Weideman Group COVID-19 Update
September 11, 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 continues to improve. New cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations from the virus in California continued to decline in the latest data released by state and local health departments, and even the hardest-hit regions appeared to be on the mend. State officials continue to urge residents to abide by the physical distancing and mask order to minimize the spread. THESE are the most recent facts released by the Department of Public Health.

Newsom Administration

Wildfire crisis takes center stage over COVID-19.  Following extreme weather events, over 900 wildfires are burning across California, forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate. At least 19 people have died, over 3,300 structures have been destroyed and 3.154 million acres have burned with the August fire now the largest fire in California history at 747,000 acres. Here is a recap of recent actions and announcements froth the Newsom administration:

  • Emergency Declaration - Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in Siskiyou County due to the fires, which have burned over 120,000 acres. 
  • County Fire Emergencies - Governor Newsom declared a state of emergency in Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, San Bernardino, and San Diego counties due to the fires. 
  • Federal Grants - Governor Newsom announced that California secured Fire Management Assistance grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to support fire response in the following counties: Santa Clara, Stanislaus, Santa Cruz, San Mateo, Napa, Nevada, Lake, Solano, Yolo, Monterey, Fresno, Madera, San Bernardino, Siskiyou, Butte, Plumas and Yuba.
  • COVID Legislation - Governor Newsom announced that he signed AB 1867, which extends paid sick leave protections. This budget trailer bill closes gaps in federal law and a previous executive order by including employers with over 500 workers in paid leave protections. The bill also includes employers of first responders and health care employees that opted not to cover their employees under the federal law. 
  • Back to School PSA - Governor Gavin Newsom  unveiled a new PSA partnership on back-to-school safety with Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street.
  • Small Business Relief - Governor Newsom announced that he signed legislation aimed at helping small businesses recover from the economic impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This package of bills include AB 1577 (Burke) allowing small businesses to exclude PPP loans from their state taxes and SB 1447 (Bradford) making available a hiring tax credit to small businesses. The Governor also signed a budget bill, SB 115, which accelerates funding for a number of projects such as electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
  • Energy Action - Governor Newsom released an outline on what the state would be doing to conserve energy. As part of this alert, there were also numerous recommendations for businesses and individuals on how they can conserve energy so the state could continue to meet the energy demand during heatwaves. 
  • Census - Governor Newsom is encouraging every Californian to fill out the census by September 30, which is the cut off date for the census.

California Legislature 

Important Dates:

  • September 30 – Last Day for the Governor to Sign/Veto Bills 
  • November 3 – General Election
  • December 7 – 2021-22 Legislative Session Begins

The Legislature has adjourned their 2-year session and are scheduled to reconvene on December 7. While the Legislature is in interim recess for the next few months, members are awaiting action on their respective bills that are still pending with the Governor. Newsom has hundreds of bills on his desk that he must act upon by the September 30th deadline – items that are not signed or vetoed by that date automatically become law. The Senate Special Committee on Pandemic Emergency Response is expected to hold additional hearings over the interim as will several other policy committees. Informational and oversight hearings on a multitude of issues, including COVID-19, wildfires, EDD performance and economic recovery are also expected. Calls from legislators for the Governor to convene a special session to deal with COVID-19 and wildfire issues continue, but significant momentum for that concept has yet to materialize and the Governor has not indicated a desire to bring the Legislature back to Sacramento.

COVID-19 Spending

The Department of Finance released a report to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee on state spending on COVID-19. 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). 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 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-19 and the wildfires. Here are some highlights:

  • CalOES Preparation - In order to address the dangerous fire conditions continuing across the state, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) has strategically prepositioned critical fire resources.
  • School Guidance Webinar - Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond held a webinar on safe learning guidance for school leaders and parents. 
  • Cal State Online - California State Universities announced they will stay online for the entire academic year. 
  • Enforcement Fine - CalOSHA issued the largest COVID-19 related safety fine to Overhill Farms. 
  • Mask Update - CalOES announced updated distribution figures for masks across the state. 
  • Federal Debris Assistance - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that Lake, Monterey, Napa, Santa Cruz, Solano, and Sonoma counties have been designated to receive federal assistance for debris removal under FEMA’s Public Assistance Program.
  • Resource Update - CalOES announced updated distribution figures for resources across the state.

Federal Government

Senate Republicans introduced a $500 billion stimulus package. The package would largely fund extending the Paycheck Protection Program and an additional $300 per month unemployment benefits. The package did not include individual stimulus checks or money for state and local governments – something that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her caucus have been pushing to be included in the next stimulus. For that reason, the package does not appear to have enough support to move forward. Below is a recap of additional federal actions: 

  • Census Ruling - A judge has blocked an order from the Trump Administration seeking to exclude undocumented indivuals from being coutned in the 2020 census. 
  • Regulatory Enforcement - The White House and Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs released new guidance that directs regulatory federal agencies to relax regulatory enforcement to allow companies and businesses to economically recover. 
  • Eating Out Risk - The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has released a report that states that eating out is the riskiest activity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 Local Action

Local governments continue to take actions they deem appropriate given their unique circumstances. Here are some highlights:

  • L.A. County Nixes Halloween - Los Angeles County health officials are recommending that no trick-or-treating take place during Halloween this year while we are still in a pandemic. 
  • Placer Resignation - Placer County’s health officer resigned after the County Board of Supervisors ended the COVID-19 state of emergency for the county. 
  • San Francisco Opens Indoor Services - San Francisco will allow indoor hair and nail salons, gyms and hotels to open with limited capacity starting Monday.
  • Butte County Okays Indoors - Butte County officials have given the okay for indoor dining in their county. 
  • Bay Area Testing - Schools in the Bay Area are planning to conduct COVID-19 testing for students and staff. 
  • Sacramento Schools - Sacramento County Public Health officials approved almost 20 waivers this week for several private schools to reopen for in-person instruction.

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