Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
April 17, 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 past week.
COVID-19 cases continue to rise but the curve is flattening. The upward trend in COVID-19 positive cases continues in California, but due to compliance with stay at home guidance there has been a flattening and stretching of the curve. State officials noted this week that the numbers are beginning to look promising, but reinforced the need to maintain physical distancing. These are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health:
- 27,528 Confirmed Cases
- 3,180 Confirmed COVID-19 Hospitalizations
- 1,712 Suspected COVID-19 Hospitalizations
- 985 Deaths
Ethnicity Breakdowns with COVID-19, based on 53%-54% of data reported:
- Hispanic/Latino – 39% of positive cases, 30% of deaths
- White – 30% of positive cases, 37% of deaths
- African American – 7% of positive cases, 12% of deaths
- Asian American – 13% of positive cases, 16% of deaths
- Native American, Alaskan Native – 0.2% of positive cases. 0.5% of deaths
- Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander – 2% of positive cases, 1% of deaths
- Other – 8% of positive cases, 2% of deaths
Governor Newsom announces new policies to help mitigate the impact COVID-19 has had on Californians, releases a roadmap that will guide the modification of the stay at home order and unveils his economic recovery team. Through his executive orders and press briefings, Governor Newsom and his Administration have been announcing a number of actions that have been taken to assist the most vulnerable populations, front line workers, and those feeling the economic effects of this crisis. Here is a recap of recent actions:
- Governor Unveils Economic Team – Governor Newsom unveiled his Taskforce on Business and Jobs Recovery. It will be co-chaired by Tom Steyer, founder of Weideman Group client NextGen, and the Governor’s Chief of staff Ann O’Leary. Other notable members include KR Sridhar, CEO of Weideman Group client Bloom Energy, Mary Kay Henry, President of Weideman Group client SEIU, all four former living Governors of California, Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Senate Republican Leader Shanon Grove, Speaker Anthony Rendon, and Assembly Republican Leader Marie Waldron. A full list of members is available . The economic team is charged with developing a path forward on recovery in the wake of COVID-19. The team will craft ideas for short, medium and long-term solutions that reflect communities across the state, and emphasize a fair and equitable recovery
- “Omnibus” Executive Order – Governor Newsom signed an executive order addressing a variety of issues, including adjusting admissions requirements for the California State University System, providing flexibility on background checks for infrastructure sectors, and ordering the Department of Public Health to issue guidance concerning large-scale COVID-19 testing.
- Paid Sick Leave for Food Industry Workers – Governor Newsom announced that California will provide an additional 2 weeks of paid sick leave for workers in the food sector. This helps fill the gap for companies with more than 500 employees not covered by the federal sick leave program.
- EDD Expansion – Governor Newsom announced an expansion of staff and hours of operation at the Employment Development Development to assist with the increased demand to process unemployment claims.
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – Governor Newsom announced that PUA will provide federally funded benefits different from Unemployment Insurance for the self-employed, independent contractors, and those who do not qualify for UI.
- Disaster Relief Fund for Undocumeted Californians – Governor Newsom announced a public-private partnership that will fund a $125 million disaster relief fund to provide financial support for undocumented Californians. Philanthropic funders include Blue Shield of California Foundation, California Endowment, James Irvine Foundation, and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
- Juvenile Justice Discharge and Reentry – Governor Newsom issued an executive order addressing the release and reentry of at the Division of Juvenile Justice. The order calls for the safe and expeditious release of eligible youth serving time and hearings will be held via videoconference.
- Roadmap to Reopen – Governor Newsom unveiled the 6 indicators his Administration will use to guide their decision-making process when considering whether and how to modify the statewide shelter-in-place order. Each indicator will have a workgroup dedicated to providing updates that will inform whether progress in each indicator has been made. The 6 indicators are:
○ The ability to monitor and protect our communities through testing, contact tracing, isolating, and supporting those who are positive or exposed.
○ The ability to prevent infection in people who are at risk for more severe COVID-19.
○ The ability of the hospital and health systems to handle surges.
○ The ability to develop therapeutics to meet the demand.
○ The ability for businesses, schools, and child care facilities to support physical distancing.
○ The ability to determine when to reinstitute certain measures, such as the stay-at-home orders, if necessary.
- Protecting Foster Youth and Families – Governor Newsom announced the investment of $42 million for supportive services for foster youth, vulnerable families, and the expansion of family resources.
- Western States Pact – Governor Newsom announced that California, Oregon, and Washington have come to an agreement on a shared vision for reopening the western region’s economy and coordination to control COVID-19 in the future.
- Go-Biz Director Steps Down – Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, Lenny Mendonca, recently stepped down. Chris Dombrowski will serve as Acting Director.
Regulatory Agencies and Department Actions
California regulatory agencies and departments act to address issues brought on by the pandemic. Numerous regulatory agencies and other departments are providing updates on their efforts to address issues such as healthcare worker expansion and distant learning. Here are some of these week’s highlights:
- DCA Waives Supervision for Nurses – Governor Newsom authorized the Department of Consumer Affairs to waive any statutory or regulatory requirements necessary to address the crisis, which led DCA to temporarily waive the requirement that a physician cannot supervise more than four nurse practitioners. This will provide NPs with the ability to render expedited care during this pandemic.
- Superintendent’s Taskforce – Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond announced the creation of a taskforce that will focus on closing the digital divide and ensure children from all walks of life in California have access to an education during the shelter-in-place order.
- Insurance Commissioner Orders Refunds – Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara has ordered that insurance companies refund premiums to drivers and businesses affected by COVID-19
Legislature set to reconvene on May 4, and COVID-19 hearings begin to take place. The Senate Special Subcommittee on COVID-19 Response met for the first time on Thursday, where they provided members and the public with an overview of expenditures taken by the administration related to confronting the COVID-19 response. The committee heard from the Department of Finance, Legislative Analyst’s Office, and the California Budget and Policy Center on topics such as the expenditure of the $1 billion of SB 89 funds, $1.4 billion Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Accounts, how the state intends to use its authority to spend any legally available funds, and how the federal stimulus funds interact with the state’s decisions. The Department of Finance indicated that California will see a revenue loss of $35 billion this year, with over $80 billion in the next three years. The Assembly will be holding a similar hearing on April 20.
As we announced last week, Pro Tem Atkins sent a memo to the Senate asking members of the Senate to reconsider policy priorities and reduce the number of bills they are carrying. While no specific cap on bills was provided, the Pro Tem indicated she would dramatically reduce her own bill load and other Senators have been following suit. As we have previously reported, the Speaker has provided policy Chairs in the Assembly discretion to determine which issues are essential for the coming year and legislators were also asked to be prudent with the policies they advance. We should expect a reduction in the number of bills being carried by members of both houses.
We expect particular legislative focus on COVID-19 response measures to address the economic fallout associated with the pandemic, homelessness, wildfires and other topics the committees deem to be essential. Senate Committees are moving forward with providing the Senate Pro Tem’s office with an outline of priority issues that should be addressed this legislative session. Committees have been asked to identify key policy priorities by April 22.
Budget Timeline. The Department of Finance and Assembly Budget Committee both released memos indicating that the June 15 budget will become a “workload budget” that reflects 2019-2020 current service levels. The Assembly stated that subcommittees will be directed to only agendize items necessary to build this baseline budget or items providing direct oversight of disaster response and recovery spending. Given the delay to personal income tax receipts until July 15, there will be an August revision that will allow for a second round of budget deliberations and a new round of budget committee deliberations to consider issues that they did not have time to discuss in May/June. The legislature will take up the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund budget in the fall.
President Trump and Congress remain focused on an economic recovery and the White House releases guidelines outlining the different phases for reopening. President Trump still hopes the country could reopen by his target date of May 1. However, in a call with the Governors he stated they have the authority to make the decision for their individual states. Here are other federal government highlights:
- Stimulus Package Phase 4 – Discussions over another stimulus package are already taking place on Capitol Hill. Topics being discussed and debated include monthly stimulus checks, pay increases to essential workers, and additional relief for small businesses.
- IRS Launches Tool to Check on Stimulus Checks – The Internal Revenue Service launched a tool to allow American’s who have yet to receive their stimulus to visit the site and obtain a status update of where their stimulus check is.
- President Cuts Funding to World Health Organization - The President cut funding from the US to the World Health Organization this week arguing they did not do enough to contain the spear of the novel coronavirus.
- FCC Announces New Plan for Telehealth – The Chairman of the FCC announced a $200 million COVID-19 telehealth program to provide immediate assistance to healthcare providers dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
- California Coronavirus Response website can be found here
- California Department of Public Health guidance documents can be found here
- California COVID-19 risk screening and testing can be found here
- California Local Public Health Authority information can be found here
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 updates can be found here
- Looking for ways to help your community? Visit this site here