Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
May 1, 2020

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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.

California Statistics

COVID-19 cases continue to rise but the curve is flattening and stretching. 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. These are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health:

  • 50,442 Confirmed Cases
    • 1,149 cases in the 0-17 age group
    • 24,613 cases in the 18-49 age group
    • 3,044 cases in the 50-64 age group
    • 11,256 cases are 65+
  • 3,428 Confirmed COVID-19 Hospitalizations
    • 1,192 in the ICU
  • 1,278 Suspected COVID-19 Hospitalizations
    • 242 in the ICU
  • 2,073 Deaths
  • Disaggregated Data
    • Hispanic/Latino – 46% of positive cases, 38.9% of deaths
    • White – 27% of positive cases, 36.6% of deaths
    • African American – 6.4% of positive cases, 6% of deaths
    • Asian American – 12% of positive cases, 15.4% of deaths
    • American Indian or Alaskan Native – 0.2% of positive cases. 0.5% of deaths
    • Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander – 1.2% of positive cases, 0.3% of deaths
    • Other – 6.3% of positive cases, 0% of deaths

Newsom Administration

Governor Newsom announces new policies as COVID-19 numbers begin to stabilize in California, offering a new glimmer of hope. Through his executive orders and press briefings, Governor Newsom and his Administration have been announcing a number of actions to assist the most vulnerable populations with childcare and food insecurity needs, and the Governor unveiled a phase-in plan to reopen the state. Here is a recap of recent actions:

  • 4 Stages to Reopening – Governor Newsom provided an update on Indicator 5 — ability of businesses, schools, and childcare facilities to support physical distancing — by unveiling a 4-stage plan in which different sectors will reopen at different times. Reopening is guided by health data and the risk associated with each sector.
  • Early Start to the School Year – Governor Newsom commented that there are discussions taking place about an early start to the school year, potentially in July. An early start date will only take place depending on the ability of schools to abide by best practices and will provide additional time for students to catch up.
  • Room Stipends – Governor Newsom provided an update to the previously announced initiative to provide free or reduced stay to frontline health care workers at hotels/motels. To date, 78,000 rooms have been booked through this program.
  • PPE Update – Governor Newsom gave an update on the efforts to acquire additional PPE. He noted that California has received over 8 million masks thanks to a previously announced deal with Weideman Group client BYD and distributed 5.1 million masks Thursday alone.
  • Marriage Licenses – Governor Newsom signed an executive order allowing couples to obtain a marriage license, at the discretion of their local county clerk, through videoconferencing, as long as both adults are located within the State of California. The text of the order can be found here.
  • Beach Closure – Governor Newsom announced the closure of beaches in Orange County following concerns over public health after a weekend where crowds of thousands took to Orange County beaches.
  • Childcare Portal – Governor Newsom announced the launching of a portal to connect essential workers in need of childcare with available providers in their area. Essential workers can access the portal through covid19.ca.gov where they’ll be prompted to fill out information. This portal is a replica of Carina Cares, a site designed in partnership with SEIU, a Weideman Group client.
    • 20,000 vouchers for childcare have been set aside
    • 28,000 childcare slots are available
  • Farm to Family – Governor Newsom announced the expansion of the Farm to Family initiative, a first in the nation program, that connects farmers with food banks that are experiencing an unprecedented spike in need. Philanthropic organizations have committed to raising $15 million in order to ensure the program continues through the end of the year.
  • CalFresh Online Use – Governor Newsom announced that Californians on the CalFresh program can use their benefits to buy goods online through Amazon and Walmart. There is an expectation that there will be other vendors that will eventually allow the use of online CalFresh benefits.
  • Pandemic-EBT – Governor Newsom announced the roll out of Pandemic Emergency Benefits Transfer Program (P-EBT) that will provide up to an additional $365 per child to families that have children that would otherwise be receiving free or reduced price meals at schools. More information on eligibility and roll out can be found here.
  • Western States Pact Expands – Governor Newsom announced that Colorado and Nevada have joined the Western States Pact, a pact between California, Oregon and Washington to work together on modifying their stay-at-home orders so that the west will open as one region.

Regulatory Agencies and Department Actions

California regulatory agencies and departments continue to work and 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 learning loss, childcare, and economic assistance. Here are some highlights:

  • CDE Ad-Hoc Committee - The California Department of Education has announced the creation of an Ad-Hoc Committee that will focus on the achievement gap, loss of learning, and solutions to these that could be applied moving forward. The Committee is co-chaired by Assemblymember Shirley Weber and the CA Teachers Association President, E. Toby Boyd. 
  • Tony Thurmond Looks at July - Working with the Governor along with state and national leaders, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is examining the possibility of a July start to the School year. 
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance - The California Employment Development Department (EDD) launched the federal PUA program designed to provide financial assistance to those affected directly by COVID-19. This includes assistance to business owners, the self-employed, and independent contractors. 
  • Employment Development Department Update
    • 3.9 million unemployment claims have been filled since March 12th
    • 340,000 people have signed up for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
    • $7.5 billion has been distributed since March 15th
  • EDD Awards $10 Million - The EDD awarded $10 million to 42 Local Workforce Development Areas to support workers impacted by the pandemic.

California Legislature

Important Dates:

  • May 4 – Assembly Reconvenes
  • May 11 – Senate Reconvenes
  • May 14 – May Revise
  • June 15 – Budget Must Be Passed
  • August 31 – Last Day of Session

Assembly will reconvene on May 4. Speaker Anthony Rendon officially announced that the Assembly will be reconvening on May 4 and begin having hearings that same day, but with strict guidelines put in place to protect the health of legislators, staff and the public. Some of these precautions include – holding a limited amount of hearings each day in larger rooms (e.g. Assembly Chamber, Room 4202), health screenings and limited staff/public in person participation will be combined with virtual participation options for witnesses. Unlike the Senate, the Assembly is not providing remote voting for members. This is due to concerns that legal challenges could call into question the validity of legislation passed through remote voting. The Assembly will only allow foreach policy committee to hold one hearing in May and is giving each chair the discretion of which bills to set for a hearing.

Two Assembly Budget Subcommittees met this week to provide further insight into the Administration’s plan for additional response to COVID-19. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee 6 on Budget Process Oversight and Program Evaluation held a hearing Monday to examine the economic forecast of the state and recovery efforts. Without clarity on the economic hit the state budget will take, there were a lot of unanswered questions by the Administration and frustration from the committee members. The Assembly Budget Subcommittee 2 on Education Finance also met this week to discuss the K-12 COVID-19 impact, distance learning, digital divide, childcare for essential workers and steps that need to be taken to ensure the solvency for providers. Members expressed their worry about the Administration’s ability to provide adequate oversight over local education agencies to ensure monies are being spent appropriately.

Senate to reconvene on May 11 but will continue to hold hearings next week. Senate Pro Tem Toni Atkins announced that the Senate will reconvene a week after the Assembly and announced the creation of the Select Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response. The committee is tasked with reviewing the state’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis, assess what has worked, what can be improved, and provide findings and recommendations for future preparedness. The following Senators are part of the committee – Gonzalez (Chair), Bates (Vice-Chair), Boregeas, Caballero, Dodd, Jackson, Jones, McGuire, Pan, Umberg, and Wiener. This committee will be holding their first hearing on May 6 at 1:30.

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. The Governor will release his May Revise on May 14th. Given the delay to personal income tax receipts until July 15, there will be a second budget revision in August that will allow for another round of deliberations to consider issues that they did not discuss in May/June. The legislature will take up the state’s greenhouse gas reduction fund budget in the fall.

Federal Government

The federal stay-at-home orders are set to expire today and discussions about another stimulus package are taking place. Discussions around the next round of a federal package has already brought on disagreement between the two parties. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has stated he will not bring to a vote any measure that does not protect businesses from liability from reopening, a move  Democrats dismiss as an attempt to allow business to get away with not adequately protecting workers. Below are other updates from the federal government:

Local Action

Some local governments go beyond the requirements of the state stay-at-home order while others are beginning the process of reopening. Every city and county has been responding to COVID-19 as they see best for their communities. Here are some local highlights:

  • Sacramento County Extends Order – Sacramento County extends their stay-at-order until May 22nd, and allows for some activities (e.g. dental procedures, realtor related events) to resume with  precautions.
  • Counties Defy Newsom - Arguing that their low population and mitigation tactics shielded them, some counties are opening up Friday in defiance of the state’s stay-at-home orders. 
  • Modoc County Drops Shelter-In-Place Order - Frustrated by economic loss, Modoc County will reopen with safety precautions in place.
  • San Jose Freezes Rent - With a record number of residents unemployed, San Jose is offering relief to renters.  
  • Los Angeles Offers Tests to Everyone – With testing supply chains improving, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says that everyone in Los Angeles that wants a test for COVID-19 is able to receive one. 
  • Ventura County Won’t Require Face Masks - Citing the success of the county’s socialdistancing, county health officials forgo face covering requirements neighboring counties have implemented. 
  • Bay Area Relaxes Orders – Despite extending their shelter-in-place order through May 31st, the Bay Area relaxes requirements to allow some outdoor activities. 
  • San Diego Closes Streets – In an attempt to create more outdoor recreation space for residents, San Diego will close down some streets throughout the city
  • Riverside Extends Orders - Along with the requirement to wear face masks, Riverside County is extending their stay-at-home orders through June 19th. 
  • San Diego Requires Face Coverings - Starting May 1st, San Diego residents will be required to wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

Resources

  • 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