Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
July 17, 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

California cases continue to rise, alarming public health officials. With a rising number of positive COVID cases and local governments seeing their limited resources dwindling, the Governor has mandated that certain counties reinstate closures of indoor activities (e.g. bars, dining, theaters, museums). State officials continue to urge residents to abide by the physical distancing and mask order to minimize the spread. HERE are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

Governor Newsom announces most schools will be prohibited from offering in-person learning this fall. Governor Newsom announced new guidance that will prevent most schools from opening for in-person classroom learning this fall. To open their schools, a county must be off the state’s monitoring list for 14 consecutive days. There are currently 32 counties on the list, with an additional county expected to be added soon. This list represents the vast majority of California’s populations. For schools that can open, the guidelines require masks to be worn by faculty and staff, as well as students in the third grade and up. Schools must physically distance, install handwashing stations, sanitize and disinfect, and have protocols for quarantine. Students and staff must be tested regularly for COVID-19 and state contact tracers will prioritize schools. As many schools will not be able to open for in-person instruction, there are new standards for rigorous distance learning. The full guidelines can be found here.  Below is a recap of other recent actions and announcements by Governor Newsom:

  • 58 County Closure - Governor Newsom ordered that all 58 counties once again close indoor operations for the following sectors: dine-in restaurants, wineries and tasting rooms, movie theaters, family entertainment centers, zoos and museums, and cardrooms. He had originally required these close in the counties on the county monitoring list but decided to extend it statewide due to the increasing cases of COVID-19.
  • County Monitoring List - Governor Newsom ordered that the counties on the county monitoring list must close down additional business sectors: gyms and fitness centers, places of worship and cultural ceremonies, offices for non-critical infrastructure sectors, personal care services, and shopping malls. 
  • New Testing Task Force - Governor Newsom previewed new members of the Testing Task Force after the original Testing Task Force co-led by Blue Shield of California CEO Paul Markovich exceeded its goal of increasing the amount of testing conducted on a daily basis — California went from 2,000 tests per day to over 100,000 tests per day. Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. Mark Ghaly held a briefing where he announced the new Testing Task Force. The Task Force will be co-chaired  by Dr. Bechara Choucair, Senior Vice President and Chief Health Officer of Kaiser Foundation health Plan and Dr. Gilbert Chavez, founding chief of the California Department of Public Health’s Center for Infectious Diseases. The Task Force will recommend testing priorities, continue to create equitable access to testing and support for state-operated community testing sites, and review options to lower overall testing costs.
  • Revised Testing Guidance - Governor Newsom’s new Testing Task Force announcement also came with revised guidelines for prioritizing testing. This updated guidance is intended to support public health officials, health care providers, and laboratories in determining who should be tested given the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic in California.
  • Project Homekey - Governor Newsom announced that an additional $600 million in funding is now available to expand Project Homekey.  Local governments can tap into these funds to acquire hotel/motel rooms and other facilities to convert into permanent housing. 
California Legislature 

Important Dates:

  • June 19 – July 27 – Assembly Summer Recess
  • July 2 – July 27 – Senate Summer Recess
  • July 27 – Legislature Reconvenes
  • August 31 – Last Day of Session
  • September 30 – Last Day for the Governor to Sign or Veto Bills
  • November 3 – General Election
  • December 7 – 2021-22 Legislative Session Begins

Legislature poised to return from their extended recess on July 27. After an outbreak of COVID-19 positive cases among legislators and staff, the Legislature announced they would return to the Capitol on July 27 and not the regularly scheduled return date of July 13. Given the truncated timeline to conduct policy hearings, fiscal hearings and floor votes, the Assembly and Senate have been reworking the calendar to minimize exposure and convenings in the Capitol. The Assembly has already tentatively landed on a schedule for the remainder of the legislative session — policy committees will only have one regularly scheduled hearing. The Senate has approximately 500 Assembly bills, more than double the amount of Senate bills then there are in the Assembly. We should expect committee chairs in both houses will not set all bills in their possession. Details on the Senate’s schedule are pending. 

Additional budget action expected in the last few weeks of session. Unlike previous years, the tax filing deadline was extended to July 15 due to the pandemic and the state should have a better picture of the revenue status it has at hand. The budget deficit stands at $54 billion but the Department of Finance estimated this could be minimally lower – by $1 billion — after the July tax filing deadline. The $1 billion is a drop in the bucket compared to the overall deficit but if there are additional revenues the state will have access to we could see an allocation to safety net programs. The Legislature has budget trailer bills that are pending action that include topics such as public safety and the greenhouse gas reduction fund (GGRF). Additionally, the Legislature has hinted at an oversight hearing on the Employment Development Department, which is suffering a backlog of unemployment insurance claims from an exorbitant volume of  claims.

COVID-19 Spending

In early March, the Legislature authorized $1 billion in general funds for the Governor to fight COVID-19. To date, the Administration has spent $826.8 million of the monies on pandemic response and $1.4 billion from the Disaster Response-Emergency Operations Account (DREOA), mostly on procuring masks and respirators for industries across the state. The Budget includes $750 million to provide support for counties experiencing revenue losses for realigned programs as a result of COVID-19.  The Governor also declared a budget emergency in June, which allows the state to draw down additional monies from the Rainy Day Fund to round out the budget as well as assist in the state’s COVID-19 response efforts. The budget sets aside $716 million for the Governor to allocate to COVID-19 response in the same manner as the $1 billion the legislature authorized in March.  A full breakdown of the state’s COVID-19 spending can be found here

Regulatory Agencies and Department Actions

Numerous departments provide updates on their efforts to mitigate the impact of COVID. Here are some highlights:

  • DMV Senior Extension - The California Department of Motor Vehicles has announced it is extending driver’s licenses that expire between March 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 for 1 year for seniors 70 and older. 
  • OSHA Urges Compliance - Cal OSHA is urging employers to review COVID-19 health and safety guidance to ensure the safety of customers and employees.
  • Mask Distribution - The Governor’s Office of Emergency Services released updated PPE distribution figures — 83 million masks have been distributed to California counties and government agencies.
California Supreme Court

Supreme Court extends redistricting deadline and provides relief to recent law school graduates. With the results of the 2020 census delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Supreme Court has issued a decision in the case of The Legislature of the State of California v. Padilla that extends the August 15, 2021 deadline for the redistricting commission to redraw congressional and state legislative districts in California to ensure fair redrawing of districts reflective of the census data. Case details can be found here and the opinion issued by the court can be found here. Here are additional actions taken by the judicial branch:

  • California Bar Exam - The California Supreme Court has moved the date of the state bar and announced it will be given online, along with extending the registration for the exam and have created a provisional licensure program for recent law school graduates. 
Federal Government

Congress continues to discuss the next stimulus bill. President Trump weighed in on the federal stimulus discussions signaling that the next package must include his payroll tax cut proposal. No clear proposal has emerged with Senate Majority Mitch McConnell insisting that the next bill will be written by his office (as opposed to the Democratic House passed $3 trillion HEROES Act). Even so, it appears Congress is inching towards a deal. White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows has stepped in to try and form a deal between the White House and Congressional Republicans and Democrats as it is increasingly clear another relief package is necessary. California has made a request of $14 billion from the federal government to avoid trigger cuts set to take effect on October 15. Here is a recap of additional recent federal actions and announcements: 

  • Border Closure Extended - The United States-Canada border and the United States-Mexico border will continue to stay closed through August 21. 
  • Trump Weighs in on LA Schools - President Trump said the Los Angeles Unified School District is making a mistake by not reopening in-person learning in schools in the fall. 
  • Trump Walks Back Deportation - The Trump Administration rescinded a policy this week that would deport foreign students in the US that attend schools that will be conducting instruction online in the fall. 
Local Action

Education takes center stage as local governments are debating and deciding the best course to resume K-12 instruction. Here are some highlights of local actions:

  • LA County School Guidance - Los Angeles County officials have released guidelines for school districts in the county that do decide to reopen to students in the fall.
  • Sacramento County Orders Closures - Sacramento County has ordered closures of businesses and shopping malls to stop the spread of COVID-19 after Governor Newsom announced that counties on the county monitoring list must close additional businesses.
  • San Francisco Ordinance -  San Francisco has passed an ordinance that would protect workers that have or have been exposed to COVID-19. 
  • San Diego Schools To Go Online - San Diego Unified announced that schools will be online in the fall for the new school year.  
  • Long Beach Schools To Go Online - Long Beach Unified School District will hold classes online in the fall. 
  • Fresno Schools To Go Online - Fresno schools will begin the new school year with online distance learning in the fall. 
  • Sacramento To Go Online - Sacramento schools will not open in the fall due to COVID-19,  and will embrace distance learning for the beginning of the new school year. 
  • San Diego Expands Outdoors - San Diego has approved the expansion of outdoor dining in sidewalks and parking lots for restaurants. 
  • Alameda to Reopen - Alameda County will reopen outdoor dining and the Oakland Zoo after the state approved it. 
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