Weideman COVID-19 Update
March 12, 2021
Biden Takes Action on American Rescue Plan
President Biden signed
the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan passed by
Congress. The relief plan includes stimulus checks for Americans,
which are expected to be processed as soon as this weekend, $7
billion to extend the Paycheck Protection Program, $50 billion
for small business relief, $14 billion for vaccine distribution,
$130 billion for school reopenings, $350 billion for state and
local government, expanded eligibility for subsidies to purchase
health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and more.
Marking the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, President Biden addressed the nation and reassured the country that his administration is utilizing every tool to get through this pandemic as quickly as possible. Biden noted that nearly 2 million vaccines are being administered per day and announced that he is directing all states, tribes and territories to make all adults eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine by May 1st. The President also denounced, once again, the hate crimes directed against Asian Americans.
Newsom Delivers Campaign Style State of the State
Governor Newsom ditched the normal mid-day State of the State address in the Capitol and instead delivered his speech from Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. The Governor focused on the impact and progress the state has made in combating the pandemic - acquiring personal protective equipment, building the state’s stockpile of supplies, establishing testing sites, and more. Newsom also discussed the state’s priorities moving forward, including increasing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, safely reopening schools for in-person instruction, equitably increasing access to broadband, addressing housing stability and homelessness, and investing in California’s climate goals, including achieving the sale of only zero emission cars in the state by 2035. The tone of the speech was optimistic with Newsom noting that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter and brighter. This speech had the look and feel of a campaign rally, which means Newsom has an eye on the pending effort to recall him from office. A transcript of the speech can be found here.
Becerra’s Confirmation Moves Forward
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has been one of the most contested of President Biden’s Cabinet picks as the President’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services. After an evenly split vote along party lines in the Senate Finance Committee to advance his nomination, Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins joined Senate Democrats to advance his nomination to be taken up in the full Senate. Collins, along with Democratic centrist West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, were previously skeptical about Becerra but cited his commitment to work on rural health issues as the reason for their support. Becerra is expected to be narrowly confirmed by the Senate. Once confirmed, Governor Newsom will announce his pick to fill the AG vacancy created by Becerra’s departure.
Signs of Normalcy
Across the state, plans are in motion to slowly begin returning to pre-pandemic life. Rates of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to fall allowing counties to once again move into less restrictive tiers of the Blueprint for a Safer Economy. The Governor estimates half the counties in the state will be out of the most restrictive tier this week. The Department of Public Health has signaled that it will include vaccination rates into the Blueprint as part of an upcoming update to the system. Plans for summer schools to address learning loss are already taking form across the state in districts like San Francisco and San Diego. Finally, as COVID data improves, some of the state’s largest theme parks including Disneyland, Universal Studios, and Six Flags are getting ready to reopen as early as April.