

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©2020 Los Angeles Times

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Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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