COVID-19 Update from the Weideman Group
Weideman Group - April 3, 2020

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April 3, 2020

The spread of COVID-19 across California and the country is impacting everyone’s personal and professional lives. To ensure you are receiving the most up to date and pertinent information, Weideman Group is closely monitoring actions being taken by the state (Governor, Legislature, regulatory agencies) and the federal government. We will be sharing the most significant COVID-19 information with you on a periodic basis. Here is a summary of important information from this week. 

California Statistics

COVID-19 cases continue to rise. As expected, the upward trend in COVID-19 positive cases continues in California. There are currently tens of thousands of pending test results which are projected to contribute to the rise in positive cases as soon as the results are published. Click HERE to view the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

Governor Newsom continues to take action and announces new policies to help mitigate the impact COVID-19 has had on Californians. Through his executive orders and press briefings, Governor Newsom and his Administration have been announcing a number of actions they have taken to assist the most vulnerable populations, small businesses and K-12 remote learning. Here is a recap of recent actions:

*Project Room Key – Governor Newsom announced that the state has secured 6,867 hotel/motel/etc. rooms to house homeless individuals in addition to the nearly 2,000 trailers available from the state and FEMA. 

*Relief for Small Businesses – Governor Newsom unveiled a series of new resources to aid small businesses and help workers who have lost work due to the pandemic. 

*Small businesses can delay paying up to $50,000 in sales tax to the state for 12 months. 

*California has set aside $50 million for micro-loans.

*Moratorium on Water Shutoffs – Governor Newsom issued an executive order restricting water shutoffs to homes and small businesses for nonpayment while the state responds to the pandemic. 

*Healthcorps.ca.gov – In an effort to increase the health workforce, the state launched the Health Corps initiative to expand and increase the number of health care professionals available to assist with the pandemic. 

*Executive Order – The Governor also signed an executive order that will temporarily expand the health care workforce and allow health care facilities to staff at least an additional 50,000 hospital beds the state needs to treat COVID 19 patients. The text can be found here.

*Schools to Remain Physically Closed - For the safety of communities, Superintended of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced schools will remain physically closed the remainder of the school year and the CA Department of Education (CDE) will shift to assist district with their distance learning efforts. 

*Superintendent releases guidelines – The CDE released guidelines for how a senior’s coursework should be evaluated to meet graduation requirements as well as guidelines on suspending SAT and A- G requirements for higher institution admission.

*Senior Initiative and Hotline – Governor Newsom launched a campaign “Stay Home. Save Lives. Check In.” and a hotline (833-544-2374) to assist those 65+ with resources, including food, medicine and wellness checks. 

*Census – Governor Newsome continues to urge Californians to take the time to fill out the census while they are sheltering in place at home. 

*Private Partnerships - The Governor continues to applaud the private sector for stepping up and providing services to the state and its residents during this time of need. 

*Virgin Orbit – Based out of Long Beach, Virgin Orbit has developed a ventilator it intends to mass produce for the state to assist California in meeting the 10,000 ventilator goal.

*Google – Google is partnering with the state to provide 100,000 access points for high quality internet access free for 3 months and is donating one thousands Chromebooks for distance learning. 

*World Kitchen – Chef Jose Andres’ nonprofit world kitchen is partnering with the state to provide 3 meals a day to the homeless being house in the Project Roomkey facility. The organization is working with local restaurants to prepare and deliver the meals.

 

California Legislature

Legislature will reconvene on May 4, looking at technology solutions to facilitate business. The Speaker of the Assembly and Senate President Pro Tem jointly extended the legislative recess to May 4. This means policy committees that were due to hear bills in April will be pushing out those hearings to May. The Legislature is also looking into technology solutions that will allow them to conduct business and hold hearings via teleconference or videoconference if social distancing is still a necessity when they return to work. The Speaker has asked members to reduce their bill load and has granted Policy Committee Chairs the authority to establish their own protocols for determining policy priorities for the coming year. We are told the Senate is working on a comprehensive, Senate-wide policy they hope to have finalized next week to determine how to prioritize bills for the year. It’s clear that both houses of the Legislature envision a continuation of vital legislative business and that bills will be moving, with special emphasis given to bills addressing COVID-19 ’nd the economic fallout of the pandemic. All legislative deadlines aside from the June 15 budget deadline and August 31 adjournment deadline can be altered to adjust to this crisis. We have also heard noise about the potential for a special legislative session, which can be called by the Governor at any time and can extend well beyond August 31.  

 

California Regulatory Agencies

California agencies continue their work. Largely due to historical practices of being able to conduct business remotely (e.g, through remote workshops, teleconferences, etc.), most of California’s regulatory agencies are continuing to operate and advance normal work streams. We have seen regular activity from climate and energy related regulatory agencies. We have also seen some agency work increased due to COVID-19. For example, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and its licensing boards will be ramping up given the Governor’s executive order authorizing DCA to waive statutory regulations and continuing education requirements in order to streamline processes increasing the number of health workers. A full list of the boards affected as well as frequently asked questions can be found here and a full list of license and continuing education waivers can be found here

 

Federal Government

President Trump extends shelter in place recommendations through April 30th. With little signs the nation will pull through this crisis by Easter, the federal recommendations that Americans practice social distancing have been extended. Nationwide, the lack of testing and personal protective equipment shortages are forcing states to compete against each other with calls for the President to invoke the Defense Production Act and manage supply chains. On Capitol Hill, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is looking to continue working on relief packages’ 

*COVID Oversight Committee – With the government still looking to clear many hurdles in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Speaker Pelosi formed a committee to provide oversight of the government’s response to the crisis ensuring the trillions of dollars of tax payer money are being well spent.

*Pelosi Considers Phase 4 Package  – Already looking ahead to the prolonged economic impact, the Speaker is beginning to discuss what is needed next to get the country through a severe economic hit.

*Stimulus Checks – The IRS issued some clarity on checks that will be sent to Americans as part of the stimulus package.

 

Local Action

Local jurisdictions embrace the Governor’s bottom up approach. Governor Newsom has stressed the importance of cities and counties taking the lead on tackling this crisis and having the state provide the support they require. Here are some of the local efforts that go beyond the State’s response:

*Riverside Requires Masks – Riverside County has issued guidelines directing residents to wear face masks in public.

*Angelinos Urged to Wear Masks – Residents of Los Angeles are being urged to wear facial coverings when carrying out essential tasks in public.

*Bay Area Extends Order  – The San Francisco Bay Area will extend their mandatory shelter in place order through May 1st.